Natural Pest Control: 9 Non-Toxic Ways to Keep Summer Bugs at Bay

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Summer is the season for entertaining guests – and keeping unwanted pests from joining the festivities.

When planning backyard barbecues or pool parties, you’ll want to keep mosquitoes, ants and other interlopers at bay. Fortunately, there are many safe, natural ways to control summer pests.

Woman Relaxing With Book in Backyard After Preparing for Summer Bugs with Natural Pest Solutions |

“When the need to control arrives, use mechanical and nontoxic methods first,” says Barbara Dale, marketing and public education manager at Beyond Pesticides, an organization the promotes “a world free of toxic pesticides.”

Following are nine ways to naturally keep summer pests on the run:

1. Plug in a fan

Whether you’re sitting around the pool or reading a book on your deck, plugging in a fan can keep gnats, mosquitoes and other flying insects out of your personal space.

“What feels like a nice breeze to you will be a gale-like windstorm for a skeeter,” Dale says.

2. Sprinkle some cinnamon

If you have a beehive near your house, consider carefully sprinkling cinnamon around the hive every day for a week or so. According to the experts at Minnesota-based Environmental Pest Management, bees hate the smell, and might decide to relocate.

If your problem is less serious – just bees and wasps hanging around, not a hive itself – cut a soda bottle in half and make sure the remaining half is filled with sweet soda.

This will attract bees by the score – who will then take a swim in the soda before drowning.

3. Wipe down counters regularly

Ants are attracted to little bits of food that fall from our hands, mouths and plates. So, it’s important to keep things clean in the kitchen and elsewhere.

Soapy water in a spray bottle or on a sponge will kill individual ants and erase the pheromone (chemical scent) trail that lines of ants follow,” Dale says.

4. Hang flypaper

If flies are buzzing around your head and driving you to distraction, turn to an old-fashioned remedy – flypaper.

The sticky stuff has a fragrance that brings in the flies, who then are trapped. Hang flypaper on walls and from ceilings, or around windows.

7. Spray some peppermint

Spiders, ants and mosquitoes all hate the scent of peppermint. So, get some peppermint oil and add several drops to water in a spray bottle. Then, spray in areas where insects gather, including spiderwebs.

6. Stock a pond with fish

If mosquitoes are driving you nuts, send them to “sleep with the fishes.”

For this to work, you’ll need a permanent water pool, like an ornamental pond. “Stock it with mosquito-larvae-eating fish, such as goldfish, koi or guppies,” Dale says.

7. Lay down the line in chalk

Ants do not like walking through chalk dust. So, drawing a simple line of blackboard chalk can keep them where they belong.

An alternative to chalk is to put down lines of cayenne and black pepper as repellants. However, Dale notes that all of these are temporary fixes. For a permanent solution, check out tip No. 8.

8. Seal points of entry

Ants, centipedes and other summer pests will look for any entryway – no matter how small – to get into your home. So, make sure you make them feel less welcome. 

“Identify the points of entry into your home, and seal them out,” Dale says.

This includes fixing holes in screens, and cracks in the foundation or basement walls. “Silicone caulk is an excellent permanent sealant,” Dale says.

9. Keep at it

Remember that shooing away insects is not a “one and done” exercise. “Pests are virtually never eradicated, so monitor the problem and take action as needed,” Dale says.

For more tips on fighting pests naturally, check out Beyond Pesticides’ ManageSafe™ page.