Pest Control

Insects are the unwelcome visitors to our gardens. Traditionally, these pests are controlled with man-made chemicals that have consequences beyond controlling unwanted pests.

Using synthetic (man-made) chemicals can deplete the health of your soil as well as hurt your plant due to their harmful ingredients. Using organic pest control products will keep your plants insect free and your soil healthy!



A Slime Fighter's Plan

Stop slugs from ravaging your vegetables and flowers with these strategies that are proven to work yet protect innocent bystanders.

Slugs do serve a purpose in your garden’s ecosystem: They break down plant debris into organic matter for the soil. You would appreciate slugs more if they waited until the plants died before starting to break them down, though we all know that is not always the case. Slugs also are a valuable food source for backyard wildlife. That’s probably not sufficient cause for you to tolerate the damage slugs do to your garden, but it does bring up the first strategy for keeping the slimy pests from becoming your public enemy number one. read more »



Take The Pest Test

Find out how much you know about 10 common garden pests and how to control them the organic way.

1. The moth larvae known as cutworms got their name because:

a) They regrow new heads and tails when sliced in half

b) They cut the mouths of predators that try to eat them

c) They cut off newly emerged or transplanted seedlings

d) They have well-defined muscles that make them look “cut” like bodybuilders

Answer: c. Cutworms feed at the base of seedling stems at night, encircle the stems, and cut them off at the soil line. Cardboard tubes (like those from finished rolls of bathroom tissue) placed around seedlings can thwart cutworms in small plantings. To stop them from mowing down whole rows, apply Safer® Brand Garden Dust, which has Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Bt), a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the pests’ digestion.

2. Tiny, soft-bodied insects that come in various colors and leave behind sticky “honeydew” are:

a) Ants

b) Aphids

c) Caterpillars

d) Maggots

Answer: b. Aphids are plant-sucking pests that feed on just about every garden crop. You can knock the wingless nymphs off plants with a strong stream of water. Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap is the best way to control large infestations. Sooty mold forms on the honeydew spots—wash off the fungus with Safer® Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray.

3. The parents of the grubs that destroy lawns are:

a) Japanese beetles

b) Mosquitoes

c) Yellow jackets

d) Spiders

Answer: a. Japanese beetles gather in large clusters and defoliate raspberries, grapes, and roses, then lay their eggs in moist lawns. Their larvae, grubs, hatch in the soil and feed on grass roots. Target the offspring with Safer® Brand Grub Killer, made with azadirachtin, an extract from the neem tree that’s approved for use by organic growers. Lure the grown-ups away from your plants and capture them with Safer® Brand Japanese Beetle traps.

4. The best place in your garden to look for slugs is:

a) Near the bird bath

b) On top of fruit

c) Deep inside leafy plants

d) Under the soil surface

Answer: c. Slugs work themselves into the center of lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens, where they can chew away at your crops without being seen or eaten by birds. You can lure the slimy pests away from your garden with Dr. T’s Nature Products® Slug & Snail Killer, a bait that they prefer to live plants but that lethally damages their digestive systems. It is no threat to pets, wildlife, or beneficial insects.

5. The plants that tarnished plant bugs prefer to feed on are:

a) Fruiting crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers

b) Leafy crops such as lettuce and kale

c) Flowering plants such as zinnias

d) All of the above

Answer: d. Tarnished plant bugs are indiscriminate eaters that prey on distressed garden plants of nearly every type. They suck sap from plants, stunting growth and weakening stems. Azadirachtin, a potent compound from neem seeds, causes these very resilient pests to suffocate. It’s the active ingredient in Safer® Brand BioNEEM®, and it can be used around children and pets.

6. When gardeners complain about scale, they are troubled by:

a) Plants that grow too fast for their space

b) A destructive insect that’s immobile and nearly invisible

c) The weight gained by watermelons and pumpkins

d) None of the above

Answer: b. Scale look like bumps on plant stems, but they are insects that adhere to plants and cover themselves with a protective shield. They suck on sap and weaken plants, often to the point of death. Safer® Brand Yard and Garden Insect Killer contains soap that washes off the protective cover and pyrethrin that attacks the pests’ nervous systems. Prune off limbs that are heavily infested with scale and dispose of them (but not in your compost pile).

7. Caterpillars increase their body mass 1000 times over during the few short weeks of their lives. How much of your garden can they consume during that period?

a) 5,000 times their weight

b) 10,000 times their weight

c) 20,000 times their weight

d) 27,000 times their weight

Answer: d. Caterpillars, from the cabbageworm to the tomato hornworm, fuel their transformation to adulthood by eating through your crops like a gang of hungry teenagers finding a freshly stocked refrigerator. Keep butterflies and moths from laying eggs on your crops by shielding them with floating row covers as soon as you see the first adults flying around your garden. When you see caterpillars, apply Safer® Brand Garden Dust with Bt.

