Repel Insects Naturally
Yes, bugs are a nuisance, and in some cases dangerous. However, there is little point to using toxic pesticides that may ultimately be more dangerous to you than the bugs you're killing. DEET is a common ingredient in insect repellents. Easily absorbed through the skin, the effects from long-term exposure to this chemical are not known, though DEET can cause rash, swelling, itching and eye irritation. Beyond that, some pesticides have been linked to weakened immune systems, cancer and brain damage, including chemicals conventional pest control companies spray inside your home.
Thankfully, we need not douse our lawns, gardens, homes and bodies with chemicals to keep insects away. There are numerous natural pest control methods that are guaranteed to pose no threat to your family, your pets or your plants.
Fill Your Yard and Home With Plants That Bugs Don't Like
The aroma of some flowers and herbs is a natural repellent to many bugs. As an added bonus, these plants generally make great additions to any home, from colorful flowers bordering your vegetable garden, to fragrant homemade sachets of dried leaves and petals.
Effective plant-based deterrents include:
- Basil - Grow in your garden to keep bugs away from plants. Crush up dried leaves and add to homemade sachets for hanging in windows and doorways.
- Bay Leaves - Set in kitchen cabinets to repel roaches. Add to your sachets.
- Cinnamon Sticks - Set in closets to repel moths. Break up and add to your sachets.
- Cucumbers - Slice cucumbers and place in pathways of ants to deter their route. Cucumbers repel roaches, too.
- Eucalyptus - Grow in your garden. Add to your sachets.
- Fleabane Daisy - Plant in garden to repel fleas.
- Garlic - Plant throughout garden. Eat lots of it as a natural skin repellent. Place cloves in kitchen cabinets to repel roaches.
- Hedgeapple - This fruit of the Osage Orange Tree repels roaches. Place one piece of fruit in each room.
- Lavender - Rub the lavender flower behind your ears as a natural skin repellent.
- Lemons - Slice up lemon then submerge in a cup of boiling water. Steep overnight. Sponge onto your pet to kill fleas instantly!
- Lemon Peels - Rub fresh lemon peels on your skin to repel bugs. Place dried peels in closets to repel moths.
- Marigolds - Plant as a border around your garden.
- Pyrethrum (painted daisies) - Plant as garden border. Dry and crush the leaves to make a dust for treating infested areas.
- Rosemary - Grow in your garden. Add to your sachets.
- Sage - Grow in your garden. Add to your sachets.
- Thai Lemon Grass - Plant in your garden. Contains citronella which repels mosquitos.
In addition to garden plantings, the flowers and herbs listed above could be effective indoor repellents when potted and grown on windowsills.
Attract Insect-Eating Birds and Aphid-Eating Ladybugs
Make your yard an attractive destination for birds and bugs that will do your dirty work for you! With bird feeders, bird baths, shade trees and bird houses, you can attract insect-eating birds to your yard (dependent on what birds are native to your part of the world, of course). For instance, barn swallows and purple martins eat mosquitos and flying insects. Bluebirds eat grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders and caterpillars. Robins eat grubs, weevils and beetles.
As for ladybugs, you can attract them by growing the flowering plants they love, including dill, cilantro, yarrow, wild carrot, angelica, cosmos, geraniums and dandelions. They not only eat aphids, but a number of other small insects, too.
Make Your Own Sprays
If you'd like to try more aggressive bug deterrents than the options listed above, you can make your own bug sprays using some of the plant substances bugs don't like mixed with carrier oils for the skin, or dish soap for direct applications on infested areas in your yard or garden.
Essential Oil Bug Repellent Recipe
Tea Tree oil
Carrier Oil (olive, sunflower, jojoba)
For every 2 tablespoons of carrier oil, add 10 to 25 drops of essential oil. You may use all three of the essential oils listed above, or just one. If you do use all three, do not exceed the 25-drop maximum. Instead of carrier oil, you may use witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or vodka, using the same measurements. Pour into a spray bottle and mist your body, careful to avoid sensitive areas such as eyes and mouth. Note, if you are pregnant please consult your doctor before using this or any other essential oil recipe.
Liquid Soap Bug Spray Recipe
1 Tblsp. Dr. Bronner's Liquid Peppermint Pure Castille Soap
1 Gallon Water
Spray on infested areas in your garden. Be sure to follow these measurments exactly, as using too much of the liquid soap can prove too harsh for your plants. To be on the safe side, it is a good idea to test on a small area first. Wait a day or two so you can see how your plants react.
Neem Oil Bug Spray Recipe
Combine 1 part Neem oil to 10 parts carrier oil (olive, sunflower, jojoa). Spray on plants.
Try Other Natural Repellants
Rub vanilla extract behind ears to repel bugs.
Spray white vinegar where ants cross the line into your home. It destroys their scent, preventing other ants from following the route.
Sprinkle cayenne pepper and/or coffee grounds where you want to stop ants in their tracks.
Worst Case Senario, Bring in the Big Guns
If and when your homemade bug treatments don't work, you could kick it up a notch with commercial, ready-made sprays. You may want to try EcoSmart and Sucrashield, as well as an impressive collection of products at CleanAirGardening.com. Look for plant-based, organic products. Beyond that, you may opt to bring in the professionals. Search for eco-friendly pest control companies in your area. GreenPeople.org's Directory of Eco Friendly Pest Control Companies is a good place to start.