Homemade Insecticide for Armyworms

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves

  • Pot

  • Water

  • Rhubarb leaves

  • Strainer

  • Spray bottles

  • Liquid dish detergent

  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol

Anyone who has seen ants in the garden knows of the military-style precision with which insects move, and this is the same precision that gives armyworms their name. These worms travel in hoards across landscapes, devouring grasses and plants in large swaths. According to the Western Massachusetts Master Gardeners group, female armyworms can lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time. Elimination of this tiny army before they can spread too far is vital to the health of your landscape, and if you don't want to use chemical pesticides, there are a few homemade recipes you can follow.

Tea Leaf Pesticide

Step 1

Wear rubber gloves and mix this pesticide using only tools you will never use for food again. Some of the ingredients in the tea that kill insects can also harm humans.

Step 2

Bring a pot of water to boil on your stove. Add 1 to 2 cups of shredded rhubarb leaves. These leaves contain oxalic acid, which can stop the heart.

Step 3

Boil the leaves for 20 minutes to achieve appropriate steeping. Strain the liquid into a squirt bottle and carefully and safely dispose of the leaves.

Step 4

Add 1 tsp. of liquid dish detergent into the spray bottle and shake to mix. The soap will help the pesticide adhere to the surfaces you spray.

Step 5

Spray flowers, grass, trees or directly onto the worms to kill the insects. Repeat spraying once or twice per week as needed to eliminate armyworms.

All-Purpose Insecticide

Step 1

Fill a spray bottle with 1 qt. of liquid dish washing soap. Pour in 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol and stir or shake to mix thoroughly.

Step 2

Spray affected grass or plants with the pesticide. Spray in the early evening, after direct sunlight has passed from your landscape. Direct sunlight combined with this spray can damage the plants. Allow the spray to sit undisturbed on the plants for 20 minutes.

Step 3

Spray the plants or landscape area with clean water to remove excess spray, so that it the plants are not damaged the next day under the sun. Repeat spraying every three days for at least two weeks, or until the infestation is gone.


Samantha Volz

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.