Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bacillus Thuringiensis

Commonly called BT, bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occuring bacterial disease that only effects specific insects.
The main problem with most (if not all) insecticides is that they kill all insects - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  When the good (or beneficial) bugs are killed it takes longer for them to regroup and often you see outbreaks in the bad populations. 

The good bugs are gone - the bad bugs move in with all of the aunties, uncles, nephews, nieces - the whole clan.  And you are left to clean it up.

Not a problem with Bt. 
There are different strains of Bt naturally occuring in the soil around the world.  Kind of like the Flu with humans.  Different strains effect different insects:

Kurstaki Strain
  • Vegetable insects
    • Cabbage worm
    • Tomato and tobacco hornworm.
  •  Field and forage crop insects
    • European corn borer
    • Alfalfa caterpillar,
    • Alfalfa webworm.
  •  Fruit crop insects
    • Leafroller.
    • Achemon sphinx.
  •  Tree and shrub insects
    • Fall webworm,
    • Leafroller,
    • Pine budworm,
    • Pine butterfly,
    • Red-humped caterpillar,
    • Spiny elm caterpillar,
    • Tent caterpillar,
    • Western spruce budworm.
Israelensis Strains
  • Mosquito
  • Fungus Gnat
  • Black Fly
San Diego / Tenebrionis Strains
  • Elm Leaf Beetle
  • Colorado Potato Beetle
  • Cottonwood Leaf Beetle
Why should I care?  It's a natural alternative to pesticides that is safe around you, your children, your pets and the environment.  And the Good Bugs get to live too!  (btw - not all Ugly bugs are bad - Ugly bugs need love too!)

Get your hands dirty!


  1. I agree with your article. If we can learn to let nature take its course we'll be O.K.

  2. So, what products are available that one can apply to garden areas to cause the bad insects to develop this bacterial disease? I read on the link it actually destroys the bad bugs' stomachs? Interesting, huh?

  3. We love Bt in all it's forms! As a market garden, Btt was a godsend for potato beetle - but now it's hard to find! We love getting the bad bugs without hurting the good bugs, the birds, the butterflies, the dogs, the cats, the chickens........well, you get the idea!

  4. Read with great interest... where can you get this wonder bacteria?
    The insect that gives my gardens the most grief is the root weevil, what is your solution to that pesky little leaf notcher?

  5. I like the list you included at the end.

  6. Bacillus Thiringiensis is available at most garden centers and farm supplies - if you have trouble finding it there it is available mail order or online. Parasitic Nematodes are the best Organic way to control the root weevils - you can also try putting out a shallow container of water if they are in your houseplants and they will crawl in at night and drown.
    Thanks for the comments!


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