Covering your grapevines with mesh netting is the best way to keep insects from destroying your grapes. However, you can also use natural insect killers to repel pests from your grapes. Insecticidal soap and neem oil are organic-friendly solutions that drive off insects. Simply spray the plants with the desired substance to kill and repel bugs. Finally, you can spray your grape vines with a produce-friendly spray containing spinosad bacteria that is deadly to insects but harmless to humans.
4 Ways to Protect Grapes From Insects
If your grapes are being swarmed and destroyed by insects, you should take action immediately to save your plants and your grape crop. Whether the insects are specifically targeting the fruit or the leaves and stems of your plants, these methods will protect your vines.
Cover Grapevines Mesh Netting
The quickest way to protect your grapevines from insects is to cover them with a fine netting that prevents insects from getting through. You will need a specialized netting with mesh openings 0.04 to 0.08 millimeters in size. This is small enough to prevent insects from reaching your grapes. Here’s how to use mesh netting:
- Use this fine mesh netting to protect grapevines from insects.
- Drape the netting over the entire vine to cover all the leaves and fruits.
- Cut the netting to size with scissors to cover an individual vine or a row of grapevines.
- Gather the netting so that there are no openings for insects to get in.
- Secure the netting to trellis posts or the trunk of the vine with zip ties.
Cover the entire grapevine with this netting, in order to protect the leaves and fruits. Then, gather the mesh together at the base of the vine, with no openings. Use soft twine or a zip tie to secure the mesh around the base of the vine. This way, the entire vine will be covered and shielded by mesh.
Use Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is a naturally occurring plant oil that kills and repels insects. Neem oil is simply the oil of the neem tree. It has excellent insecticidal and antifungal properties. Spray the leaves and fruit of your grapevines with neem oil 1–2 times per day. Within 2 days, you will see far fewer insects gathering on your plants, since they will avoid the neem oil. You can keep up the applications until all the insects are dead or gone.
- Use this neem oil spray on grapevines that are being attacked by insects or fungus.
- Neem oil suffocates and kills insects on contact.
- The scent of neem oil drives insects away.
- Spray neem oil 1 or 2 times per day—you will see fewer insects on your vines within 2 days.
- Neem oil is natural, so it is safe for organic gardens.
Neem oil can be sprayed directly onto aphids and other insects gathering on your vines. When sprayed onto bugs, neem oil suffocates and kills the insects. The scent of neem oil also works as a natural insect repellent. However, neem oil is totally safe for humans and animals. Just pick your grapes and wash them thoroughly before eating, to make sure they don’t taste like neem oil.
- 3-in-1 Garden Defense: Captain Jack's neem oil acts as a fungicide, insecticide, and miticide, protecting your lawn and garden from a variety of threats, ready-to-use with an attached sprayer.
- Comprehensive Disease and Pest Control: From common fungal diseases like rust and powdery mildew to pests at all life stages, this product offers full-range protection.
- Organic Gardening Approved: Suitable for organic produce and can be used up until the day of harvest, it provides a safe, yet effective solution for maintaining your garden's health.
Spray Insecticidal Soap
Like neem oil, insecticidal soap is a natural choice for protecting your grapes from insects. Insecticidal soap is a naturally occurring compound that kills soft-bodied bugs that prey on grapes. From aphids to worms, to mites, insecticidal soap kills them all on contact. As an added bonus, insecticidal soaps are not harmful to bees and other pollinators. To use it, follow these tips:
- Spray this insecticidal soap on the leaves and fruits of grapes that are being attacked by insects.
- You can spray insecticidal soap directly onto insects to kill them through suffocation.
- Spray insecticidal soap daily until the insects have either died or fled.
- You will begin seeing results from insecticidal soap within 24 hours.
- Insecticidal soap is organic-friendly and contains no chemical pesticides.
- Wash the fruit of all grapevines treated with insecticidal soap prior to eating the grapes.
Like neem oil, insecticidal soap is a natural way of keeping your grapes safe from damaging pests. You can even use neem oil, insecticidal soap, and mesh netting together to see if a combination of natural methods works best for protecting your vines.
Produce-Safe Insect Spray with Spinosad
Because you want to harvest and eat your grapes after you protect them from insects, it’s essential to use an insect killer that is safe for your garden. An insect-killing spray with spinosad bacterium is perfect for this purpose. This bacteria naturally occurs in soil and is harmless to humans. However, it kills many species of insects. So, you can spray the leaves and fruit of your grapes with a spray containing spinosad.
- Use this spinosad spray to kill insects without harming your grape crop.
- Spinosad is a natural bacteria that kills insects but won’t harm people and pets.
- Avoid using pesticides meant for ornamentals—these may contain compounds that are dangerous for human consumption.
When choosing a spray to keep your grapes safe from pest insects, make sure to avoid common pesticides. Many pesticide sprays sold in home and garden stores are meant for ornamental plants only, not for plants that produce food. Using a pesticide spray on your plants may make them unsafe to eat. So, stick to natural, safe sprays such as neem oil, insecticidal soap, and spinosad.
When Should You Spray Grape Vines?
You should spray grape vines for insects whenever you spot signs of insect damage on the leaves or fruit. Although grapes are most susceptible to harm when the fruit is ripening, insects can attack at any time the vine has leaves. In spring, your grapes may be attacked by caterpillars and other larvae. So, it’s best to inspect your grapevines regularly for signs of insect damage.
- Spray grape vines as soon as you see signs of insect damage to leaves or fruit.
- Insects may begin eating grape leaves in spring, or may not attack until the fruit is nearly ripe in fall.
- Check your grapes often and act fast as soon as you see evidence of insect activity or insect damage on your grapes.
Once you spot the signs of damage to your grapes, act immediately by spraying and/or covering your grapes. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to lose your crop—or your entire grape plant—to voracious insects.
What Insects are Eating Your Grapes?
Common insect pests that attack grapes include caterpillars, cutworms, assassin bugs, flea beetles, grape berry moths, leafhoppers, and leaf folders. To spot insects destroying your grapes, look carefully for dead spots along the entire vine. Larger insects will leave behind noticeable damage that will become apparent if you’re looking regularly.
- Assassin bugs
- Aphids and scale insects
- Flea beetles
- Grape leafhoppers
- Leaf folders
- Rose chafers
- Grape berry moths
- Hawk moths
There are over 200 insect species that may attack grape vines. These bugs aren’t picky—they may attack almost any grape variety. To keep your plants safe, look closely at the underside and tops of leaves for insect activity or insect eggs. Pay extra close attention when the grapes are ripening, since both bugs and birds may try to feed on your grapes. If birds are eating your grapes, use these tips to keep birds away from your grape harvest.
What Can You Do to Keep Bugs Off Your Grapes?
The top ways to protect your grapevines from devouring bugs are:
- Cover grapevines with fine mesh netting and secure them so there are no openings where insects can infiltrate.
- Spray neem oil on your grapes.
- Use an insecticidal soap spray to kill and drive away insects.
- Try an insect-killing spray with spinosad to kill insects naturally.
- Avoid using pesticides—they may make your grapes unsafe to eat.
By sticking with natural solutions for killing grape pests, you’ll be able to protect your grapes from all manner of insects. This way, you’ll be able to garden safely without applying any harmful pesticides to your grapes.