Organic Sprays for spring/summer

I think I have my winter spraying routine down, thanks to this Forum!

In late spring, I am seeing a lot of leaves getting eaten by leaf eating bugs and also aphid activity.

I was able to get many good recommendations on this site to handle aphids. Is there a spray that will work for both leaf eating bugs and aphids without harming the leaves? Its already quite hot here in San Jose CA. So dont want to harm the leaves with anything strong.

I dont know exactly what leaf eating bugs I have but looks like they are plenty busy attacking some of my trees. most of them seem to fly away before I can take a pic.

I like Tanglefoot for the issues you mentioned. Look it up if you don’t already use it.

Thanks @Susu - Yes, I use tanglefoot and it prevents anything from crawling up, its the flying ones that I cant control!

diluted neem oil gives the leaves a bad taste and disrupts their life cycle. i don’t remember dilution rate. google it. works good. spray in the evenings. id try little weaker than recommend and see how the leaves react before going to recommend strength.

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I reccomend Spinosad w/ other beneficial bacterias for mold/mildew or A good neem put into 80 degree warm water with 1 tsp/gal of organic soap / surfactant or a essential oil spray of Rosemary, Thyme or other oils (Garlic and Cinnamon can be strong on some plants) definitely sprayed in the evening after the sun is down. You can make a small amount of spray and hit lower branches of every plant to test and see if you have any phytotoxicity for your various plants.

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Neem will work on quite a few bugs (depending upon how hungry they are). Surround will also keep a lot of bugs off your plants, but does require reapplication after rain and makes your plants white. There are several organic insecticides (pyrethrum based ones, and others) that are quite effective, but not that great for bees.

If you could identify who is doing the damage, then you could more easily pick the most effective one for the bug that is causing your problems. Otherwise you are going for broad spectrum solutions which may or may not be as effective, and may end up being more potent than you needed.

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@RichardRoundTree @moose71 @Steve333 - Thank you so much!!!

Is this same as surround?
This is what I get when I search for surround.

Neem oil and Spinosad have worked well for me in the past but the only issue is that it kills bees and the bees here come to visit the roses through out the year :frowning: I am going to try very diluted neem oil from a different brand than the one Ive used before and see if it still affects bees.

Here are some pics of the damage I see -

(The orange spider kind on the floor here…)

Also will neem oil hurt lady bugs? - I am getting a lot of ladybugs in my garden :slight_smile:

unfortunately even organic sprays can kill beneficial bugs. i try to spray in the evenings when the bees aren’t out and you can try to avoid spraying the flowers but anything that tries to feed on the leaves or lands on them may be affected. its still safer than most insecticides.

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@moose71 - Thanks!

Not the same surround as what I have seen. Surround is very fine kaolin clay dust. It is an irritant to insects but does not outright kill them. I can’t magnify the HD pic enough to read the ingredients, but given their description it is not the same at all. But it may work for your bugs.

I don’t off hand recognize any of the leaf damage pics you posted, but then again I don’t deal with very many insects here. The first may be a leaf roller or other caterpillar of some sort, looks like it left behind some webbing. If so, a Bt spray would take care of them. But those would not be the bugs you’ve seen flying away.

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I think it says potassium salts of fatty acids and sulfur. Not surround.
As for neem oil hurting beneficial insects, I thought neem oil only hurt leaf chewing insects.

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Some neem isn’t pure or is mixed with pyrethrins which will kill bees. Try to get a neem that is thick and cold pressed it should be hard under 70 degrees and have some fatty deposits still. Ideally spinosad and neem sprayed in the evenings never on flowers, while they will kill any beneficials they directly hit, once dried they will not harm any beneficials as these need to be ingested to be fatal.


i buy the pure stuff from amazon. i mix with warm water to keep it flowing out of the sprayer better. never spray in direct sun. it will burn.

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Here is a organic spray schedule for apples from Umass.


@Steve333, @moose71 @RichardRoundTree @blueberrythrill @Susu - Thank you so much!

Every time I go to the garden, I am going to go with my phone and try to get all the bugs on camera - it makes sense to know exactly what your pests have. In the mean time, I’ll use the broad spectrum in areas where there is severe damage.

I am amused that UMass recommends lime sulfur. I like the product a lot but it is allowed to be sold here. Can’t even mail order it here. I have to take a trip to one of states that the product can be shipped to.

If you want a general health tonic you can do a compost tea spray (not in a pesticide sprayer) or you can do a beneficial bacteria spray for foliar (like quantum growth) and some kelp and fulvic / light colored humic acid (no surfactant if you dont want to kill bugs) and this seems to invigorate plants and help them fight off bugs and wont kill anything you spray with it.


:+1: I am actually experimenting with some of them this year to see if they improve brix of some of my fruits that are not that sweet :slight_smile:


Wonder if the restriction in your state on Lime Sulfur occurred after the spray guide was produced?

I thought the guide was interesting and most likely based on some of the research trials done on commercial organic apple production at Umass so perhaps the material is available to people who have a pesticide license. No license is required for LS in my state, but I’m more comfortable using a synthetic chemical rather than Lime sulfur.