How to Naturally Kill Bugs on Kale

Kale, a common garden vegetable related to cabbage and other cole crops, serves as a tasty vegetable whether it's cooked or raw. But you're not the only one who likes to munch on kale; many bug species also love eating kale. If insect pests have turned your kale garden bed into an all-you-can-eat salad buffet, take action. To minimise potential toxicity risks for you and your family, try all-natural or organic methods of kale bug eradication before resorting to chemical insecticides.

Blast your kale with strong jets of water from your garden hose. This physically removes and deters insect invasions and also helps kill certain fragile bug species, such as the soft-bodied aphid -- a common kale pest. While kale leaves are firm and hardy, limit this bug control method to just once a day to avoid causing undue damage to your kale crop.

Spritz your kale with soapy water. The soap film coats the bodies of any present insects and suffocates them. Once the soap dries, it also creates a bitter-tasting residue that keeps new bugs from moving in. For effective results, combine a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent with half a gallon of fresh water in a spray bottle. Most dish detergents are nontoxic, but if you're worried, try using an organic and biodegradable dish detergent.

Release ladybirds in your kale garden bed. These are especially effective for naturally killing and reducing aphid populations, which commonly infest kale and other cole crops.

Remove beetles and caterpillars manually. Such handpicking is a natural and effective form of pest control in smaller gardens. Drop the bugs into a bucket of soapy water to quickly kill the pests and prevent them from simply returning to your kale.

Spray your kale with a natural and organic insecticide if you notice heavy insect invasions -- causing wilting and other signs of visible plant distress -- on 10 per cent or more of your kale plants. The manual handpicking you accomplished in the previous step can easily help you determine the level of insect invasions. For effective, natural pest control against all kinds of common kale pests, including beetles and leafminers, try spinosad. Based off of a soil-dwelling bacterium, the spray satisfies federal regulations concerning organic certification for vegetables.


Lightly dusting your kale plants with diatomaceous earth can also naturally kill any present bugs.


Keep your kale garden weed-free. Weeds commonly harbour and attract bug pests that then move on to your vegetables.

Things You'll Need

  • Water hose
  • Dish detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • Ladybirds
  • Bucket
  • Spinosad insecticide spray
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About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.