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Dormant oil controls certain kinds of insect pests, but not all. It won't do any good on stink bugs and aphids, but it will control scale and mites.
Apply it in the dormant season, just before bud break. You want the insects to be awake and their respiration rate up to be most effective. The dormant oil creates a coating over the insect or egg and smothers it.
But you don't need to apply it just because you have plants in the landscape. Even fruit trees don't need an application every year.
Don't apply it when a freeze is expected in 24 – 36 hours.