The 8 Best Insecticides of 2022

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The Spruce / Sabrina Jiang

The best landscaping in the world is no match for hungry pests! Fortunately, you can choose among many. If your yard seems like it is always at war with invading insects, mites, and snails, fear not, because there are numerous products out there to lead you toward victory. We also spoke to organic product specialist Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO of BOON Technologies, a biopesticide research and development company focused on licensing technology to commercial and consumer markets. She reminds us that the “benefit of using plant based products is ensuring safety for pets, family, and the environment.”

To help navigate the lofty world of insecticides, we rounded up the best available options on the market, both synthetic and organic, to suit just about every area of your landscape. Our top pick in this category is Bionide’s Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew, which contains the well-researched ingredient Spinosad, a bacterium that is safe for humans and pets.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Bonide Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew

4.7
Bonide Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew

Home Depot

What We Like
  • No synthetic chemicals

  • Can be used around children, pets

  • Can be used around edibles

  • Easy application

What We Don't Like
  • Collateral damage to beneficial species

What do buyers say? 86% of 4,000 reviewers on Amazon rate this product four stars or higher

We are big fans of Bionide’s natural pest control line. The manufacturer claims it can kill a wide variety of pests, such as borers, beetles, caterpillars, leaf miners, and many, many more. You can apply DeadBug Brew to about any plant in the landscape because its main ingredient is Spinosad, a bacterium that is only harmful to insects.

The spray format is easy to use and can be used on vegetables and fruit you plan on consuming. I personally use it to control leaf miners and thrip on squash, tomatoes, and okra. It can also be used for bagworms, mealybugs, and every gardener’s favorite, aphids.

If you want to ensure you are protecting beneficial insects like pollinators, apply with caution as it is a broad-spectrum insecticide.

Price at time of publish: $13

Application Type: Spray | Location: Garden, ornamentals, trees | Target Pest: Broad-spectrum | Coverage Area: 1,000 square feet

Best For Garden Beds: BioAdvanced 32 oz. Ready-to-Spray 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control

BioAdvanced 32 oz. Ready-to-Spray 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control

Amazon

What We Like
  • Well-researched product

  • Offers mite and fungi control

  • Rainproof

  • Controls a wide range of pests

What We Don't Like
  • Can harm beneficial insects

This garden spray features imidacloprid, a well-researched chemical that made its debut in agriculture in the early 1940s. Imidacloprid is broad-spectrum, meaning it combats nearly everything with an exoskeleton. Coming in a spray or a concentrate form, both are easy to use and offered at an affordable price point, frequently under $10.

The three-in-one product name refers to a few extra chemicals that fight fungi and even arachnids such as mites, which traditional insecticides do not cover; and common pathogens such as rose black spot, anthracnose, and powdery mildew. Rainproof in minutes, you need fewer applications.

Imidacloprid is not to be used where pets frequent your yard. Also, since this is a broad-spectrum insecticide, it can harm all insects, including butterflies and bees. If you want to preserve pollinators and beneficial bad bug predators, be sure to spray targeted plants with care.

Price at time of publish: $8

Application Type: Spray | Location: Yard | Target Pest: Broad-spectrum, over 30 pests | Coverage Area: 5,000 square feet (about the area of a basketball court).

Best Indoor: Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer

Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Rainproof

  • Can be used indoors and outdoors

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Not to be used around pets

The year-round warm temperatures of your home make it an insect paradise. To ensure that insects do not make your home their next vacation destination, Ortho Home Defense insect killer offers protection on the indoor and outdoor front. Acting first as a perimeter barrier, it can be applied within 12-inch strips around the home.

On the inside, use the handy wand applicator to apply a 4-inch barrier underneath cabinets, along baseboards, and behind appliances. Once in place, control lasts up to twelve months. We noted the wand as a highlight; it was easy to angle and apply the product, and feel like a wizard while helping to rid the home of cockroaches and ants.

Price at time of publish: $20

Application Type: Spray with wand | Location: Indoors and outdoors | Target Pest: Household pests including ants, roaches, flies | Coverage Area: 20,000 square feet | Concentrate or Ready to Use? Ready to use

Best Organic: Natria 706250A Neem Oil Spray for Plants Pest Organic Disease Control

Natria Neem Oil Spray

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • No synthetic chemicals

  • Can be used around children, pets

  • Multiple uses

  • Can use indoors and outdoors

What We Don't Like
  • Requires accuracy and timing

Neem oil has been used for centuries for everything from personal care to rust control. Coming from the neem tree, it does not get more natural than neem oil. It also happens to be incredibly affordable.

