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Background

Botanical Insecticide

Neem Oil

What is neem oil? Neem oil is a natural byproduct of the neem tree. The oil is harvested from the trees’ seeds and leaves.

Neem Oil is extracted from the seeds of Azadirachta indica (Indian Neem Tree), which is native to India and other parts of Southeast Asia. The fruit of this prolific tree is harvested and the seeds are sold to facilities where the oil is pressed out and the remnants are sold as "neem cake" or "neem seed meal" for use as organic fertilizer and nematicide.

One of the most versatile pest control tools in agriculture is Neem Oil. As an insecticide Neem kills small soft-bodied insects like Aphids, Mealybugs, Mites, Thrips and Whiteflies on contact. Spraying Neem Oil as a knockdown followed by releases of generalist beneficial insects, like Green Lacewing, is a good way to minimize pest populations that are already present in the growing area. For organic growers, Neem Oil allows spot treatment to occur with minimal impact on the "good bugs" or surrounding environment.

Botanical Insecticide

Neem Oil
( Azadirachtin 300ppm)

Neem Oil
( Azadirachtin 1500ppm)

Among the botanical insecticides currently marketed, neem oil is one of the least toxic to humans and shows very low toxicity to beneficial organisms, so it is, therefore, very promising for the control of many pests.

The oil is considered a contact insecticide, presenting systemic and translaminar activity. It has a broad spectrum of action, inhibiting feeding, affecting hormone function in juvenile stages, reducing ecdysone, deregulating growth, altering development and reproduction, suppressing fertility, sterilizing, repelling oviposition, and disrupting molting processes . Little is known about the mode of action of azadirachtin as a feeding inhibitor, although it is possible that it stimulates cells involved in feeding inhibition, causing weakness and pest death.

Neem has acquired commercial recognition due to its various beneficial properties, which have been extensively investigated over time. Compared to conventional chemicals, which are generally persistent in the environment and highly toxic, botanical pesticides are biodegradable and leave no harmful residues. Most botanical pesticides are non-phytotoxic and are also more selective toward the target pest. In terms of commercial applications, biopesticides can provide substantial economic advantages, since the infrastructure required is inexpensive, compared to conventional pesticides.

How Does Neem Oil Work?

One of the main components of Neem Oil is the chemical Azadirachtin (from the latin name for the tree itself), but it also contains other active compounds. As an insecticide, Neem Oil works in two main ways:
1. It serves as an anti-feedant when insects come in contact with or ingest it. Using a surfactant (spreader/sticker) when applying Neem Oil will increase spray coverage. 2. Neem functions as a hormone disruptor and growth regulator to affected insects. This property disrupts natural development of the insect by preventing normal hormone releases that trigger growth and maturation.

Neem Oil has many other functions - it serves as a fungicide, a bactericide, and it kills Plant Parasitic Nematodes but is compatible with Beneficial Nematodes.