It’s finally spring! We have our plants started, gardens in, and the kids are itching to get outside. But what about the bugs? While they are a fact of life, we don’t have to let them feed on us!
Mosquitoes are only part of the problem. Wasps, hornets, chiggers and many more are in our yards and even homes. Years ago we used everything from Malathion to Dursban and Diazanon. Some of those are illegal to use today – for very good reasons. But you can fight back naturally. Here are a few things you can do.
Keep bugs off naturally
1. Don’t go outside at dusk or dawn. It may seem simple, but these are the two times that bugs are most active.
2. Wear light-colored clothing. Bugs are attracted to darker colors.
4. Take B complex vitamins. The experts aren’t sure how this works, but bugs don’t seem to like the smell of our skin when we take it.
5. Drink apple cider vinegar. Again, not sure why, but bugs don’t like it. How much? A couple of tablespoons a day should do it. I don’t like the taste, so I make a salad dressing out of it.
6. Empty all standing water around your home. Mosquitoes breed and lay eggs in standing water.
If these tips don’t work, or you need more help, here’s a sure-fire recipe to help keep just about any bug away from you.
Simple Natural Bug Spray
You will need:
- small spray bottle
- ½ cup distilled water
- 1 tablespoon alcohol
- 6-10 drops essential oil: use any of these alone or any combination – lemongrass, any mint, lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree, neem, geranium, and litsea cubeba. My favorite is a mixture of lavender and litsea cubeba. It smells like lemon and bugs hate it! (Find 100% pure essential oils here.)
Pour the alcohol into the spray bottle. Add the essential oils and shake well. Add water, leaving enough room at the top so it will mix when you shake it. If you use a large spray bottle, ingredients can be doubled or tripled.
Shake well before each use. Spray lightly on body: hands, arms and legs especially. Avoid getting into the eyes, ears, mouth and nose. You may need to reapply it often if you sweat, if you are in the rain, or if you go swimming.
Here’s another recipe for homemade insect repellant.
Deterring bugs around the home
If bugs are bugging your home, here are a few tips for that too.
1. Use Diatomaceous Earth around your home. DE, as it’s known, is a great bug killer that won’t kill you in the process. It’s made from diatoms, tiny coral-like creatures that are crushed (don’t worry, only the shell is use after they are dead). The resulting powder is like tiny shards of glass. It won’t hurt us or our pets (keep it out of your eyes, mouth and nose), but to a bug, it’s deadly. It acts like tiny razor blades, crisscrossing the shell of any invertebrate, causing them to dehydrate. Use it on your floors, brushing it into corners. Put it on your carpet, work it in for a few days, and vacuum up the excess. One application will last for 6 months or so, even with weekly vacuuming. You can also sprinkle it in your yard and around the base of the house. (Find Diatomaceous Earth here.)
2. For ants, especially mounding ants (which include fire ants), I use and old fashioned trick – grits! Put dry grits around the mound holes and step on it a few times. The ants rush out to see what’s going on and find the grits. They know it’s food, so they carry them into the colony below. What they don’t know is that grits swell up when hydrated, killing the ants. (This is more humane than slowly killing them with poison.)
3. Soapy water. Mix up a bit of dish soap and water in a spray bottle. Spray any bug, inside or out.
4. Pheromone traps. Indian meal moths are those tiny moths that come from bird seed and other things. The pheromone traps lure them in and trap them in the sticky interior.
5. Pressurized water. To get aphids off of my plants, sometimes I use a high-powered hose. That usually works temporarily.
6. Horticultural or dormant oil. Usually made from canola or soybean oil, this is a light oil that will suffocate bugs. In my area, the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is killing the hemlocks. We use a dormant oil spray when the plants aren’t actively growing, like in the winter. I don’t like to use it in the summer, although you can, at half dose. Summer heat makes the oil sticky and the dust and dirt sticks to it. (Find horticultural/dormant oil here.)
These are just a few tips for you to try, so give them a shot and enjoy being bugged no more!