This pesticide works best on slow-moving insects but it also moonlights as an excellent fungicide. I use Natira Neem oil to treat outbreaks of rust fungi on my edible figs and blooming plumerias each year. If you want to treat a fungal outbreak, the same rules of application apply, making sure you cover the fungi entirely. It is not a silver bullet, but it does offer multi-purpose protection for both indoor and outdoor plants.

Price at time of publish: $11

Application Type: Spray | Location: Indoors and outdoors | Target Pests: Most insects, Mites, fungi | Coverage Area: 1,000 square feet | Concentrate or Ready to Use? Ready to use

Best for Lawn: Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control

Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Offers greater distance coverage

  • No re-entry period necessary

  • Effective against mosquitoes

What We Don't Like
  • Works best with a backpack sprayer

  • May need several applications

For those who are not gardeners but still want to enjoy their backyards pest-free, this cedar-oil-based treatment and staple of natural pest control for pets can be applied directly to the lawn, with no wait time for re-entry. The 32-ounce concentrate covers up to 20,000 square feet (larger than a hockey rink), making it a breeze to hit the entire backyard at once.

If mosquitoes are keeping you indoors, this product also keeps those at bay. You should apply several times on a schedule to ensure summer-long control. No need to wait to get back outdoors, as this product can be used while pets and people are in the yard.

Price at time of publish: $75

Application Type: Spray | Location: Lawn | Target Pests: Roaches, ants, spiders, mosquitoes, ticks, fleas | Coverage Area: 20,000 square feet | Concentrate or Ready to Use?: Concentrate

Best Granular: Bonide Insect Control Systemic Granules

Bonide Insect Control Systemic Granules

Amazon

What We Like
  • Offers greater distance coverage

  • No spraying necessary

  • Easy to use

  • Effective against most pests

What We Don't Like
  • Not for use on edibles

  • May need several applications

If spraying chemicals is something you are hoping to avoid, granular formulas offer equal control and are simple to use. Once applied, the granules are watered into the soil, where they are slowly absorbed by plants, offering protection against any insect wanting a snack. Systemic granules contain imidacloprid, which can kill over 30 varieties of insects. The formula can be used in flower beds, around trees, and on the lawn, if they are in areas children and pets are unlikely to discover them. 

These granules are not meant to be used on edibles and cannot be applied in vegetable gardens or around fruit trees. The granules last up to eight weeks (about two months), and we recommend that you apply them multiple times throughout the growing season. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Application Type: Granular | Location: Lawn, flower beds, around trees | Target Pest: Lawn, flower beds, Around trees | Coverage Area: 20,000 square feet | Concentrate or Ready to Use? Ready to use

Best for Professionals: FMC Talstar Pro 3/4 Gal-Multi Use Insecticide

FMC Talstar Pro 3/4 Gal-Multi Use Insecticide

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Offers months of control

  • No odor

  • Effective against many pests

What We Don't Like
  • Can only purchase in bulk

Talstar is the insecticide of choice for pest control professionals. It contains Bifenthrin, which is effective against a wide range of home-invading and garden-feeding insects. Easy to mix with water, it has no noticeable odor, dries quickly, and offers months of protection.

Typically applied as a barrier spray around homes, this can also be used directly on plants such as ornamental shrubs and trees. It should not be used on edibles, and pets and children should be kept out of the area until it is dry. 

Since you are buying the professionals' choice, Talstar is currently only available in bulk quantities.

Price at time of publish: $55

Application Type: Spray | Location: Around home, ornamentals, trees | Target Pest: Broad-spectrum | Coverage Area: 20,000 square feet

Best Powder: DiatomaceousEarth 10 lbs Food Grade

DiatomaceousEarth 10 lbs Food Grade

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Protects for several days

  • Can be used around pets, kids

  • Effective indoors, outdoors

  • Offers snail control

What We Don't Like
  • Works the best when dry

  • Dust can blow away

Diatomaceous earth is composed of diatoms (plankton) fossils and has myriad uses, including stain removal, deodorization, and joint supplement. It also happens to make a great multi-pest control. 

While hard for the eye to detect, the diatoms have sharp edges that prevent insects from being able to walk over them, stopping them in their tracks. When applied around the perimeter of a home or the garden, it offers control from ground dwelling insects like beetles and roaches.

