Quassia Amara Wood Chips as a Natural Insecticide with Homemade Recipes

Quassia amara wood chips or bark is used as a natural insecticide for getting rid of  head lice, flies, ants,  aphids, mosquitoes in your fish ponds without killing your fish ... the list goes on. This is well worth having in your home if you like natural insecticides and pesticides.

What is Quassia?

Quassia Amara, also known as the Paradise Tree, Amargo, Bitter-ash and Bitter wood, is a small tropical tree indigenous to the West Indies and South America with red flowers and red fruit, with the bark that has the useful properties. Because it is a safe insecticide to use, without any harmful effects, it is very useful to the organic gardener and farmer.

There are 2 species of this tree the Quassia Amara (Surinam Quassia) and the Picraena Excelsa. However, it is the amara tree that is of interest here. The Amara variety of is more yellow in color and hardier and heavier than Excelsa. Because it is a wood that is easy to split, the chips are dried and then made into the various sprays and solutions for home and garden use.

The history of this medicinal plant is of interest to some. Back in the 18th century, Rolander, a student of the then famous naturalist Linnaeus was visiting a place called Surinam. While he was there came across an old African American man who was known within the area for his fabulous cures of an endemic fever using the bark of a local tree.

Rolander took the bark back to Linneaus, who after doing several tests, verified how good it was, and it was this tree that was then called Quassia, in honor of the old man who was using it for curing the locals.

The quassia amara flower2

The Quassia Amara red flowers

Medicinal Uses of Quassia

Quassia has also be used as a herbal medicine for a large number of illnesses and maladies both internal and external. However, of particular importance, is that it can be used for head lice, digestive disorders, worms, malaria, diabetes, and even some cancers, among others.

Using Quassia for your Organic Gardens

This natural pesticide is ideal for any leaf eating insects such as caterpillars and even aphids, pumpkin beetles, red spider mites and the like. In fact, any chewing or sucking insect can be treated using this plant.

How to Make a Quassia Extract

You can never go wrong in making an extract from the wood chips. A simple way of making the extract is to steep the wood chips in cold, soft water overnight and then simmer them for a length of time. The decoction is then strained off with the wood chips removed. It is then diluted with water to a certain strength. 4 ounces of quassia chips makes about about 2 1/2 gallons of wash.

A basic recipe that can be used for a number of insects is to take 1 pound quassia chips and steep in cold, soft water overnight. You need just enough water to cover the chips. The next morning you want to simmer them for about 2 hours. The decoction is then strained off and 10 oz of soft soap is added to the mixture, making sure that you mix it in well.

You can now use the mixture, but you have to dilute it 1 part to 10 parts water. You can use this on flowers as well are fruit trees. However, when using on fruit trees make sure there is no fruit on the tree when you apply it.

Countryfarm Lifestyles Tip:

You will notice that there are different boiling times for the applications. Not only is this because of the amount of chips used, but the boiling time is important to increase the adhesive quality of the quassia itself. The better it sticks to the leaves, the better for combatting the insects, as it means that even if it rains, it will still stick to the leaves if it has been boiled correctly.

A Quassia Recipe for Aphids

You can safely use this solution on your plants to get rid of green aphids.

2 oz quassia chips
1 gallon water

Simmer the wood chips in the water for 30 minutes and allow to get cold. Spray your plant thoroughly, as well as the stems and under the leaves where you will find most of the aphids. 

Quassia is also recommended for the treatment of green peach aphid, tomato fly, thrips, and the rose aphid. You can knock up a big batch of natural insecticide for your orchards.

A Quassia Recipe for Vine Caterpillars

If you find your vines and fruit are being attacked by caterpillars then use this homemade insecticide recipe.

1 lb quassia chips
1 gallon water
1 lb soft soap
10 gallons water

Boil the wood chips in the 1 gallon of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the soft soap. Place in a large bucket or container and add 10 gallons of water to the mixture. Spray your plants accordingly.

For leaf-curling plum aphids spray just before the flowers open or after the petals have fallen, as long as it has done before the leaves start to curl.

If you want a bulk recipe, here is another:

7 lb quassia chips
Enough water to cover
5 lb soft soap
100 gallons water

Simmer the quassia chips for an hour. Strain off chips and add the soft soap. Stir well to dissolve. Add the water and spray when cold.

Any fruit trees can be sprayed, but it is particularly good for plums, peaches, nectarines, apples, plums, damsons, filbert and cob nut trees.

Because the caterpillars don't all hatch at the same time, spraying over a couple of days is necessary.

Recipe for Red Spiders

A mixture of equal parts of 1 % soft soap and 2 % quassia solution is one of the best sprays against red spider.

Recipe for Cabbage Blight

Getting rid of cabbage blight is a must if you are growing any type of brassicas, such as cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, radish, mustard etc. as they can all be affected by the blight.

2 oz quassia chips
2 oz bicarbonate of soda

Boil for 10 minutes in 1 gallon of water, and then allow to stand overnight. In the morning, spray your vegetables. Spray again a few days later to make sure that you have covered all the affected areas. Usually, only 2 applications are necessary.

Natural Pesticide for your Homes

It isn't just your gardens that quassia is effective.  You can use it in your homes as well. If you have fleas in the house you can use the following solution:

Recipe for Fleas

2 oz of Quassia Chips
Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes

Strain and add this to your cleaning water when you are moping the floors, cleaning the woodwork such as doors etc. If you add a little carbolic soap to this is is even more effective.

A Quassia Recipe for Flies

4 oz quassia chips
1 pint water
2 tablespoons sugar or treacle

Boil the wood chips in the water and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and reserve. Add the sugar or the treacle to the liquid and place in saucers in the areas where you want to get rid of the flies.

You can also keep flies of horses, cows, pigs and other livestock by using the wood chip extract directly on the livestock. It is perfectly harmless to them.

A Quassia Recipe for Black Ants

4 oz quassia chips
1 gallon water
4 oz soft soap

Boil the wood chips in the water for 10 minutes. Add the soft soap and stir well. Sprinkle the solution where the ants are. Repeat whenever necessary.

A Quassia Recipe for Mosquitoes

1 oz quassia chips
4 pints water

Simmer the wood chips in the water for 20 minutes. Strain off and use this water to wash windows and window frames, doors and door frames.  Also sponge down the window sills. This solution will keep away the mosquitoes.

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