By Alicia of Homey Improvements
Summer is often the time of bug invasions. Everything from accidentally letting birds nest near your home to leaving the door open a bit too long is bound to bring some in. Some people don’t mind finding a few bugs crawling around, but it can send others running for the hills. If you want to keep all the bugs as far away as possible, you can make use of a few all-natural, non-toxic options.
Ants Hate Vinegar
You might not love the smell of vinegar, but neither do ants. There are actually triple benefits to using vinegar to keep ants away, as long as you can stand the smell. Just slather it on wherever the little bugs seem to be coming in. The vinegar will disrupt their pheromone trail and they won’t be able to find their way in. The smell evaporates by itself, and whatever you just put it on is now clean! Score! Might as well do the whole floor if it’s going to smell anyway, right?
Lemon and Peppermint Oils
For a better-smelling solution, there are a lot of bugs that aren’t big fans of citrus or peppermint scents, including spiders and stink bugs. Many people don’t mind spiders, especially since they do tend to eat the flies and other flying insects that get inside. Other people, though, would prefer not to have any bugs, spiders included, in their living space. That’s me!! I keep a small glass spray bottle on hand with a dozen drops of peppermint and wild orange essential oil in about 1-2 cups of water. Spray the solution in areas spiders like to lurk such as window sills and door frames. It also gives your home a fresh clean scent so I tend to do it every other week.
Herbs, both fresh and dried, can work wonders for keeping almost anything away. Fresh herbs grown in containers on your porch can help keep bugs away from the entrance, and the more they smell, the farther away bugs stay. Lemon balm and mint are all great for this. Plus, mint likes to take over everything, so that one’s nice to have in a container regardless. Meanwhile, you can make use of your spice rack for the interior of your home. Cinnamon sticks discourage ants, citronella deters mosquitoes and fleas.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is made from fossilized phytoplanktons that have really tiny sharp shells. While it was originally used to make dynamite, it can now be found in dozens of everyday items from toothpaste to water filters. I like to use it for pest control! It can kill any bug with an exoskeleton and yet it’s completely harmless to humans and wildlife (though you do want to wear a dust mask when applying it because it can irritate your lungs if you breathe it in while dusting it around). The sharp shells from the phytoplankton get under the tough skin of bugs and basically cuts them to death. It’s the perfect natural bug killer to puff into crevices, sprinkle on a pet’s bed to avoid fleas and ticks, or to defeat a bed bug infestation. It’s also a very cheap option for natural pest control; a 4-pound bag of Safer Brand’s Diatomaceous Earth for $8.99 lasted me for 8 months – and I used it a lot!
This is pretty much the simplest way to avoid bugs — just keep your home clean. Not only will it feel better for you, but it makes it harder for bugs to find a reason to come in. If you can keep it clean enough, the ones that do come in will soon die off anyway. Even if you don’t leave food around, piles of papers or empty bags can give bugs great cover to breed. Just think about how many bugs you can find in the leaf litter during fall, and compare that to piles of newspapers.
Alicia is a tea-sipping blogger who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in organic gardening, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties. Find her on Twitter: @DIYfolks