45 Tips For Natural Garden Pest Control
Keeping pests out of your prized garden doesn’t have to involve chemicals.
Companion plants, household items or herbs already in your spice drawer may be the ticket.
Remember, not all bugs are evil and many are necessary to maintain garden harmony.
Snails and Slugs
These slimy pests present an ongoing garden battle as they can repair damage to themselves and hide during the day while chewing holes in plants by night.
1. Re-purpose egg shells.
Snails and slugs can’t travel well over egg shells so after you crack those eggs, save the shells.
Break them up and spread evenly around your vegetable garden, dahlias or other snail and slug-prone plants.
They’ll slither elsewhere.
It’s better if you wash off the egg shells first in order to prevent other pests from gravitating toward the mucus.
2. Set a beer trap.
Don’t waste old beer after a party.
Pour it into an old tin and put it in the garden.
The snails and slugs will smell it, slide in to drink it and drown.
3. Use hair.
Whether it’s dog or human hair, they won’t travel over it.
Clean out brushes and spread around your plants.
4. Water only in the morning.
Slugs and snails are the most active at night in damp conditions, meaning that they will thrive if you water in the evening.
Watering in the morning will allow the soil to dry out.
5. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (insect dust).
This dust is the sharp, fossilized remains of algae that will lacerate the bodies of slugs and snails if crawled over, causing them to dry out.
Make sure to purchase food grade diatomaceous earth.
6. Wrap copper tape around the base of plants.
Snails and slugs receive a small electric shock from copper.
Make sure to periodically check the position of tape, but it should last an entire season and can be found at garden supply stores.
7. Pile on seaweed.
Live near the beach?
Grab some seaweed to-go.
Pile it around your snail and slug infested plants in excess–about 4 inches deep, because seaweed will shrink as it dries.
Seaweed is full of–you guessed it–salt!
It’s also a nutrient-rich amendment for soil, so should serve a dual-purpose.
8. Plant companion plants.
Slugs and snails typically don’t like wormwood, rue, fennel, anise, and rosemary.
9. Hand pick them.
Some gardeners and experts argue that the most effective method of snail and slug control is to pick them off by hand.
10. Spray soapy water.
This will kill them on contact and is useful for small infestations.
11. Plant mint.
Destroy the smelling capabilities of ants by planting mint around your home near doors and other possible points of entry.
Place the leaves around the house where you have small ant problems.
12. Sprinkle baking soda on ant mounds, then pour in distilled white vinegar.
The chemical reaction will bubble and kill the ants.
See more uses for baking soda in the home and garden.
13. Spray water mixed with distilled white vinegar.
The vinegar will wash away the ants’ scent trails.
If they can’t figure out where to go, they’ll stop bothering you.
14. Scatter bay leaves, cloves or cayenne pepper at their point of entry.
A bay leaf is particularly easy to leave in a drawer where you’ve had an ant issue.
15. Sprinkle baby powder.
Talcum powder, an ingredient of baby powder, is a natural ant repellent.
16. Make a borax and jelly paste.
Ants will be attracted to the sweet jelly, but they can’t digest borax.
The Common House Fly
The housefly is the most common fly in the world and a transmitter of disease.
Since females can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, it’s best to keep these pests under control.
17. Spray with a mixture of dish soap and water.
They should die on contact.
18. Hang a plastic bag full of water near infested areas.
For whatever reason, this technique works.
The thought is that the fly is confused by light reflecting off the bag.
Unlike most other insects, it has a field of vision of almost 360 degrees.
19. Sanitation is the best defense.
Keep areas clean and free from food debris.
Make sure garbage can lids are on tightly.
20. Use boiling water to kill maggots.
This tip works particularly well, if you happen to have them in garbage cans.
These blood-eating pests can be a major backyard nuisance.
Put away the DEET-based repellent and try these tips instead.
21. Replace outdoor bulbs near seating areas with yellow or orange bulbs.
Mosquitos don’t hover near light this color.
22. Use Bacillus thuringiensis israelenis bacteria (Bti) in ponds and fountains.
Even moving water has still spots that can be breeding grounds for mosquito, gnat and fly larvae.
This natural bacteria may be purchased at a gardening store and is safe to use around fish, birds, other insects and pets.
23. Place citronella everywhere.
Citronella is a type of lemongrass that you may plant, if your climate and yard allows.
