Did you know the neem tree is one of the most versatile and productive forms of plant life? It is one of the sacred, ancient herbs of Ayurveda, and native to India, Nepal, Pakistan and other countries of the Indian subcontinent. Every part of it has different uses: roots, seeds, leaves, bark, flowers and fruit all have various medicinal and cosmetic benefits. Neem oil, which comes from the seeds, is quite thick and has a strong, woodsy, bitter scent. It also happens to be a fantastic, non-toxic insecticide that can be used outside in the garden and inside the home.
Whether it’s because of Vancouver’s warmer winters (climate change, anyone?) or just because silverfish love the cold, damp conditions of an older house, we have had a tough time dealing with their increasing numbers in recent years. The fact is they are worse than cockroaches in their longevity and resilience: it’s incredibly hard to get rid of them. They can last a year without munching on your books and papers!
Neem oil has a compound, azadirachtin, as well as other chemicals that seem to disrupt the hormonal pathways in munching and chewing insects, sparing the good bugs. It’s effective on dust mites, bed bugs, ants, termites, aphids, caterpillars, and roaches. And yes, it is effective for head lice, but that’s for another post.
Pour a few drops of neem oil on a cotton pad, and wipe where these nasty things frequent; in the case of silverfish, for example, focus especially on the area between floor and baseboard, where they love to hide from view.
Also apply around plumbing fixtures, cleanouts, and window sills – wherever you see them. Reapply every 10 days or so. It is really very effective, and we hardly ever see one anymore.
You can also wash wood and tile floors with a couple of teaspoons of both neem and turmeric powders in a litre or so of water. I learnt about this common Indian practice, which also controls insects, while researching Ayurvedic uses for neem, and now regularly wash our floors this way. I use warm water to get the powders to dissolve more easily. The water is green, but doesn’t discolour the floors. If you have any doubts, test an area hidden from general view first.
Stay tuned for more tips on how to use Neem!
Let me know if you have any questions, either in the comments below or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org