How to get rid of bugs this summer: 10+ eco-friendly tips

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

bug spray hero


For many families, summer is the absolute best time of the year. The kids are out of school, the sun is shining, and it’s time to hit the pool! However, summer is also the favorite time of year for many unpleasant pests and critters that may find their way into your home through open windows or by hiding in your pet’s fur.

Insects are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, but they aren’t desirable in your kitchen or destroying your hard work in the garden. Though it can be tempting to go full-force with traditional insect repellents, these chemicals can lead to negative health effects. For example, DEET, the main ingredient in many bug sprays, can cause memory loss, blisters, headaches, and even groundwater contamination.

Instead of using these chemical concoctions, consider the natural bug repellent and removal tips below.


How to get rid of bugs in the house naturally

Before you deal with the insects infesting your yard and garden, you’ll want to take care of any creepy-crawlies inside your home. Here are five easy and natural ways to repel bugs indoors:



1. Clean the kitchen

It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping kitchen surfaces clean can work wonders for getting rid of pests. Insects are drawn to sugary foods, and even the smallest patch of sticky jam counter can be a feast for flies and ants. Be sure to thoroughly wipe down counters and tables at the end of each day, and mop the floor regularly as well in order to catch any sticky footprints.

Take care not to leave any food out in easy reach of bugs. It may be fine to leave a loaf of bread or a bowl of grapes on the kitchen counter during the winter, but the enticing smells of a sugary meal can still draw in flies and bees. This goes for dishes as well. Don’t leave dirty dishes soaking in the sink until morning, because you may find a swarm of bugs feasting on the leftovers!

In addition, make sure that your kitchen cupboards are clear of old foods like half-empty chip bags or pancake flour you haven’t touched in months. Undisturbed food in the top of the pantry can attract moths and beetles, and they’ll eventually lay eggs leading to a possible infestation. Be sure to keep bags clipped shut at all times, or better yet store flour and sugar in airtight jars.


2. Keep soapy water handy

Though it’s a common saying that cockroaches can survive anything (including a nuclear explosion), it turns out they can’t survive being sprayed with soapy water. This is because cockroaches, crickets and many other insects breathe through the surface of their bodies. When doused in suds, soap bubbles form a barrier that quickly suffocates the insect.

Simply squeeze a few drops of dish soap into a spray bottle, fill it with water and keep it handy. Spray directly on the pesky bugs and around doors and windows in order to deter them for coming inside your home.


3. DIY bait stations

One of the most harmless, yet irritating, types of summer insects is the fruit fly. Drawn to overripe fruit sitting out on the counter, it can seem impossible to get rid of an infestation once it starts. Luckily, there is a simple and effective way to make your own bait station that will clear up the house in a matter of days.

First, fill a mixing bowl with a combination of water and dish soap. Then, float a smaller bowl in the center filled with red-wine vinegar. The red-wine vinegar will attract the fruit flies, which will then stick to the sudsy water and die. If the water loses its bubbles, just squeeze additional soap into the mixture once a day or so until the infestation clears up.


4. DIY wasp's nest



If you’re feeling crafty, making a fake wasp’s nest can be an effective deterrent to the real thing. This is because wasps are territorial, and in general won’t build a nest in the same area as an existing nest. This won’t work all the time, but you’ll have a better chance of keeping wasps away if you set up the nest as a precaution rather than to dissuade an already active colony.

To create your own decoy nest, you’ll have to reach back to your elementary school years for some paper mache skills:

  1. Blow up a balloon to the size of a typical wasp’s nest.
  2. Cut up strips of newspaper.
  3. Mix up a glue and water mixture.
  4. Dip the strips of newspaper into the mixture and layer over the surface of the balloon.
  5. Let the project dry overnight, and then paint it grey.
  6. Once the paint is dry, simply hang it from your porch to deter any wasps building a nest near your home.


5. Get rid of puddles

Why do mosquitoes seem to swarm after it rains? It’s because they lay their eggs in standing water. These eggs hatch into larvae, develop into pupae, and turn into full-fledged biting machines within a couple of weeks. Mosquitoes are some of the most prevalent and irritating pests plaguing nearly every country in the world. They are also dangerous, transmitting a number of infectious diseases in humans and pets.

To strike at the source, take care to limit any standing water in or around your house. Mosquitoes are tiny and don’t need lakes of water to lay their eggs. A small puddle in a child’s undisturbed sand bucket offers enough room for mosquitoes to breed. Make sure you are regularly cleaning out your rain gutters, fountains and kids’ swimming pools to disturb mosquito breeding sites.


