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Make your own pyrethrum

Make your own pyrethrum

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Penny Woodward is an expert in using herbs to help control pests naturally. Here she tells how to make your own pyrethrum spray.

Making pyrethrum sprays and dusts

Traditionally, dried ground flowers from pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) have been used to make dusts and sprays at home. When making or using these dusts always wear gloves, goggles and a mask over the nose and mouth.

Dust recipe

Finely grind the dried flowers in a pestle and mortar until they become powder and sprinkle over infested plants.

Cockroach bait recipe

Sprinkle a tablespoon of pyrethrum dust into a margarine container with half a cup of red wine. Pour some cooking oil over the top and place as a trap for cockroaches. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Spray recipe

Coarsely grind the dried flower heads and to every firmly packed half-cup of flowers, add 1L of warm water. Cover and leave to stand for three hours, strain and add a teaspoon of pure soap and one of cooking oil. Shake well before use. Don’t spray in temperatures over 32°C.  The spray will kill bees so use it when they are not active—in the early morning or evening. This spray will only remain potent for about 12-24 hours so any that is not used should be discarded after this time. Remember that even though this is an organic spray it will also kill beneficial insects so only use as a last resort.

Although relatively harmless to people, pyrethrum is still a poison so baits, dust and sprays need to be carefully labeled and stored out of the reach of children and pets. The flowers and dust will maintain their potency longer if stored in the fridge.

For more practical solutions for keeping pests under control naturally, subscribe to ABC Organic Gardener magazine. It’s easy! Just click here.