8. The most common cause of whitefly infestations is:

a) Heavy rainfall

b) Chemical insecticide

c) Fresh manure

d) Expired fertilizer

Answer: b. Whiteflies flourish when their predators are eradicated. Common chemical pesticides kill beneficial insects such as lacewings and ladybugs that eat whiteflies. To keep the good bugs working for you, control whiteflies and other pests with Safer® Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer. Its active ingredients—pyrethrin and potassium salts of fatty acids (soap)—neutralize pests and break down in the soil with no residual effect on the environment.

9. When you see garden crops eaten from below, blame:

a) Moles

b) Gophers

c) Voles

d) Skunks

Answer: c, and sometimes b. Moles are insectivores that tunnel into lawns to get grubs—they don’t eat plants. Voles are small, mouse-like animals that use mole tunnels to get to gardens under cover, where they munch on carrots, potatoes, radishes, and other root crops. Gophers tunnel into gardens and eat plants belowground too, but they are common mostly in the western U.S. You can capture voles humanely with Havahart® X-Small 2-Door Traps. Get gophers with Victor® The BlackBox™ Gopher Trap.

10. The most destructive garden pests in the U.S. are:

a) Deer

b) Squirrels

c) Rabbits

d) Neighbors

Answer: a. A few hungry deer can clean out a backyard garden in a single night, especially in spring when food is still scarce in the forest. Havahart® Deer-Off® II Deer, Rabbit, and Squirrel Repellent chases off all three of the four-footed marauders, but it is not proven to keep away two-footed pests.

What's The Problem?

When you see plants wilting, yellowing, or dropping dead, do you know whether the cause is an insect pest, plant disease, or nutritional deficiency, and how to treat it? These questions will challenge your knowledge and guide you to solutions.


Tomato leaves are stippled with yellow or white spots.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Pest. Spider mites suck plant sap, leaving behind many tiny pale spots on the leaves. Look for fine webbing below or between leaves to confirm the presence of the tiny pests.


Safer® Brand EndALL™ Insect Killer eliminates spider mites at all stages, from egg to adult. Shop Now »



A white powder coats both strawberry vines and fruit. The undersides of leaves turn reddish and the edges curl up.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Pest. Spider mites suck plant sap, leaving behind many tiny pale spots on the leaves. Look for fine webbing below or between leaves to confirm the presence of the tiny pests.


Safer® Brand EndALL™ Insect Killer eliminates spider mites at all stages, from egg to adult. Shop Now »



Pumpkin leaves wilt and turn black, and the vine doesn’t bear fruit.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Pest. Both adult and nymph squash bugs suck plant sap, causing wilt and eventually blackening. You’ll find their yellow or brown eggs on the undersides of leaves.


Safer® Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer contains soap—to weaken the pests’ protective outer shell—and pyrethrin, which paralyzes them. Shop Now »



The bottoms of ripening peppers have dark, rotting water spots.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Deficiency. Both peppers and tomatoes suffer blossom end rot when the soil is deficient in calcium, which can occur even when a soil test reports adequate levels of calcium.


High nitrogen levels in the soil or a high pH can interfere with plants’ ability to absorb calcium. Apply only organic fertilizers, which do not contain excessive amounts of nitrogen or raise the soil pH, two common factors in using synthetic fertilizers.



Reddish brown to black streaks or spots appear on slow-growing bean leaves and pods.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Disease. Rust is caused by spores that are carried by wind and other natural forces from trees and shrubs to garden plants. It is most common in damp climates.


Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide contains sulfur, which prevents rust and other fungi from growing on your crops. Shop Now »



Silver streaks show up on onion leaves, which subsequently turn brown and wither.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Pest. Thrips are tiny, yellow to brown insects that thrive in hot, dry weather. They suck plant juices and leave behind silver streaks on many different crops, including lettuce, cabbage, and peas.


Safer® Brand Garden Defense® Insecticide and Repellent suffocates thrips and other soft-bodied pests, but has no residual effect on the environment. Shop Now »



Symptom: Broccoli heads are small and uneven, and the stems are hollow.


Pest, disease, or deficiency?


Deficiency. Potassium is a critical nutrient for flowering, and when there’s not enough in the soil, broccoli heads do not form properly.


Treat broccoli plants with kelp spray to provide a quick dose of potassium. Blend greensand, an organic source of potash, into the soil before planting.


Posters & Checklists

Friend or Foe?

Meet six pest insects and the beneficial bugs they resemble, and find out how to eliminate the troublemakers and invite the good guys back.

Download Poster »

The Transformers

Many charming butterflies and moths spend their youth as plant-munching caterpillars. Get to know them as larvae and adults, and learn what damage they do.

Download Poster »



The Secret's In The Soil

The key to success in gardening is buried beneath your beds.

Most of the action in your garden appears to be aboveground, where you can see the green growth coming up in the sunshine. But below the surface, plants’ roots and billions (really, billions) of microbes are working together to gather the critical water and nutrients needed to make all that green growth—and your harvest—happen.

Download e-book »

Safer® Brand brings you a variety of effective garden care products that are gentler on the environment! Most of them proudly display the OMRI Listed® organic seal and comply for use in organic gardening!