I guess it stands to reason that I get lots of phone calls, emails and Facebook posts wanting to know of natural pest control alternatives or “organic” insect controls. And to me it’s interesting to note that in the 30 plus years I’ve been reading, researching and disseminating this kind of horticultural information, there really has never been a good all-purpose, panacea-type of organic/natural insect control. There have been plenty of decent ideas with hit-and-miss attributes from Neem Oil to Spinosad to Soapy Water to Pepper-based and Tobacco-based mixtures. And that list can go on and on. But while most are very much hit-and-miss, there’s really not an all-purpose “cover ‘em all” natural alternative, especially when it comes to insects like Spider Mites.
I tell you all that, in order to ask you this; Has anyone ever tried the Salt Spray method? Thanks to the internet and especially Facebook these days, I am seeing this concoction for Salt Spray with a Himalayan Crystal Salt – it’s the ‘spensive pink stuff! And the recipe is seemingly quite simple: 2 Tablespoons of Himalayan Salt to 1 Gallons of Warm Water, and spray. I am a skeptic by nature, and the idea of coating my plants with a sodium solution of any kind in the middle of our heat doesn’t strike me a sound idea.
And I can’t hold on to the pun any longer, so I will tell you to take this advice with a big old grain of salt. I’m just wondering whether it’s just a marketing ploy by many of these “healthier lifestyle webpages and Facebook pages” as a means to sell more of the expensive salt. And understand that my skepticism is rooted way back to when I sat down behind the GardenLine microphone, in January of 1996 when there was a company that was marketing all kinds of Cedar Oils and Cedar Granules as the panacea for all things natural insect control. Yes, Cedar is a great repellant or deterrent to many insects, but I assure you it wasn’t the beat-all-end-all answer they claimed it to be. I mean they dedicated a whole radio show to it at one point, and became somewhat comical to the point that it didn’t matter the insect problem asked about, they would suggest some kind of Cedar product. To call yourself a natural insecticide, you would really need to be able to kill insect infestations by my definition – a repellant doesn’t kill anything!
Meanwhile, I’m very much open-minded to trying it and seeing if it works. However, I don’t have any cypress, azaleas, arborvitaes or lantana infested or affected by things like spider mites. I do have some of those plants, but I don’t have spider mites on them. So, who feels like giving it a try for research purposes and reporting back to us? If we can get some anecdotal stories about its success, I’m all ears. Frankly we need something natural to fight spider mites and other sucking insects like lace bugs because the systemic insecticidal controls that work effectively today are also causing problems with our honeybee populations and it’s only a matter of time before these products likely get removed from our shelves as we’ve seen with everything from Lindane, Dursban, Diazinon and Chlordane.