The oil is a tried and true natural repellent to mosquitos, with citronella candles as extremely effective.
24. Plant some catnip and rosemary in pots near your outdoor entertaining areas.
Believe it or not, studies have shown that catnip is much more effective than DEET.
Rosemary works too, but you’ll need to crush the leaves of both plants to release the odor, which mosquitoes hate.
25. Apply neem oil.
Studies have shown that neem oil can last up to 12 hours as a mosquito repellent, therefore, its application has been critical to fighting malaria in third world countries.
Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the neem tree, an evergreen from the Indian subcontinent.
It’s commonly found at drugstores or online.
26. Adopt a bat (really).
They make popular backyard friends because they dine on hundreds of mosquitoes per hour.
This solution obviously depends on where you live, but homeowners nationwide are hanging bat houses outside (pictured above).
Soft-Bodied Insects (Aphids, Mites, Mealybugs)
Once you identify an infestation it’s important to treat it immediately.
Aphids are small, winged insects that can transfer viruses from plant to plant.
Look for wilting leaves and sticky honeydew substance.
Mealybugs are Wooley Aphids which have a white, dusty appearance.
Mites are typically difficult to see with the naked eye, but look for small yellow or brown spots and webs.
27. Mix a spray of 1 tablespoon canola oil with a few drops of dish soap in 1 quart of water.
Spray on both sides of the leaves.
The oil will smother the bugs.
28. Blast them with water.
29. Dab a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol on small infestations.
Repeat as necessary.
30. Plant garlic or onions near infested plants.
The smell will drive aphids away.
31. Control ants.
They feed on the honeydew produced by aphids, so ants do what they need to in order to protect the source.
Getting rid of ants makes aphids more vulnerable.
Trim the base of the plant so no leaves or branches provide easy access for the ants.
32. Use garlic spray.
Blend an entire head of garlic with 2 cups of water.
Let it sit for a day, strain out the garlic bits and mix with 1 gallon of water.
Aphids should die on contact.
Repeat as often as necessary.
33. Release lady bugs.
Buy a container at the local nursery, gather the kids and hope the lady bugs stick around to eat the aphids.
Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies, but not all of them are pests.
Look to see if your leaves are being munched on prior to taking action.
34. Put on gloves.
Your best bet is to remove them by hand and dispose of them in a sealed bag.
35. Release praying mantis.
These insects are natural predators of caterpillars.
No one wants wasps around, but they are natural predators of caterpillars, too.
36. Mix a chili and garlic spray.
Crush garlic with chili peppers and mix with soapy, hot water.
Spray on to the leaves.
This may hurt other beneficial bugs, like lady bugs, so use cautiously.
37. Use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) carefully.
Bti, mentioned above used for killing mosquito larvae, is a particular strain of Bt.
Bt is a bacteria that kills caterpillars and worms.
Popular organic garden spray brands, such as Safer, have Bt in some of their sprays.
These lovers of cabbage and other greens can kill plants by eating holes from the center of the leaves outward.
The worms hang out on the bottom of leaves, but if you spot the white butterflies (pictured above), you know there’s a problem.
It only takes a few worms to cause serious damage.
38. Use floating row covers.
These nets protect plants from insect exposure.
39. Insert cabbage heads into nylon stockings.
This prevents the worms from burrowing into the cabbage head, provided the stocking is tight around the base.
40. Use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) according to package directions.
This method is reported to have the highest success rate.
As the name suggests, these pests are tiny, whiteflies that will scatter after shaking a leaf.
Normally found on the bottom of leaves, whiteflies suck the life out of plants and can spread rapidly to others, if not contained.
41. Vacuum them up.
Afterward, seal the vacuum bag in a Ziploc bag and put in the freezer overnight to kill the flies.
42. Spray with a garlic oil, soap and water mixture.
Repeat as necessary.
43. Wash off with a strong blast of water.
Repeat as necessary.
44. Use a natural tea tree oil spray like neem oil.
Repeat as necessary.
45. Hang a yellow sticky trap.
These traps can be purchased at garden supply stores and placed in planters or other areas where gnats and small flies are present.
The best way to guarantee a pest free garden is by keeping it healthy overall.
Keep weeds at bay, plants pruned and mulch for healthy soil.
Do you have a favorite natural garden pest control solution?
Please share it with us below…
*Ladybug/aphid photo credit: Flickr, bob in swamp