Neem Oil Insecticide

- A natural nut oil insecticide -

Summary: Neem oil is extracted from the nut of the tropical neem tree. Neem oil insecticide contains the chemical azadirachtin which is an effective, low toxicity alternative to conventional garden insecticides for many leaf-feeding pests.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Neem oil is a natural insecticide

Neem oil is extracted from the nut of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). The tree is native to India but is now being grown in a number of tropical and semi-tropical countries.

The neem tree has many uses in traditional medicine, hygene and as a source of natural insecticide. The active insecticidal component of neem oil is a chemical called azadirachtin. Neem oil insecticides exhibit very low mammalian toxicity and have many uses for control of pests of food crops as well as on landscape and greenhouse ornamental pests. Neem oil insecticides stop insect feeding and interfere with their normal development.

source of neem oil insecticide

neem tree; photo by Leonardo Lucantoni;

Neem oil insecticide

Neem oil insecticide solutions are made by mixing an oil concentrate (usually 3-4.5% azadirachtin) with water. The oil is sometimes combined with insecticidal soap to enhance the activity of both (see Using Insecticidal Soap to Control Garden Pests).

Always check the product label carefully but most neem oil insecticides can be effectively used for aphids, armyworms, many leaf-feeding insects such as root weevil adults, leafminers, thrips and whiteflies. Sprays can be used on many vegetable crops as well as spices and herbs, small fruits and berries, stone fruits and tropical fruits. Insecticide applications can often be made up to the day of harvest.

Benefits of neem oil insecticide

  • low toxicity, safe for the applicator
  • low environmental impact
  • organic and biorational
  • relatively broad usage allowed
  • easy on beneficial insects and mites

Beside all of the benefits of neem oil the only real downside is that it may need to be re-applied every few days (see instructions on product label). Many gardeners, however, consider this characteristic to actually be another benefit because neem oil insecticide won't interfere with beneficial insects or delay harvest.

Sources for neem oil

Neem oil concentrate is available at many specialized lawn and garden stores under the names "Neem Oil" , "BioNeem" and others. Check the label for the active ingredients "neem oil" or "azadirachtin". Neem oil insecticide is also available online here (, our affiliate).

Related Articles

What are Organic and Biorational Insecticides

Using Insecticidal Soap for Soft-bodied Pests

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