Appalachia Gardening

Sevin Dust or a Natural Remedy for Garden Bugs?

organic pest control in the garden
Pap’s old sevin dust can

We don’t usually have issues with bugs doing damage to our garden. There’s always  Japanese beetles on the beans but not much else that we have to deal with. Pap swore by Sevin dust, but I’d rather not use it unless I have to.

A quick google will turn up all sorts of homemade insecticides-like:

  • water mixed with dish detergent
  • water mixed with pepper flakes or chopped hot peppers
  • pee-I think I might rather have sevin dust than pee
  • planting marigolds or nasturtiums around the garden-I always plant nasturiums and marigolds maybe that helps keep my bug issues at a minimum
  • oily mixture made from dish detergent or peppers
  • a sprinkle of wheat bran
  • a sprinkle of tobacco dust-not sure where you’d get that unless you grew tobacco or knew someone who did
  • a tea made from tobacco and water-most recipes said this type of insecticide should be used sparingly due to the high nicotine content
  • releasing friendly bug eating bugs in your garden like ladybugs
  • pick the bugs off by hand and drown in a jug of water-this would take the patience of Job if you had a big garden, but I know folks who do it every year

The only homemade insecticide I’ve ever used from the list above is the pepper/oil mixture. Maybe my recipe was off, but it didn’t work for me.

How about you—do you use the old stand by sevin dust or have you found a more natural remedy that works?


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  • Reply
    Debbie Nixon
    October 15, 2019 at 12:13 am

    Dad always put seven-dust in a knee high stocking to shake the dust onto the plants it always seemed to worked fairly well

  • Reply
    Responsible Pest Control Services
    November 15, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Chickens and ducks are great at controlling pests in the garden but they also like to eat the garden. We like to recommend using pure castile soap (from the health food store) and water mixed and sprayed in garden areas for safe and natural pest control in veggie garden spots.

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    May 25, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I agree with Betty Newman about the snuff. Snuff is nothing but the tobacco dust mentioned earlier. Back in the day, the Bruton, Garrett, and Square snuff that our grandmothers used from the glasses that were a mainstay in most of our country homes was too expensive. You could buy it under the name tobacco dust in bags much cheaper than in a glass.

  • Reply
    June Jolley
    May 25, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Please don’t use Sevin dust. It is very toxic to pollinators. Neem is your best bet.