Diatomaceous earth is one of the few products out there that is also effective against snails. Since snails are mollusks, insecticides are not designed for their control, and there are few safe options on the market.

We note that if you reside in one of the wetter states, diatomaceous earth turns to sludge when moistened. It is best to apply on days where rain is not in the forecast.

Price at time of publish: $25

Application Type: Powder | Location: Indoors or outdoors | Target Pest: Ground-dwelling insects, arachnids, and snails | Coverage Area: 10 lbs, about 5,000 ft. | Concentrate or Ready to Use? Ready to use

What to Look for in an Insecticide

Type

Insecticides are sold in typically four different formats: sprays, concentrates, powders, and granules.

Sprays have the benefit of being ready to use and require no extra mixing. As a result, their price point is a little bit higher and you receive less at the time of purchase. For small plants or indoor use, this is ideal.

Concentrates give you the most for your dollar, with you having to do the math and make the dilutions. If you have the equipment to spray, such as a pump or backpack sprayer, this can be a cost-effective method.

Powders, such as diatomaceous earth, are applied during dry periods, usually around perimeters or around garden beds. Once wet, they lose some of their effectiveness.  

Granules are simple to apply, usually just shaken directly from the canister, and can be used both indoors and outdoors, depending on instructions. Sometimes these need to be watered in to ensure absorption by the plant roots.

Targeted Insects

Many common pests, such as aphids and white flies, are becoming more resistant to several insecticides that have been on the market for many years. Finding the best insecticide for your targeted pest requires some research. Chemicals such as pyrethrin and imidacloprid are broad-spectrum, meaning they kill a wide variety of insects. If you are dealing with multiple kinds of insect pests, employing one of these is most effective.

Coverage Area

Many insecticides are designed for specific locations throughout the yard and say on their packages whether they are intended for lawn or for flowerbed use. Sprays are best for small areas, where maybe a few plants are infested, whereas granules can easily be spread over larger areas.

Longevity

When dealing with insecticides, especially those carrying toxic chemicals, longevity is important. Many of the original insecticides that were highly residual in the environment are no longer available for sale, meaning that most that the EPA allows for home use shouldn’t persist in the environment for long periods. It is important to read labels carefully, as factors such as rain can influence how long insecticides work and last in your landscape.

FAQ
  • What is the difference between an insecticide and a pesticide?

    A pesticide is a chemical used to kill fungi, insects, plants, bacteria, mollusks, arachnids, or rodents. An insecticide is specially designed to work on the biochemistry unique to insects exclusively. So, an insecticide is a pesticide, but a pesticide is not always an insecticide. Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO of biopesticide research and development company BOON Technologies, notes that the EPA doesn’t sanction the use of terms “all natural” or “organic.” Instead, she suggests you read the ingredients. A “clean” label lists the ingredients listed with the amounts instead of just “inert ingredients.”

  • Where can you use an insecticide?

    Insecticides are required to have specific instructions detailing where they can be used. They also must specify whether they are for indoor or outdoor use. Insecticides are specially designed to target niche areas, such as flower beds or vegetable gardens Those intended for indoor use may contain chemicals that are less harsh.

  • How long does an insecticide application last?

    The lasting quality of applications varies tremendously. Many insecticides that are designed to keep pests outside homes promise up to a year in protection, with others offering six to twelve weeks. Systemic insecticides for flowers and gardens should provide you with at least a few weeks of protection from insect visitors.

Why Trust the Spruce?

This article was written by Amanda Rose Newton, a freelance writer and garden reviewer for The Spruce. As an entomologist, she delighted in personally testing out the products above in order to provide advice to those with different needs, yards, and values when it comes to pest control.

To make this list, Amanda Rose tested each product over the course of three weeks, both around the home and in the garden. She also considered the difficulty in application, dilution, and tested longevity. As an avid home gardener, many of the recommended products are her own personal favorites. She also talked with Stephanie Boone, founder and CEO of BOON Technologies, a biopesticide research and development company focused on licensing technology to commercial and consumer markets.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Spinosad General Fact Sheet. npic.orst.edu.

  2. National Pesticide Information Center. Imidacloprid General Fact Sheet. Orst.edu.

  3. Neem Oil General Fact Sheet. Orst.edu.

  4. Bifenthrin General Fact Sheet. npic.orst.edu.

  5. Diatomaceous Earth General Fact Sheet. Orst.edu.

  6. US EPA O. Insecticides.