Peel an orange, and delight in the aroma wafting from the oil locked within the fresh peels. Orange oil has its own delightful surprise, at least for anyone with a garden full of bug-infested plants. Its major component is d-Limonene, a compound now approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as an organic pesticide. Homemade orange oil pesticide has all the potency of the store-bought varieties, at a fraction of the cost.
How Orange Oil Works
Orange oil does to insects the same thing it does to household grease: It dissolves the waxy, water-repellent covering that makes them impervious to many chemical pesticides. Once this layer of protection is gone, the oil suffocates bugs that don't die from fluid loss.
Orange oil works on contact, so spraying insect-infested plants thoroughly is essential, This is especially true for aphids and spider mites that feed in protected areas such as the undersides of leaves.
Things You'll Need
Protective clothing, including long pants and a long-sleeved shirt
Tablespoon measuring spoon or measuring cup
Clean 1-gallon container with cap or lid
Clean spray bottle large enough to treat the infested plants
Set up the ingredients and equipment in a well-ventilated area.
Put on the protective clothing, respiratory mask, safety goggles and waterproof gloves.
Measure 4 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup, or orange oil and 2 tablespoons, or 1/8 cup, of liquid molasses into the 1-gallon container.
Fill the container with water, seal it and shake it well to mix the ingredients.
Funnel the quantity of pesticide you need into a clean spray bottle.
Wearing the protective clothing, gloves, goggles and mask protects you from potential skin, eye or nose an throat irritation while handling the orange oil. If you spill any oil on your clothes, wash them promptly.
To prevent possible burns and foliage damage, apply the orange oil mixture when daytime conditions are not sunny and cooler.
Liquid molasses acts as a buffering agent to stabilize the pesticide's pH and keep it from degrading.
- The Dirt Doctor Howard Garrett: Orange Oil
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Solutons for Your Life – Natural Products for Managing Landscape and Garden Pests in Florida
- The Dirt Doctor's Dirt: Organic Gardening and Living -- Note from Howard: Updated List of Homemade Organic Recipes
- University of Illinois School of Art and Design: Food Grade d-Limonene Material Data Safety Sheet
- Penn State Extension: Spray Adjuvants