  • Reply
    Ronnie L.
    May 25, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I can’t say enough good things about neem oil. It’s non-toxic to bees, humans, and birds. The first year I had a garden I only got one cucumber out of it before the cucumber beetles and powdery mildew destroyed my plants. Neem oil solved both those problems. I even use it on my flowers. The Japanese beetles were destroying my hibiscus and sweet potato vines and the neem oil stopped that too. It has worked so well on my plants that I’ve joked that maybe I should send my kids to school with a spray or two on them to see if it stops them from getting sick.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I am surprised that not a soul in the North Carolina region that commented has mentioned to use care in using any tobacco products to help quell bugs. It is a fact that careful washing of hands should be taken when working or transplanting tomatoes or peppers if one is a smoker or around where tobacco was grown, used or stored…”Tobacco Mosaic” disease can devastate a garden planting….We got it on our peppers one year…. (we smoked in the sixties)…but it could have come from bringing in some purchased composted soil according to the local farm expert here!
    Guineas ran loose all over the place on my Grannies farm…Mostly she kept her good laying hens up in a large enclosed pen. Occasionally an old rooster was let run loose, I think maybe because she might have hated it and hoped the chicken hawk would get it…one of those roosters that might or might not flog you depending on his mood…ha
    Not then, I want guineas! They devour ticks and bugs and roost and make a ton of poop under a tree, of course, depending on how many you have. If even an “ant” moves out of it’s hole at night and/or a stranger walks up to your home, the guinea leader will start the alarm then the rest chime in and scare the “peediddle” out of you and the intruder! I would really love a “peacock hen and rooster” but they have gotten too expensive…I remember there was one on the farm at Mars Hill for a few years when I was very young…beautiful and an alarm sounder that will echo thru the mountains and valley, plus a bug eater as well!
    We plant and have for years Marigolds all along the edges of our raised gardens…this helps…You know how I love birds. Feeding them everything they love all winter, special treats, homemade suet and now some chick starter with seed for the babies they are raising. They keep many bugs down…Figure this though, I plant Fennel to attract some caterpillars for natural Cardinal food. With the Fennel buffet the caterpillars usually stay there and not on the plants…We have toads, many, many toads. I place overturned cracked pottery pots for their pleasure and they in turn keep me happy by eating many bugs. We have lots of lizards and skinks…a few stripped, beautiful, iridescent skinks frequent the porch sit in the sun and snap up any tiny critters that land on my posies. We have Turtles, but they can be a nuisance when the tomatoes start to ripen, if you slip up and let a branch with a tomato hang low within his reach! The tree frogs this year are deafening…I saw one that looked so full that I don’t know how in the heck he could hang on the side of the tree without toppling off! So we have a lot of natural defense mechanisms in place…One year before we got so many birds…I used upside down aluminum foil under my roses and tomatoes…they say it drives them crazy and confuses the bugs by the reflection and they land on the hot foil…Probably was just a old wives tale but it sounded feasible to me and it seemed to work somewhat…I never kill lady bugs or praying mantises…I have even seen the nests in late spring while fishing and been known to bring them home and clip on my shrubs so I would have the little bug killers the next year! Ha
    Our biggest threat is deer, ground hogs, a stray rabbit or three but we are working with red night blinking lights to look like coyotes, foxes and other predators….I say plant a few for you, a few for the bugs and a few for the wild animals…Foil, stale perfume, vinegar, wind chimes, balloons, tin pans, etc. help some. Remember this, if you were in the situation where God planted you and your existence , your eggs and future children were at stake….wouldn’t you take the chance and steal and dine on the beautiful buffet sat before you! I try to think of this when I go out and see bug holes!
    This is going to be an exceptional feast for them due to all the best conditions…if the drought holds off!
    Thanks Tipper, sorry I took so much space!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 25, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Here in New Mexico, we have squash bugs that suck the vines until they wilt and die. Years ago,
    when I had a vegetable garden, I decided to pay the neighborhood boys a penny apiece for every
    squash bug they picked off and presented to me. Well, that didn’t last long — I was broke before noon!
    Then I read in some natural gardening article that getting rid of squash bugs was easy — just pick off enough to make a cupful. Then add that cup of bugs to a quart of water in a blender and zap it.
    Sprinkle the vines generously with the mixture, and that will be the end of the problem. So I tried it,
    but before the mixture had blended even a few seconds, I was gagging. It looked disgusting. It smelled disgusting. It WAS disgusting. But I sprinkled my squash vines and washed my blender about 7 times and waited. Sure enough, a couple of days later, the vines were once again covered with squash bugs.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I’ve not had a garden the last couple of years, but when I did, I used that Sevin dust when my White Runners just broke thru the ground, mostly because of those pesky Rabbits. If I had potatoes, I’d have lots of them ole stripped Colorado Tater Bugs. Those boogers will flat eat all the leaves off if you don’t do something fast. I never had any trouble with bugs on Squash or Corn but I’ve dround many a bug in a solution of dish liquid and water. I’d pour ’em in the creek and watch the fish have a time. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 25, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Guineas are one of the best insecticides known to man. They eat all manner of creepy, crawly, stingy critters including small snakes, mice and moles. They even eat ticks and the dreaded stink bug. And they don’t scratch up the garden like chickens.
    The down side to guineas are that they have to be free range to be effective so they WILL bother the neighbors. They are loud KER-ACK, KER-ACK, KER-ACK, KER-ACK all day long. They don’t get along well with chickens.
    Guinea meat tastes like chicken only a little stronger. Their eggs are just like chicken eggs, cooked themselves or in recipes. If I didn’t have close neighbors, I would have me some guineas here!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I am in a new location and just starting a new garden. It will be interesting to see what critters come to feast on my bounty. Guess I’ll see then what I need to do 🙂
    Hope to see you, the girls and Paul this Sunday at the festival in Blairsville!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 25, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I’d rather not but we usually have to use Sevin. The very day after my son set out our tomatoes, they had bug bites!
    It also helps keep the other critters from eating everything. That’s become a big problem here. We’ve got the deer fenced out and an electric fence but the squirrels can jump over it and it doesn’t bother the birds at all. It does deter the huge groundhog population–I’ve never seen baby ones before this year.
    I love seeing the old shaker can! Makes me think of Mama’s garden. I think they also had some kind of pump sprayer.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 25, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Miss Cindy – Vinegar, 5% white distilled vinegar, kills grass and weeds. Farm supply places have it stronger than 5%. It kills whatever you spray it on. It don’t kill the roots so they might come back and you have to spray again but it is a small price to pay to have clean water.
    I don’t know how it kills them. Maybe it pickles them to death but it works. I use it.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I use Sevin Dust to keep the animals from eating my garden, not the bugs. When the plants get mature, I back off on it’s use to avoid putting chemicals on the growing vegetables. Mom used ashes from the kitchen and potbelly stove to ward off bugs. If the ashes didn’t work, each kid was given a lard bucket filled with soapy water to hand pick and drown the bugs in.

