Organic Controls for Common Strawberry Pests

Controlling pests is a critical part of growing healthy, bountiful strawberries organically. As organic growers, we want to avoid using synthetic pesticides that can harm beneficial insects, soil health, and human health. The good news is there are many effective organic approaches to managing the most common strawberry pests.

Identifying Common Strawberry Pests

The first step in organic pest control is learning to properly identify which insects or other creatures are causing problems in your strawberry patch. Here are some of the most prevalent strawberry pests:

Strawberry Clippers

These little green bugs feed on flowers and fruit. They leave behind telltale round holes when they feed. Clippers can severely reduce yields if left uncontrolled.


These pesky insects suck sap from strawberry plants and excrete bubbly “spittle” that covers their bodies. They weaken plants and reduce vigor.

Root Weevils

Black vine weevils and strawberry root weevils chew notches in leaves and feed on roots. Adult weevils are active at night. Larvae feed on roots and stunt plant growth.

Slugs and Snails

These slimy mollusks chew holes in ripening fruit and leaves. They leave behind telltale slime trails and can be a major nuisance.

Strawberry Thrips

Tiny thrips rasp tender leaves and developing berries, leaving behind a silvery-bronze discoloration. They spread viruses too.

Organic Pest Control Methods

Now that we know which pests we’re dealing with, let’s explore organic control strategies:

Row Covers

Floating row covers made of spun polyester or polypropylene fabric create a physical barrier that keeps many insect pests off plants. Ventilated covers allow airflow and can be applied at planting time and removed when plants start flowering. This is one of the most effective organic controls.

Biological Controls

Releasing beneficial predatory insects like ladybugs, lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and parasitic wasps can control harmful pests. They attack and eat problem insects but leave plants alone. Always choose insectary-reared varieties.

Organic Sprays

Insecticidal soaps kill many soft-bodied insects through direct contact. Spray directly on bugs.

Neem oil disrupts insects’ feeding, growth, and reproduction systems when ingested. It also repels pests.

Kaolin clay coats leaves with a powdery film that deters feeding. It easily washes off fruit.

Horticultural oils smother insects and eggs on contact. These oils won’t harm beneficials or bees.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that kills leaf and fruit eating caterpillars when they ingest it but is harmless to other creatures.


Sticky traps lure in and capture adult thrips, weevils, aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, and fungus gnats.

Slug traps placed throughout the garden catch night-feeding slugs and snails.


Removing dropped, overripe, or infested berries deprives many pests of food and breeding grounds. Keep the garden free of weeds too.

Healthy Soil

Building soil organic matter creates ideal conditions for beneficial microbes that protect plants. Avoid synthetics that harm soil life.

attract Natural Predators

Planting flowers and herbs that attract lady beetles, lacewings, birds, and other predators provides free pest control from Mother Nature.

Crop Rotation

Rotating strawberry patches to a new area every 2-3 years limits buildup of soil-dwelling pests.

Resistant Varieties

Choosing disease-resistant strawberry varieties avoids problems before they start. There are types bred to deter common pests too.


Controlling strawberry pests without synthetic chemicals requires an integrated approach combining multiple organic methods. The strategies above work together to deter pests, strengthen plants, and promote natural predators—resulting in healthy, abundant strawberries grown sustainably and chemical-free. With observation, patience, and persistence, organic growers can reap successful strawberry harvests without sacrificing the environment or our health. Which organic controls will you try in your strawberry patch this season?

Frequently Asked Questions About Organic Strawberry Pest Control

What is the most effective organic pest control method?

Row covers provide a physical barrier that is highly effective at preventing many pests from ever reaching plants. Used properly, they can exclude the majority of insects.

How do you control strawberry mites organically?

Predatory mites that only attack harmful mites can be an effective biological control. Spraying insecticidal soap or horticultural oil directly on infested leaves can also smother mites.

What insecticide is safe for strawberries?

Insecticidal soaps and oils made specifically for organic gardening are safe for strawberries when used as directed. Always test on a small area first.

What can I spray on strawberries for bugs?

Organic-approved sprays like neem oil, spinosad, Bt, or pyrethrins can control many strawberry pests. Avoid harsh synthetic pesticides that leave toxic residues.

How do you stop slugs eating strawberry plants?

Encircle plants with abrasive copper tape that slugs dislike crossing. Hand pick nightly. Set out beer traps. Keep garden debris picked up to eliminate hiding spots.

What natural pesticide is safe for humans?

Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, diatomaceous earth, and Bt sprays made for organic gardening are non-toxic to humans when used as directed.

Key Takeaways:

  • Row covers, biological controls, organic sprays, traps, and cultural practices are effective organic pest control options for strawberries.
  • Proper identification of pests like clippers, spittlebugs, weevils, and thrips is key to successful management.
  • Building healthy soil, attracting beneficial insects, crop rotation, and resistant varieties help prevent problems.
  • Integrating multiple organic methods provides the best control strategy without toxic pesticides.