Spinosad (pronounced spin oh sid) is a pesticide derived from a soil bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa.  This product is relatively new and is a quick control for a variety of insects, particularly caterpillars, beetles, and thrips. 

The great thing about spinosad and the commercial products derived from it is that spinosad is relatively benign towards most beneficial insects.  The big exception to this is bees.  Spinosad is highly toxic to bees, so avoid using it in areas where bees are active.

Action and Usages

The active products that are marketed are created by fermenting the bacterium.  It is highly effective at lower rates of application than other organic or natural means of control.  It will, on some insects, eventually kill on contact but is much more effective when the product is ingested by the insect.  Some studies have shown it to be 5 to 10 times more effective when it is ingested.

spinosad powder bottle

Spinosad is labeled for use on vegetables, fruits, citrus, tree, shrubs, ornamentals, and lawns.  When used on vegetables, fruits and citrus spinosad effectively controls moths, caterpillars, beetles, thrips, leaf miners, and borers.  Spinosad is also effective against spider mites, fire ants, loopers, tent caterpillars, bagworms, and sawflies.


As usual, read the label carefully and follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter.  Remember that the spray formulations of Spinosad are highly toxic to bees.  NEVER spray spinosad products where bees are actively feeding.


Most labels warn that the product may cause eye irritation but is otherwise non-toxic to humans.  Spinosad is not acutely toxic to birds, wildlife, or fish.  It is highly toxic to bees.  Applications should be made when bee activity is low, and the product has time to dry before bee activity resumes.  Spinosad is an allowed Organic product under the USDA Organic guidelines.

spinosad commercial packaging

Common Brand Names

Bonide – Captain Jacks Deadbug Brew

Conserve© SC (Maybe a listed professional applicator product.”

Ferti-Lome Borer, Bagworm, Tent Caterpillar & Leaf Miner Spray

Ferti-Lome Come and Get it Fire Ant Killer

Monterey Garden Insect Spray

Natural Guard Spinosad Landscape and Garden Insecticide RTS

Safer Fire Ant Bait


While it does have some downsides, particularly its high toxicity to bees, Spinosad does have a place in the organic Integrated Pest Management system.  We always suggest a layered approach to IPM using the least toxic means available, but there are times when an infestation happens so fast and with such ferocity that the normal means of control get overwhelmed.  Spinosad could be the goto last resort product that you need

Links and Resources

For more information about organic gardening, lifestyles, and living, visit our website at West Texas Organic Gardening.

If you found the information here helpful, you might also find these articles on our website of interest.

Organic Growing Myths

Toss Your Tiller


If you have more specific questions or problems, you can contact us using the contact form on our website. You can also post your question to our community forum at this page; West Texas Organic Gardening Community Forum.

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