If you are looking for a broad-spectrum, powerful, non-toxic and cheap insecticide, you have come to the right place. Vinegar is the one for you! This organic product is an excellent ally for many purposes, not least in gardening. The best part is that it is safe to use and easily accessible, since you probably already have it in your kitchen. You are probably asking yourself if vinegar is indeed a powerful pesticide and then why it’s not used more often?In truth, our grandmothers used it for an infinite number of purposes. Unfortunately, with industrialization synthetic products became the major deterrent in place of of organic ones.
What bugs does vinegar kill?
Here below I have prepared a list, which shows the efficacy of vinegar on numerous insects (and other pesky pests): Vinegar works best against:
- Fruit Flies
- Mealy Bugs
- Snails and Slugs
- Stink Bugs
- Spider mites
Before we get a further look on how to get rid of pests using vinegar, let’s see what vinegar is made of.
What is vinegar and how is it obtained?
Vinegar is a liquid produced through the fermentation of ethanol alcohol. Its acidic flavor will differ according to the ingredients you use to make it, which can be wine, beer or cider, etc. The process of fermentation occurs when bacteria break down the ethanol into acetic acid. Usually, vinegar is sold after it goes through a process of pasteurization. If it did not go through this process it is labeled “raw”.
What’s the difference between apple cider vinegar and white vinegar?
White vinegar, also known by the name of “spirit vinegar” is clear and it is made from the fermentation of grain alcohol. It has many uses in the kitchen as well as in cleaning since it has antimicrobial properties. It is quite cheap.
Apple Cider Vinegar has a darker color and it is made from the fermentation of apple extract. It is widely used in the kitchen and is a help for health conditions. It is more nutritious than white vinegar but also more expensive. It is possible to use both these vinegars as pesticides, and they can be used full-strength or diluted depending on the purpose of use.
Let’s see now how to use vinegar against the most common pests: (with Recipes on how to make your homemade pesticide)
Ants: As a matter of fact, vinegar does not kill ants, it only confuses them, rendering it a great deterrent. Ants cannot stand the pungent odor of vinegar because it interferes with the pheromones they use to communicate. They leave a trail of pheromones for other ants from their colony so they can find food sources. The smell of vinegar covers their pheromone signals, confusing them and preventing them from finding their way home.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST ANTS: If you want to send away ants that are infesting your garden you can use a solution that is equally made of water and vinegar to be sprayed on their path. Be careful not to spray on your plants, as vinegar will kill them. Being an organic product, vinegar will wear off over time, therefore it will be necessary to repeat the treatment from time to time.
Aphids: Aphids reproduce so quickly that by the time you notice them on your plants, you’re likely in the middle of a full-blown infestation.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST APHIDS: Fill a spray bottle with 1/3 white vinegar, 1 tsp of dish soap, and the rest with water. Spray on a cloth and wipe the leaves with this mixture. This will kill the aphids and larvae on contact without harming the plant.
Caterpillars: These insects feed on plant leaves and can be a serious problem in our gardens since they can destroy it in a short time. A light vinegar solution will help to get rid of caterpillars.
HOW TO MAKE A HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST CATERPILLARS: Mix 2 tsp of vinegar with 1 gallon of water and spray directly on the insects.
Fruit Flies: These insects feed of fermentation. They are attracted to anything organic that is rotting. Leftover or rotting pieces of fruit, wine and beer are irresistible to them, and that’s why we find that even leaving these items unattended for a couple of hours can bring tons of flies.
HOW TO MAKE A HOMEMADE VINEGAR FRUIT FLIES BAIT: For this purpose, you need a glass jar and some plastic wrap. Pour some vinegar into the jar and add 1 tsp of dish soap. Cover it with the plastic wrap. Poke a few small holes with a toothpick. The fruit flies will be able to get inside the jar, but once in they have no escape. They are trapped and will die inside.
Whitefly:Whiteflies are soft-bodied sucking insects that love to suck the sugary sap out of your plants. Over time this may weakens or kills the plant
HOW TO MAKE A HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST WHITEFLY: Mix 2 tbsp of white vinegar with 2 tsp of baking soda, 2 tsp of dish soap. Add 1 gallon of water. Spray on a cloth and wipe the affected leaves.
