Can I Use Nicotine Tea As An Insect Repellent?

Q: A neighbor swears by nicotine tea to spray for insects in his vegetable garden. He takes a wad of chewing tobacco wrapped in cheese cloth and lets it sit in a gallon of water for a week then uses the liquid in his sprayer. Is this a good alternative to chemicals? 

A: I saw the same insect control method used in Cuba. They soaked tobacco leaves in a bucket and sprayed the resulting tobacco water on their vegetables. I noted that the gardener spraying it was careful to wear rubber gloves and rubber boots when he used the stuff because nicotine is quite poisonous. I understand that you don’t want to use “chemicals” in your garden, but several manufactured insecticides are less toxic to use than nicotine. Instead of tobacco water, consider using brand-name insecticidal soap or pyrethrin insecticides in your garden and plant lots of flowers to attract beneficial insects.

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