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What is Neem Pesticide?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Neem pesticide comes from the neem tree, which is native to the Middle East. Used by generations of Middle Eastern families as an insect repellent, it is increasing in popularity in other parts of the world. Neem pesticide can be used by humans for insect relief as well as on vegetables and other garden plants.

The main advantages of neem pesticide are that it is particularly well-suited for human and food use due to the fact that is has a very low level of toxicity. Neem is also biodegradable, making it an environmentally friendly choice. The drawback of neem pesticide's low toxicity and high biodegradability is that it does not stay in place long, and needs to be reapplied after each rain. For best results, it is necessary to spray the upper and lower leaves of plants thoroughly.

Many pests may be controlled using neem pesticide, including army worms, potato beetles, aphids, tent caterpillars, and grasshoppers. It is also effective against mealybugs and scales. Some pests are more resistant to neem than others, though, and may require repeated treatments.

Neem pesticide works primarily as an antifeedant. When insects ingest the neem, a compound in the pesticide block the cells that stimulate appetite and reduce the enzymes in the digestive tract, effectively starving the pests. This compound, azadirachtin, also works as a growth regulator and reduces the number of eggs produced by exposed insects.

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Another benefit of neem pesticide is that it appears to have no effect on beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps, lady beetles, and spiders. One important fact to know about neem is that it does not kill adult pests. For best results, pair neem with other environmentally friendly control methods, such as beneficial pests.

Safety is one of the strongest benefits of neem pesticide, both for humans and the environment. Pesticides such as DEET and permethrin are more effective at repelling insects, but they do pose some danger to humans and animals. In areas with high insect populations, or where illnesses, such as malaria, from bites are a concern, these stronger pesticides are recommended.

In areas where the neem tree grows naturally, the people have learned to use every part of the tree. They chew the twigs to clean their teeth, use the juice from the leaves to treat skin ailments, and use the leaves to keep insects out of their homes. The resin of the tree contains a sticky, glue-like material that is used as a protein source. Due to the hardy nature of the neem tree, the leaves are used to feed livestock during droughts, when other food sources vanish.

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