Neem oil is a pesticide that occurs naturally found in the seeds of the neem tree. Its color ranges from yellow to brown, has a bitter taste, and a garlic/sulfur smell. Neem oil is a mixture of components. Neem oil is a natural byproduct of the neem tree. The oil is harvested from the seeds and leaves of the neem tree. It has been used as a natural pesticide for hundreds of years.
Components of neem oil can be found in many products today, these include toothpaste, cosmetics, soaps, and pet shampoos. Azadirachtin is the most active component of neem oil for repelling and killing pests. After azadirachtin has been extracted, the leftover portion is called clarified hydrophobic neem oil.
Indians have been using the neem leaf because of its medicinal properties to strengthen their immune system for thousands of years. It helps:
- Strengthens the immune system
- Detoxifies blood
- Improves liver function
- Maintains a healthy circulatory, digestive and respiratory system
With all of its benefits, neem oil is best known for its use as a natural, safe, and effective insecticide. Neem oil is a powerful organic solution to the most difficult-to-manage insect infestations.
Neem Oil vs Synthetic Pesticides
Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers were a part of the “green revolution” of the 20th century. Because of their efficiency in killing pests, they gained popularity and became a staple product in all plant operations, from large agricultural fields to small home gardens.
However, only recently have we started to learn about the disadvantages and dangers of using synthetic pesticides. Unfortunately, because of their chemical structure, it turned out they could be an agent behind many damaging and dangerous processes happening in natural ecosystems, as well as in human bodies.
Synthetic pesticides that work on contact often build up in the surrounding environment, leaving toxic residue behind that can harm and even kill pets and other animals in the area.
Main reasons people have started to look into organic gardening and using natural fertilizers and pesticides.
One of the plants that show great diversity in combating plant pests is the neem tree. This wonder plant goes by the scientific name Azadirachta indica and it is native to India. Insecticidal properties of neem oil make it a natural must-have in every garden. Neem seeds contain the highest amount of oil which makes up for 50% of the weight of the seed. Neem oil is used in gardening and agriculture as a pesticide and a fertilizer.
How To Extract Neem Oil
To extract neem oil, the seeds are crushed. Then water or a solvent is added to complete the process. Neem oil can contain different active chemicals depending on how it is processed. Some products are made from cold pressing or by further processing of the neem oil.
Neem Oil and Pest Control
Neem oil is biodegradable and non-toxic. It is safe for birds, pets, fish, livestock, or other area wildlife when used. Neem oil kills insects at all stages of development; adult, larvae, and egg. The active chemical in neem oil, azadirachtin, gets rid of insects in the following ways:
- As an antifeedant
- As a hormone disruptor
- By smothering
- Azadirachtin will force the insect or pest to stop eating the leaves.
When insects come in contact with neem oil, it prevents the bug from transforming into its next stage of development by disrupting its regulatory hormones.
Neem oil is an effective pesticide that gets rid of over 200 species of insects some of which are;
How Neem Oil Work
Neem oil works by interrupting the reproductive cycle of insects. Once ingested by the insects, it affects the hormonal system of the insects, causing them to forget to eat and stop molting, mating, and laying eggs. This eventually sees the destruction of the insect population in the infested area as the older insects die off without producing offsprings.
Neem oil is also a powerful aromatic compound that gives off an offensive odor that insects do not like, thereby protecting plants by making them unappealing to the insects.