Whey as a Natural Insecticide

Final Report for FNC12-855

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $2,568.17
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
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Project Information


We used a combination of Summer Squash, Zucchini, and melon seeds for these mounds.  We bought Powdered Whey from Walmart and used the liquid whey from my cheese making.

All in all, I like using the liquid whey over the powdered.  Lots cheaper.


We have been using the liquid whey, from my cheese making to put on squash, cucumber and watermelon plants outside my milk kitchen for the past couple years.  I noticed it worked well keeping bugs from those plants

Janet Hurst encouraged me to try for a grant to research this whey as an insecticide in a controlled test.
I thank her for the help.

Project Objectives:

The objective of this test was to see if using liquid whey, or powdered whey would work as an insecticide.

In conclusion, the liquid whey and the powdered whey work as a deterrent for squash bug, but not on cucumber beetles.


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  • Dale DeWeese


Materials and methods:

When I poured whey on the ground, it was about 2 cups per mound.

Test plot #1; Watered each plant on the ground with liquid Whey. Plants are the largest in this test. We do see 3 batches of eggs on different plants. Find 2 squash bugs. 1 plant had cucumber beetle damage, along with the bugs.

When I sprayed the whey, I made sure it was well coated.

Test plot #2; We sprayed liquid Whey on plants. Plants are large, and healthy looking. Only counted 2 squash bugs. We do have bugs that are yellow with black stripes, and yellow with black spots. I have identified them as Cucumber beetles. There is leaf damage. Under side of damaged leaf are these cucumber beetles. Numbering in the 8 to 10, per leaf damaged. Leaf damage is at least one to two leaves per plant.

Test plot # 3; This is the plot we added to see if using ½ strength liquid Whey would work. We found that we had more leaf damage. 3 hills were fine. More eggs were found, 4 batches, in this plot. Still had damage from the Cucumber beetle

Test plot# 4; We dusted the plants with the powdered Whey. Plants look healthy. Minimum cucumber beetles,(4) no squash bugs, and no squash bug eggs. The damage to the leaves is minimal.

Research results and discussion:

Liquid Whey, from cheese making is a cheap, environmentally safe, insect deterrent, and a pretty good fertilizer. The plants with the Whey added had great growth throughout the season. With no bad impact on the environment.

We get total use of our milk. From grass, hay and vegetables, to feed the goats, to produce the milk, to making cheese for us, to use the by-product, Whey to use back on the grass hay and vegetables. Full circle. No harm!

We had a friend of ours using the liquid Whey on her cucumber plants, in her garden. She found success with the Whey also, and there was no ill effect for the honey bee’s. She thinks it helped attract them for pollination.

Impact of Results/Outcomes

It was very interesting to see the difference in the plants that received whey and the row that didn't get any.  The growth rate was very noticable.  Great fertilizer.
And to find out that it isn't an insecticide, but a deterrent.  But doesn't work at all on Cucumber beetles

Participation Summary

Project Outcomes


Potential Contributions

The use of Whey is very helpful for plants.  Bigger cheese makers should make use of their by-products, by putting on their fields and gardens

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.