It’s only a matter of time before pests invade your precious houseplants in California. Sevin dust is a powerful pesticide that is used to kill insects and protect houseplants.
But you should be careful when spraying Sevin dust on houseplants. It can be toxic to humans and pets when ingested. Note that it does not cause cancer or life-threatening disease. This article takes a deep dive into Sevin dust, how to use it, and its alternatives.
Can Sevin Dust Harm Plants?
Sevin dust is a popular pesticide for houseplants in California. This is because it cannot directly penetrate plant fibers.
Sevin dust can be used in vegetable gardens as well. Just make sure to wash any vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating them.
You can use a plant wash or scrub to remove Sevin dust from the vegetables. The vegetables are safe to consume once the dust is properly removed.
What is Sevin Dust Made Of?
The active ingredient in Sevin dust is zeta-cypermethrin and carbaryl. Both substances are not toxic to humans in low doses.
The manufacturers of Sevin Dust use low doses of both active substances. This ensures that humans and pets are not harmed by Sevin dust.
However, the keyword to note here is ‘low doses’. Sufficiently high doses of zeta-cypermethrin can be toxic to humans, pets, and even plants.
You should always wash fruits and vegetables that are intended for consumption.
A good rule of thumb is to limit Sevin dust to once every seven days. Moreover, shrubs and perennials should only require five to six yearly applications.
Trees can use four to five applications of Sevin dust per year. Sevin dust is available in various forms. It can be found as pellets, granules, powder, and even liquid concentrate.
Most people prefer to use them in the form of powder. This is because it is easy to spread powder throughout an indoor garden.
How Does Sevin Dust Work?
Sevin dust, like most pesticides, contains carbaryl. This substance is effective at overstimulating an insect’s delicate nervous system.
Doing so makes it difficult for the insect to breathe, and it dies of suffocation. Sevin dust is highly effective against the following types of insects:
- Tomato worm
- Potato beetles
- Stink bugs
- Cabbage worms
- Japanese beetles
- Flea beetles
- Ground beetles
- Mole crickets
The manufacturer of Sevin Dust, Garden Tech, claims that each application kills 150 insects. This means you can clear away massive colonies of insects within minutes. You can start using the product right away. The product starts killing pests immediately after making contact.
There is no need to measure, water, or mix Sevin Dust with other products. It comes ready right out of the box.
Unfortunate Victims of Sevin Dust
Sevin dust starts killing insects (and harming pets) once it makes contact. It does not distinguish between turrets.
In fact, some of your victims may not even be insects. Sevin dust can harm other species in an ecosystem long after the first application.
For example, rain or water can wash the toxic dust away. It becomes a part of the water cycle and makes its way into the rain!
This greatly expands the list of creatures that Sevin dust can kill. Examples include:
- Honey bees
- Bumble bees
- Leafcutter bees
- Freshwater fish
- Various species in the sea
The damage depends on the victim’s size and exposure to Sevin dust.
The safest way to use Sevin dust is in an indoor environment. You can properly dispose of the dust after pest colonies have been cleared out.
Do not allow the dust to spread into waterways and ditches. Cover any spill with a sweeping compound and place the contaminated material into waste containers.
Do not use the container once it is empty. The container is toxic and should be disposed of properly.
Note: Don’t spray the product near honeybees. This is especially true if you are using honey bees as pollinators.
How to Apply Sevin Dust
It would be best if you only used Sevin dust when there’s a clear need. Make sure to only apply as much of the product as is necessary. Recklessly spraying the insecticide runs the risk of killing beneficial insecticides.
Start from the far end of your indoor garden and work backward. This will keep you safe from the cloud of Sevin dust.
Only apply the dust when there is no wind blowing. Try to keep the dust away from the flowers of houseplants in California. Speaking of which, flowers are not the primary target of insects.
Application of Sevin dust is relatively easy. As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to measure or mix it.
Gently spray Sevin dust from the bottle throughout your indoor garden. Focus on parts of the houseplant that are actively under attack.
Fully coat the top and bottom of every leaf if their surfaces have been damaged.
Some insects, like the squash vine borer, affect the base of stems. In this case, your target is the infected area of the stem and not the leaf.
Affected outdoor plants should be brought indoors before spraying with Sevin dust.
This is because wind and rain can wash off the dust, making it ineffective. Similarly, you should water houseplants before applying Sevin dust.
Once applied to houseplants in California, wait at least two days before rewatering them.
When to Use Sevin Dust on Houseplants in California?
The frequency of application of Sevin dust depends on the houseplant you are growing. Apply Sevin dust at the first sign of an infestation.
Allow at least seven days to pass before subsequent application of Sevin dust.
It is more effective to prevent an infestation than using Sevin dust. In some cases, it may be too late to reverse the damage. You can also apply the dust during periods of dry weather.
How Much Sevin Dust to Apply?
The amount of Sevin dust needed depends on the percentage of insecticides in the mixture. It also depends on the severity of pest infestation.