Mealy BugsMealybugs which soft-bodied appear as white cottony masses on the leaves and stems. They love to suck the sap out of our plants and act as vectors for several plant diseases.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE SPRAY: Mix the juice of half lemon, 2 tbsp of vinegar, 1 tsp of dish soap, 1 1/2 cups of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray beneath the leaves, where the eggs are. The spray will also destroy them. Repeat the treatment after a few days.
Slugs and Snails: Slugs and snails are not insects, rather they are soft-bodied mollusks. They can cause serious damage to your garden and can be found most likely in humid climates, particularly during the rainy season.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST SLUGS & SNAILS: Mix an equal amount of vinegar and water into a spray bottle. You can always increase the vinegar concentration if you see that it proves to be ineffective. Spray directly on the slugs and snails: the vinegar will kill and dissolve these pesky pests. Since this solution has a high concentration of vinegar, be careful not to spray nearby grass since vinegar is also a herbicide. Other plants can suffer as well. Salvia, for example, can die if sprayed.
Stink Bugs: They are considered an invasive species. They pose no danger to humans and pets; however, they can cause a lot of damage to plants and farm crops. In addition to that, they release a very bad odor that sometimes can be overpowering.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST STINK BUGS: Mix in a spray bottle half a cup of white vinegar, 1 tsp of dish soap and 1 cup of warm water. Shake the bottle and spray directly on the bugs. This mixture should kill them instantly.
Spider Mites: These are tiny sap-sucking plant pests. In case of a large infestation, it will kill the plant. They particularly love to suck on the leaves of fruit trees, miniature roses, strawberry plants, begonias, and mint.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE VINEGAR SPRAY AGAINST SPIDER MITES: Mix in a spray bottle 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1 tsp of dish soap and 1 cup of warm water. Shake the bottle and spray directly on the critters. This mixture should kill them instantly.
Mosquitos: Did you know that vinegar can be also used to repel mosquitos? Here is how:
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOMEMADE VINEGAR MOSQUITO REPELLENT: Mix in a spray bottle equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar, add 10-12 drops of essential oil (it can be either lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella or mint). Your mosquito repellent is ready! Apple cider vinegar promotes the repellent activity of the essential oil and creates a slightly acidic pH on the surface of your skin. You can apply it also to existing mosquito’s bites.
Cats:If you are plagued by the presence of unwanted cats in your garden, fear no more! Luckily for us, cats have a strong sense of smell and cannot stand the pungent smell of vinegar, not even once it has dried out.
HOW TO USE VINEGAR AS CAT DETERRENT:You can use white vinegar either full strength or diluted and spray on the areas that the cats frequent (like your son’s sandbox, or the path they usually walk around your backyard)Spray every day until they stop coming and re-apply after rainy days.
Rabbits: Although they are cute, rabbits can seriously damage your crops and it’s hard to get rid of them. You can discourage their visits by using vinegar as a deterrent.
HOW TO USE VINEGAR AS RABBITS DETERRENT: Soak corncobs overnight in full-strength vinegar. Then place them strategically around your vegetable garden. Repeat every couple of weeks.
Is it safe to spray Vinegar on plants?
Vinegar can be sprayed safely around the base of acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, gardenias, and rhododendrons. It will not affect them, on the contrary, vinegar increases their soil acidity helping them to flourish. Other plants, on the other end, might die or turn brown.
What are other uses for vinegar in the garden?
Vinegar can be a powerful organic fungicide.
You can use it to clean your gardening tools. When you finish working with them you can soak them into a bucket of water and vinegar. This will act as a fungicide and will help you to prevent plant contamination.
If your roses suffer from black spots, you can cure this fungal disease with the following mix: ½ tbs of baking soda2 tbs of vegetable oil½ tbs of dish or Castile soap1 tbs vinegar. Add the mixture to 1 gallon of water and spray it on the affected area. Repeat once a week.
Vinegar is also used as an organic herbicide. If you have pesky weeds that are impossible to remove by hand and you want to use a product which is environment friendly, vinegar is the way to go!
You can prepare your own herbicide by mixing the following ingredients:
4 cups of warm water
2 tbs of salt
5 tbs of white vinegars while still hot on the area you want to treat.
Did you know that you can improve seed germination by using vinegar? This is especially true for those plant seeds that are more difficult to germinate such as asparagus and okra, morning glories and moonflowers. Vinegar really has so many benefits. It’s difficult to mention them all, so I just concentrated on how it can improve your garden.
Last, but not least, a word of caution: before you start working with vinegar, remember that you are dealing with acid, so make sure to protect your eyes and keep it away from the reach of children!