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Natural Pest Control

 Natural Pest Control

There are about 200 species of mosquitoes inhabiting the United States, some of which may be residing in your back yard. These and other pests transmit disease, like West Nile virus, yellow fever, Lyme disease and malaria, to name a few. Obviously, natural solutions are better for the planet and people than chemical applications. Natural pest controls are also easier on the budget, while effectively reducing the presence of critters that are bugging you.

Go Bats

Confront flying insects where they hang out – in the air. This fight-fire-with-fire tactic calls for arterial weaponry in the form of bats. Bats are nearly as prolific as mosquitoes in terms of the variety of species they represent, with about 1,200 kinds that grab their meals in-flight. The common brown bat, for instance, consumes up to 1,000 insects an hour!

To attract bats to your yard, you’ll need to put up bat houses in strategic locations. The feasibility of successfully utilizing bats for natural pest control will depend on your regional climate. Mother bats like it hot to start a nursery colony, although bachelor bats will sometimes roost in man-made bat houses found in cooler climates. In any case, your chances of selling real estate to the bat community improve with appropriate curb appeal, which typically includes a secure location about 15 feet from the ground that is free of wind and positioned near wetlands, a pond, lake or other body of water. Beyond these provisions, patience is required. Although bats will usually move into a well-placed bat house within a season or two, it may take up to five years to get tenants.

Botanical Essential Oils

The volatile oils of many herbs contain chemical compounds that naturally repel insects. The oil of clove, for example, contains eugenol, a fast-acting insecticide agent that counters fleas, spiders, cockroaches, ants, flies, aphids, dust mites and several garden pests. Other essential oils that contain eugenol include cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, lemon balm and basil.

Citrus oils deter a variety of household pests, such as silverfish, fleas, ants, roaches and palmetto bugs. This chemical constituent responsible for this is a terpene called limonene, also sometimes written as d-limonene. Characterized by a pine-like fragrance that is similar to turpentine, this chemical is found in the rind of citrus fruits, such as sweet oranges, lemons and limes.


The seeds of the neem tree yield oil that is reputed to repel more than 200 species of insects, especially immature bugs. Neem oil contains azadirachtin, a chemical that makes garden plants less appetizing that also acts as a growth inhibitor. The leaves and bark of the tree also appear to provide potent biological activity. In contrast to botanical essential oils, which work by killing insects on contact or after ingestion, neem deters feeding and prevents insects from maturing and reproducing. If you have ornamental plants, vegetables, flowers, trees or shrubs bothered by aphids, beetles, caterpillars, thrips, spider mites, or whiteflies, neem is the way to go. As an added bonus, neem also has anti-fungal properties and effectively checks powdery mildew.

Capsaicin News


The zingy taste of chili peppers is due to the presence of capsaicinoids. Although there are actually six types of capsaicinoids, capsaicin is the one that is familiar to most people. In addition to producing “heat” on the tongue, these chemicals also burn the epithelial tissue of the skin, the same mechanism employed by the tarantula to inflict pain on prey with its venom. Ironically, capsaicin is an ingredient found in topical creams to address pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and muscle sprain. As a natural pest control, capsaicin is effective against spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, thrips and other pests that attack indoor and outdoor plants. It also deters animal predators, such as deer, squirrel and rabbits.

Herbal Helpers at a Glance

The following is a short list of herbal essential oils that repel pests indoors and outdoors. Use reasonable caution when handling since some oils can produce contact dermatitis. Also, do not use essential oils on pets to control fleas without consulting a holistic veterinarian.

Lemon Balm
Sweet Orange

Herbal Pest Control "How to" Guide

Controlling Kitchen Pests

Even the cleanest kitchens are susceptible to unwanted visitors. Give bugs the boot with these quick remedies.

Ants Wipe out kitchen cabinets with a damp sponge and 6-8 drops peppermint of citronella essential oil. Then place 3-5 drops of those essential oils on windowsills, doorway cracks, and in the corners of the cabinets under your kitchen sink.

Centipedes, Earwigs, and Silverfish Place several drops of peppermint, wintergreen, eucalyptus, or citronella essential oil in areas that collect moisture, such as damp basements, garages, and cabinets that house plumbing fixtures.

Mice Place several sprigs of fresh peppermint between pantry items in your cabinets, or make a solution of 2 cups water and 3 teaspoons of peppermint essential oil and spray wherever you find mouse droppings.

Pest-Free Garden Parties

To keep ants from spoiling your picnic, sprinkle a mixture of salt and ground cinnamon in the area. If our bug problems are in the air rather than on the ground, hang strips of ribbon or cloth that have been moistened with several drops of lavender oil from nearby trees or other stationary fixtures to deter flying insects. Other natural fly repellents include placing a bowl of lemon or orange peels on the table, or using the Shoo-Fly-Shake below.

2 cups lavender flowers
1 cup rosemary
1 cup southernwood
½ cup spearmint
¼ cup mugwort
¼ cup cedarwood chips
3 heaping tablespoons orrisroot

Combine all ingredients.

All-Natural Aphid Spray

Aphids, also known as plant lice or blackfly, can quickly destroy foliage and spread disease. However, the oils, salts, and acids found in this formula will send them packing just as fast.

1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup salt
¼ cup powdered citric acid
¼ cup baking soda
2 teaspoons aloe vera juice
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
15 drops sage essential oil
10 drops grapefruit seed extract

Combine all ingredients into a large plastic spray bottle. Shake well before using and be sure to apply to the underside of the leaves where aphids love to hide.