The Kitchen Ingredient That'll Eliminate Pests In The Garden

There's nothing that can put a damper on the peaceful nature of gardening like a pest invasion. Tiny insects — like aphids and spider mites — can damage your delicate annuals and negatively affect the appearance of your garden in general. Since treating pest infestations with chemical pesticides is a difficult call for a lot of gardeners to make, many end up turning to natural remedies to rid their plants of these unwanted houseguests.

Neem oil and castile soap are some of the most common household solutions used to naturally fight off garden insects, but there's an even simpler kitchen ingredient you can reach for — milk. Cow's milk actually has several uses in the garden, including fertilization and fungi control. As it turns out, the miracle liquid can also control soft-bodied insect infestation on your plants, according to a 2016 study published in Scientia Horticulturae. If you're searching for a simple, convenient way to grow a pest-free garden, milk might be your answer. 

How milk controls pests

Milk, especially of the whole fat variety, is high in fat content and contains several key minerals, like calcium and magnesium. When the thick, creamy fat coats a soft-bodied insect like an aphid, thrip, or spider mite, the bugs are effectively suffocated by the coating, according to seasoned gardeners like Kia Jade via TikTok. As the milk drips down the plant and onto the base soil, protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other beneficial minerals are absorbed, providing a valuable nutrient boost.

A commercial pesticide, in comparison, can contaminate the soil around treated plants and disrupt the surrounding ecosystem for years to come — even if they don't solve your actual pest problem. If natural gardening is your goal, using a natural solution like milk to control pests without harming the overall environment is an excellent solution to the damage your plants may be experiencing from pest infestations.

How to use milk for pest control in your garden

If you're ready to try milk as a natural pesticide in your garden, all you need is whole milk, water, and a spray bottle. You don't have a dedicated empty spray bottle? No problem. Check under your kitchen sink for old bottles of cleaner you can rinse and reuse. There is nothing about this method that needs to be difficult, complicated, or costly.

Once you've gathered your supplies, simply fill your spray bottle with 50% water and 50% milk. Take the time to spray the mixture directly onto the aphids or mites every day until you notice that the bugs are no longer inhabiting the plant(s). Store your spray bottle of milk mixture in the refrigerator and repeat the process any time you notice more than a few insects on a plant at one time. Your plants and soil will thrive without harsh chemicals or high gardening expenses.