How to get rid of bugs in the garden

Many families look forward to summer planting and harvesting, as this can be a great way to eat organic, healthy veggies and bond with the kids. However, it can be a huge disappointment to find your crop ravaged by hungry insects. Here are five tips for getting rid of garden pests:



6. Construct beer traps

Slugs are some of the biggest garden pests out there, feeding on young seedlings and hollowing out lettuce leaves and cabbages. Not only are they a bit disgusting to remove by hand (they leave intense slime trails), but they also feed mainly at night which can make removing them tricky.

One of the most popular DIY methods for getting rid of garden slugs is homemade “beer traps.” Slugs are attracted to the sugar and yeast in beer and can be lured into a trap for removal. Similar to the indoor bait stations, all you need to do is fill shallow dishes about halfway with beer and place every few feet in the garden. The slugs will crawl into the dishes, drink the beer and be unable to climb back out. According to this source, Budweiser is the most effective beer brand!


7. Plant flowers to attract wasps

This method may only be for the brave of heart, as most of us certainly wouldn’t want to attract more wasps into our space. However, wasps eat other insects (along with fruit and nectar) and can be an excellent way to deter pests that are destroying your garden. Wasps generally do not sting if unprovoked, so if you can get past your natural revulsion and just leave them alone they can be excellent allies for promoting a healthy garden.

In addition, wasps are important pollinators, though not as effective as their bee cousins. If you want to attract a few wasps to scare off harmful insects, try planting sweet-smelling flowers such as fennel, Queen Anne’s lace or spearmint.


8. Garden strategically

Herbs and flowers that can be used as natural bug repellents, both in your garden and around your home’s doors and windows. The essential oils in these plants are effective at repelling a number of obnoxious insects including mosquitoes, gnats, and flies.

Herbs to plant in your garden include lavender, lemongrass, and rosemary, along with insect-repelling flowers such as chrysanthemums, marigolds, and petunias. Not only will you keep the mosquitoes away, but your garden will be bright and sweet-smelling as well! You could even try planting a venus flytrap which will catch and consume flies and ants.


9. Consider native gardening only

The growing “native” gardening movement involves only cultivating plants that are native to your environment. The reasoning behind this is that native plants work within the natural ecosystem of wherever they are to support local wildlife like birds and butterflies. Species that are non-native won’t be able to adapt and thrive as well in this foreign landscape.

Because native plants are already well-adapted to their environment, they require less care and resources overall, making them the more eco-friendly option. They are also better equipped to deal with local pests and will likely have more resistance to harmful bugs than non-native plants.


10. Sprinkle Cayenne pepper

Unsurprisingly, bugs and other critters do not like spicy food. Another well-known natural bug repellent is ground cayenne pepper. You can purchase this at any local grocery store or spice shop, and it’s effective at keeping away a number of plant-destroying pests.

Sprinkle cayenne pepper on the leaves of your garden plants in order to deter aphids, lace bugs, maggots, and spider mites. You can also place some around the roots of seedlings in order to protect them from worms. As an added bonus, cayenne pepper is also used to keep away rabbits, mice and rats, deer, bears, skunks, raccoons and even the family dog or cat if you need to deter them from getting into your garden.

If these tips aren’t enough, take a look at the graphic below for more natural bug repellent ideas:


diy bug prevention infographic


Why eco-friendly pest control could be the right choice

The problem with traditional pest control is that it does not discriminate between insects and mammals. These chemicals are designed to kill living things and though they are obviously more effective on tiny insects than on large mammals, they are still harmful to humans, household pets and natural wildlife. They can contaminate the food we eat, be absorbed through the skin or breathed in. Many traditional pesticides contain VOC’s, or volatile organic compounds, which can cause headaches, nausea, and difficulty breathing, along with more serious effects.

In contrast, natural bug repellents target insects by their individual aversions, not a blanket chemical spraying that is harmful to all living things in the vicinity. When you learn how to get rid of bugs naturally, you are keeping everyone happy and healthy.

We hope you make use of these tips and enjoy your pest-free summer! Remember to protect your home with affordable home insurance options.



MadeSafe | PestsOff | Fantastic Pests Control | Hunker | Planet Natural | Garden Myths | ThoughtCo | Mother Nature Network | Earth911 | SFGate | Owlcation | NCBI | Statesman | Fight Bugs | Country Living | Buglogical | Natural Living Ideas | Easy Science for Kids | Good Housekeeping | Bob Vila

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