  • Reply
    Tina L Knupp
    May 25, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I use self-rising flour…sprinkle like sevin dust…

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 25, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I have lots of touble with Japanese beetles, kudzu bugs, leaf-footed sucking bugs, squash bugs, squash borers, corn borers, cabbage worms, fire ants and this year potato beetles have found me. Mostly I just get overwhelmed but I start out finding and removing them by hand. Then when I get desperate enough I use liquid sevin or malathion. I still don’t win though. When the bugs are bad they kill my plants outright or cut the production by an unknown amount. Along about then I think I will just quit having a garden but I never have even for a season.
    By the way, the birds ate all the sarvis before it could even get ripe.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 25, 2017 at 8:26 am

    *Castor bean plants help ward off insects and moles.
    *Ladybugs eat aphids and therefore are a beneficial insect.
    *All sorts of birds can help in keeping insect numbers at bay. I can virtually guarantee gardens in those places where you see gourd houses for martins don’t have significant insect problems. Of course you used to see a lot of the “See Rock City” martin houses, but I reckon they would be a collector’s item today.
    *Grasshoppers can be a problem as the summer wears on, but an eager young boy in need of fishing bait on a regular basis (and here I speak from plenty of personal experience) can make major inroads on ‘hopper populations if he has enough gumption to get up when the dew still has their fly apparatus on lock-down.
    I’m looking forward to hearing the girls in concert in Bryson City come Saturday, and what a wonderfully generous gesture on their part to help raise funds for maintenance of the Lauada Cemetery.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 25, 2017 at 8:16 am

    I don’t garden so I don’t have much information on bug removal. I have been looking for a
    non-poisoness weed and grass killer for the yard. I tried borax mixed with water but that did nothing. I think I’ll try salt water next.
    My drinking water is from a spring in my yard so I don’t like to use poison out there. I would be poisoning myself!
    Tobacco dust must be snuff, like Betty’s grandfather used on cabbage.

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    May 25, 2017 at 7:51 am

    I use seven dust and once in a while I will get eight dust, for cabbage worm I use flour to kill them.

  • Reply
    Betty Newman
    May 25, 2017 at 5:49 am

    My grandfsther always used snuff on his cabbage. I’ve been doing that and it helps. I’ve also used cayenne pepper. This year I’m trying marigolds – but that’s mostly to try to keep the deer out.

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