Natural Bug Repellents

Yesterday I talked about why having your own garden is a good way to go. In a perfect world evil pests would stay away from these gardens and so would weeds, but I think we all know that this is no perfect world. Pesticides are deadly and even in small doses they can cause cancers, neurological problem and reproductive problems even in people thousands of miles away from the source. If they can harm us then you can bet that the lower and more important parts of the food chains are also being harmed. Bees are also hugely impacted by these poisons. Why should we care about bees? Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. Some 35 per cent of our diet depends on pollination of crops by bee. And thanks to the pesticides that we and the food industry are using, we are now losing them by the thousands. It is suggested that if all the bees disappeared we would have about four years to live.  I don’t know about you, but that concerns me and you can read more about that here. So below I’ll be listing natural solutions for the real pests.

Crazily enough, most herbs and flavoring plants like lemon and such are bug repellents.

  1. Basil– There is hundreds kinds of basil, so take your pick. They all are supposed to keep asparagus beetles, tomato heartworms and thrips away.
  2. Bay leaf– dry and fresh works well.  You can put one bay leaf in fifty pounds of wheat berries or organic white flour, Barley, Oatmeal and similar items and it will keep the weevils out of it. If you don’t happen to buy flour in those quantities you can add a bay leaf to a smaller sized container with similar results. Scatter a few leaves on the pantry shelves to repel moths, roaches, earwigs, and mice.
  3. Mint– ants, aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, imported cabbage worms, squash bugs, white flies and mice.
  4. Pennyroyal- fleas, ants, flies, and mosquitoes. Large amounts of pennyroyal can be toxic to pets and children.
  5. Rosemary– mosquitoes, imported cabbage worms, slugs and cats.

  1. Sage– cabbage loopers, carrot flies, flea beetles, imported cabbage worms and tomato heart worms.
  2. Thyme- Cabbage loopers and white flies.
  3. Garlic– aphids, cowpea curculio, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, Mexican been leaf  beetles, root maggots, spider mites and squash vine borers.
  4. Catnip– aphids, corn earworms, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs and mice.
  5.  Oregano– cabbage butterflies and cucumber beetles.
  6. Cilantro– aphids, Colorado potato beetles and spider mites.
  7.  White Sage– asparagus beetles.
  8.  Fennel– aphids, slugs, snails, and spider mites.
  9. Dill- aphids, cabbage moths and spider mites.
  10. Parsley- Asparagus beetles and carrot flies.

Petunias repel leafhoppers, Mexican bean leaf beetles and squash bugs. Marigolds repel aphids, corn earworms, leaf hoppers, Mexican bean leaf beetles, rabbits, squash bugs, thrips and tomato heartworms. Lavender repels moths, mosquitoes, mice, rabbits, ticks and fleas.

Some vegetables interestingly repel bugs, too.

  1. Green Bean – Colorado potato beetles
  2. Tomato – asparagus beetles
  3.  Lettuce – carrot flies
  4. Borage – cabbage worms and tomato heart worms
  5. Radish – cowpea curculio, cucumber beetles, harlequin bugs, Mexican bean leaf beetles, squash bugs and stink bugs
  6. Onion – bean leaf beetle, cabbage loopers, carrot flies, flea beetles, harlequin bugs, Mexican bean leaf beetles, mice, rabbits, spider mites and squash vine borers
  7. Potato – bean leaf beetles
  8. Turnip – bean leaf beetles and harlequin bugs

If gardening isn’t your thing, but you still want non-toxic pesticides then you could always make your own non-toxic pest repellents or insecticidal soaps.

  • Grind 3 large onions, 1 bunch of garlic and 3 hot peppers. Mix with water and leave overnight in a covered container. In the morning, strain through fine strainer or cheesecloth and add sufficient water to produce approximately one gallon (16 cups) of pesticide.
  • Soak 10-15 diced garlic cloves in a pint (2 cups) of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain and add to a spray bottle.

Annie B. Bond, Care2 Green Living Executive Producer, offers a recipe for all-natural insecticidal soap spray, which uses 1-2 tablespoons of a natural liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap in a quart (4 cups) of water. Once this solution is mixed, it can be added to a spray bottle.

Attract Beneficial Predators Such as Ladybugs, Praying Mantises, Dragonflies and Spiders

Another method of natural pest control is attracting ladybugs to your garden. Ladybugs are voracious consumers of aphids and other garden pests. Plants that attract ladybugs include Angelica, Caraway, Cilantro, Coreopsis, Cosmos (particularly white), Dandelions, Dill, Fennel, Geraniums, Tansy and Yarrow. Ladybugs that are purchased at supply stores supposedly carry diseases and parasites that can be released in your yard and disrupt the ecosystem there and also kill the native ladybugs.

There are other insects that can aid in pest control, such as praying mantises and dragonflies. Spiders (which are arachnids rather than insects) are also highly beneficial.


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