Make sure to study the label on the product. The label recommends how much pesticide to use and how often to use it.
You are more likely to find Sevin 5%. This product is ideal for houseplants and small indoor gardens.
The label clarifies that you shouldn’t use more than seven applications per year. Note that liquid and wettable forms of Sevin dust will have different instructions.
Never Apply Sevin Dust Directly on Pets
As mentioned earlier, Sevin dust can be toxic to humans in sufficiently high doses. It is also extremely toxic to pets.
Cats, in particular, are vulnerable to the chemicals used in Sevin dust. In some cases, it can lead to fatal injury in cats.
This is because cats are more likely to clean their fur and paws. As a result, cats have a higher likelihood of ingesting the dust.
You should keep pets away from treated areas until the dust has settled. Remove any nearby fish aquariums from the dust cloud. Sevin dust is extremely toxic to fish.
Precautions When Using Sevin Dust
As the old saying goes, safety first!
Try to minimize direct contact with the dust and do not inhale it. Use personal protective equipment to isolate yourself from the dust.
Use long pants, long-sleeve shirts, rubber gloves, and dust masks when spraying Sevin dust. Seek immediate medical attention if you come into contact with the dust.
Don’t apply the dust to edible vegetables and fruits, at least one week before harvesting. Always wash edibles before eating them if they have been treated with Sevin dust.
Alternatives to Sevin Dust
You don’t have to buy Sevin dust from Garden Tech. You can find less harmful but highly effective alternatives to Sevin dust. These will be discussed below.
Diatomaceous Earth and Kaolin Clay
The most common alternative is to use diatomaceous earth and kaolin clay.
Diatomaceous earth may be harmless to humans but lethal to insects. The small dust has sharp edges and jagged teeth that cut through insects.
Diatomaceous earth also makes it difficult for insects to eat and lay eggs. The product stays effective as long as the plant is dry.
The dust should be protected from the wind and air. Any movement can render the diatomaceous earth useless.
Another alternative to Sevin dust is Kaolin clay. It is a natural mineral with insecticidal properties. Kaolin clay makes a white powdery residue on the foliage of houseplants.
This will make it difficult for insects to feed on houseplants that have this coating. The clay will adhere to the plant and irritate them.
Small amounts of Kaolin clay dust on your houseplants will kill insects.
In addition to using the above-mentioned dust, you can also use surfactants. These substances can be used to wash insects from the plant.
You can make a homemade surfactant by mixing dish soap in water. Examples of less severe pesticides include neem oil and pyrethrum.
Insects find the intense aroma of cinnamon oil to be extremely repulsive. Yet humans use it to make all kinds of food.
This allows cinnamon oil to be used in pest control. It is particularly effective against spider mites. You can make cinnamon at home. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups of olive oil
- Place some cinnamon sticks inside a wide-mouthed jar.
- Fill the jar with olive oil, making sure to cover it completely
- Cover the jar with an airtight seal.
- Store the jar in a warm place that receives direct sunlight for two weeks.
- Make sure to shake the jar every now and then. This will release cinnamon oil from the base oil.
- Now strain the cinnamon oil from the jar with the help of cheesecloth.
- Squeeze out any remaining oil from the sticks using your fingers.
Now place the cinnamon sticks near your houseplants to deter pests.
Sevin dust is toxic to humans, but neem oil isn’t. It is a natural oil that is extremely safe around humans, pets, and plants.
Neem oil comes from the seed of neem trees. It is a natural pesticide that contains Azadirachtin. This chemical is believed to repel insects, making it undesirable for them to lay eggs.
Coat the affected plant with neem oil. Repeat the number of applications until the pest colony has died.
Here are the ingredients you will need:
- Neem oil
- Castile soap
Toss all ingredients into a container and properly mix them. Pour some of the mixtures into a spray bottle. Spray the solution containing neem oil onto the affected plants.
Predator bugs are useful when the infestation is still in its earliest stages. Examples of beneficial insects include ladybugs, lacewings, and bees.
Ladybugs, in particular, have an insatiable appetite for pests, especially thrips. A single ladybug can devour dozens of pests at a time.
For larger infestations, use lacewings. They can eat up to 300 pests in a single eating session. This makes them extremely effective against massive colonies of insects
Don’t spray Sevin dust if you want your predator bugs to survive. They are just as vulnerable to Sevin dust as regular pests.
Sevin dust is a powerful insecticide that can kill many insects and bugs. Keep in mind that it can harm humans and pets in high doses.
Sevin dust can also pollute the water cycle if allowed into waterways and ditches. This is why it is important to follow proper disposal methods.
Consider replacing Sevin dust with natural pesticides such as neem oil and cinnamon oil. Natural pesticides can deter tough insects without harming the environment, humans, or plants.
Use Sevin dust when nothing else seems to be working in a controlled manner
Does Sevin dust work for you, or are you planning to use it? Let us know how you clear pest colonies from your houseplants and gardens.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.