Soap sounds harmless enough. We wash our bodies with it, clean our vehicles with it,
wash our dishes with it, and blow bubbles with it. But if our children drink it, it will
make them sick. Toddlers have innocent, strange ideas of what might be tasty! Our
toddlers aren't the only ones in our society that can become sick from soaps.
Soaps of different sorts are used as insecticides. A commercially sold soap called Neem
oil soap is an oily solution which can work as both a repellent and as a fungicide. It can
interfere with the good health of delicate plants, weak plants, new transplants, and
drought stressed plants. The oil draws the sun to the leaf surface and can harm
blossoms. It doesn't work well with plants like the bleeding heart, gardenia, and
lantana. So, be sure to test it on a small area and give it a full day to see if any wilting
occurs before you apply it to larger areas.
Some people control wasps by spraying them with a dishwashing liquid solution. But
dishwashing soap solutions can harm some of your plants. Any detergents that contain
ingredients to dissolve grease can hurt the outer protective layers of plants that need
these protective layers for survival. Insecticidal soaps are not your everyday soaps
found in the kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom. You wouldn't want to wash your baby
with the same shampoo you use on your dog to control fleas.
There are many different types of soaps that we use in our homes for daily use that can
be used to control insects, though. Controlling and repelling are not necessarily the
same as destroying. Soaps also work to kill insects by penetrating the outer covering to
cause cell leakage and dehydration.
If you need to protect your personal plants with your own home-made soap solutions,
just make sure you know how to mix them properly and which plants won't tolerate
them well. Also, learn which soaps to use. Palmolive, Joy, Dawn, Ivory, Dove, Tide, and
Murphy's Oil Soap are some that are often used for insect control.
Soaps lose their effectiveness once they're dry. Home-made recipes don't have
instructions. You should research before making them and be leery of buying any from
someone else. Automatic dishwashing detergents are not recommended. If someone
has used the wrong soap, it could harm your plants. You also don't want to apply during
the heat of the day or in sunlight since the use of soaps could burn your plants. It is
possible to condition hard water to be able to mix it with insecticidal soaps. You may
have to add a de-foaming agent as well.
Soaps are safe for ladybugs and predaceous wasps. These are beneficial insects that
help your garden and plants thrive. Not all types of the same insect are harmful to us.
Predaceous wasps don't sting or bite. It's important to know which insects to keep and
which to remove or destroy.