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Contact Insecticides

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


Place two gallons of ordinary kerosene in a warm place, either in a warm room or in the sun, and allow to become as warm as possible without danger from fire. Boil one pound of laundry soap or whale oil soap in a gallon of soft water until completely dissolved. Remove the soap solution from the fire, and while still boiling hot, add the kerosene and agitate vigorously for ten minutes, or until the oil is emulsified, with a spraying pump by forcing the liquid back into the vessel from which it was pumped. When the liquid is perfectly emulsified it will appear creamy in color and will flow evenly down the side of the vessel when allowed to do so. Care should be taken to completely emulsify the oil and this is accomplished much more easily when the mixture is hot.

This strong emulsion may now be readily diluted with water and used, or it may be stored away for future use. When cold it becomes like sour milk in appearance and should be dissolved in three or four times its bulk of hot water before diluting with cold water. If the water is at all hard, "break" it by adding a little sal soda before putting in the soap.

Small amounts of this emulsion may be made by using the ingredients in small quantities, but in the same relative proportion.. It is used at the rate of eight or ten parts of water to one part of emulsion.


White hellebore is the powdered root of a plant. It kills both by contact and as an internal poison. It may be applied either dry or in the form of a liquid. When used dry it should be mixed with three. or four times its weight of flour or of plaster and then dusted on the in-sects. Applied wet, one pound should be mixed with twenty-five gallons of water and this liquid applied as a spray.


This valuable remedy has one drawback, its cost. It is too expensive for use on a large scale. It kills insects through their breathing pores, but is harmless to man and beast. It will kill many of the insects of the garden if dusted on or applied as a spray at the rate of one ounce to two gallons of water.

Use the powder when it is undesirable to use poison, but never buy any unless it comes in tightly sealed packages. It loses its strength on short exposure to the air. An hour will suffice to weaken it. It must be applied from time to time, as it quickly loses its strength.

Tobacco in the form of dust may be obtained of the large manufacturers for a few cents a pound.

It is useful in destroying root-lice, especially woolly-aphis, in young trees, and in keeping insects from garden truck. For root-aphis, in-corporate four to six handfuls of tobacco dust into the soil about the roots and induce a thrifty, healthy growth by using liberal quantities of nitrate of soda or barnyard manure early in the spring.

A strong infusion or tea made of waste will kill plant lice if sprayed when they first appear.

Nicotine is to be had now in concentrated form. It is more often sold about 40 per cent strong. This may be diluted many hundreds of times before applying. As there is a diversity of grades and brands to be had, it will be well to use the strength recommended by the makers.


Finely slaked lime is often useful because of its slight caustic proper-ties. Against such larvae of saw-flies and beetles as are sticky, for in-stance, those of the cherry-slug and asparagus-beetle, it may be used as a substitute for poison, if the latter, for some reason is undesirable.

Stone lime may be slaked with a small amount of hot water, using just enough to turn it to a dry powder. Such slaked lime is as fine as flour and very soft to the touch, having very little grit. Use a metal pail or kettle to slake in, as the heat may set fire to wood. Do not use too much water, and where possible, use freshly burned lime.

Hydrated lime may be used in making Bordeaux mixture, but it is not as reliable as good, fresh, lump lime. It is less adhesive, not as strong (so more should be used) and more expensive. The one advantage is that it is a little easier to use.

Ground lime for making Bordeaux mixture acts exactly like lump lime, if fresh, but this is difficult to determine as it is already in a powder.


Do not spray while plants are in bloom. It is prohibited by law, except when canker-worm is present, and may destroy bees and other beneficial insects.

Do not dissolve copper sulphate in an iron or tin vessel. It will ruin the vessel and spoil the spraying solution.

For all spraying solutions containing copper sulphate, the pump must be brass or porcelain lined.

Wash out pump and entire outfit each time after using.

Use arsenate of lead on stone fruits in preference to other forms of arsenical poisons. It is less liable to burn the foliage.,

Do not spray fruits or plants with poison within a month or more of the time when they are to be picked.

Keep all "stock solutions" covered to prevent evaporation.

Do not spend money for freak "cure-alls," such as powders to be put into a hole bored in the trunk or limbs of trees or liquids to be diluted and poured on the ground beneath the trees. They may do considerable harm.


While the first week in August is a good average time for applying an arsenical spray for the second generation of the codling-moth in Michigan, it is well to remember that seasons vary, and that the time set aims merely at an average. To determine exactly each year just when to get the highest efficiency out of a spray, for a particular locality, requires only a few hours of work, providing one can find some neglected apple trees near at hand.

First of all scrape off all loose bark-flakes from the trunk and limbs of several trees, thus destroying all the natural places for the hiding away of the cocoons. The scraping is most easily done while the bark is soft after a prolonged rain.

Next, make some bands of burlap six or eight inches broad and three or four layers thick; place one around the trunk of each prepared tree and fasten with a headless wire nail driven into the tree so that the band can easily be removed. Do this in June so that the cloth may be-come weathered before the time for spinning. The larvae in searching for a good place to spin cocoons will find the bands, in the absence of other protection, and spin cocoons there.

Occasionally examinations during July will reveal these cocoons which should be carefully removed by cutting out a small bit of the cloth to which each is fastened.

Place all these bits of cloth with the cocoons attached in a cage made of a lantern globe or some other glass cylinder open at top and bottom, and then tie a bit of mosquito netting over the top to confine the insects when they come out of the cocoons. If the lantern globe is set on a little soil in a flower pot and the soil is kept just slightly moist, the chances of getting the moths out are increased.

Now put the cage thus prepared in a shady place where the sun cannot strike it to sweat it, and where the rain cannot penetrate. Outside of protection from rain and sun the conditions should be as near those of the outside as possible. Keep the soil in the pot just moist and look for the moths often during late July for they will hide down under the layers of burlap and may be overlooked. When, you see them in the cage, then you will know that they are laying eggs in the orchard and the time to spray is just before the young hatch and go into the fruit, which is about a week or ten days later, not afterward. Of course, they do not come out all together, but string along over quite a period.

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