Barbecue season has officially begun! You absolutely love the warm weather, but the ants, flies, mosquitoes and other insects it brings are, well… REALLY bugging you. Not to worry! You can easily rid your home and garden of these uninvited guests—without having to resort to using potentially hazardous chemicals.
Following are seven all-natural solutions to send pests packing:
1. Keep it clean
Most bugs are drawn to food and water, so don’t give ants, roaches and mosquitoes an excuse to invade your territory! Put all food away and wipe down your kitchen counters and table right after eating, take out the trash on a regular basis and store all beverages in air-tight containers. Also make sure water isn’t pooling in plant drip trays.
2. Eliminate hiding spots
Bugs like spiders are drawn to dark, cluttered spaces. So, free your yard of hiding spots, such as woodpiles, debris and overgrown bushes. Also, be sure to seal any window gaps or foundation cracks. If there’s nowhere to conceal themselves, the eight-legged party crashers will likely move on to a garden with more ideal conditions.
3. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth
Composed of the fossilized remains of aquatic organisms (diatoms), this naturally occurring sedimentary rock is easily ground into a fine, white, talc-like powder that can help rid your yard of all manner of pests. Use diatomaceous earth to “control fleas, ticks, flies, millipedes, centipedes, adult flea beetles, sawflies, coddling moths, twig borer, thrips, mites, cockroaches, silverfish, slugs, snails, aphids, earwigs and ants.”
4. Break out the essential oils
Essential oils, such as citrus, peppermint and tea tree oil, make a powerful ant repellant. Simply combine 15 drops each of peppermint and tea tree oil with seven drops of your preferred citrus oil and a quarter cup of water. Pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle, shake it up and spritz areas where ants typically congregate, like along your baseboards. Warning: do not spray in areas where food is prepared or consumed.
5. Grab the dish soap
Whip up a batch of eco-friendly insecticide to rid your garden of potentially harmful insects, like aphids, white flies, mites and thrips. This DIY formula is easy and effective! Just add one tablespoon of liquid dish soap to one quart of water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Evenly coat plants, starting at the top and working your way down to the roots. Please note: Not every plant responds well to soapy water, so be sure to test out the spray on a few leaves first. Also, if you have hard water, opt for the bottled variety instead.
6. Bring on the basil
You may have heard that you catch more flies with honey. But did you know that you can actually repel them with fresh basil? The insects aren’t fans of the herb’s intense fragrance and oils. Therefore, a few carefully placed basil plants around the home or yard can keep the airborne annoyances away. You can also mix dried basil into the soil to help eliminate tiny gnats.
7. Grab the garlic bulbs
Garlic, much like basil, has a strong aroma that is known to repel many bugs. To make your own garlic insect spray, puree two bulbs in a food processor or blender and add a tiny bit of water. Allow it to sit overnight before straining into a quart-sized jar. Add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap (this may be even more effective than the soap and water solution detailed above!) and fill the remainder of the jar with water. Combine one cup of the garlic solution with a quart of water and spray it liberally on bug-infested plants.
While these DIY solutions are great for prevention, they won’t help with pre-existing bites! Find relief with a natural, non-greasy formula such as Earth’s Care Anti-Itch Cream, which is made with shea butter and almond oil.