Whether you’ve spotted a couple of stray bees or have swarms of mosquitoes hovering around every backyard gathering, eliminating pest infestations is a must. They can ruin your outdoor fun, damage your home or business, and even endanger your family’s health and safety. If you don’t want to douse your home and lawn in chemicals, think about making a DIY insect repellent.
If you plan on being outdoors for an extended period, apply a repellent to your skin and clothes. Follow label instructions to ensure safety and prevent damage to clothing. DEET, the active ingredient in many popular insect repellents, makes it harder for mosquitoes, chiggers, biting flies, leeches, ticks, and small flying insects to smell us. Like DEET, picaridin repels bugs instead of killing them. Picaridin is available in many formats and is effective against ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, and biting flies.
Keep it Natural
If you prefer to avoid chemicals, natural solutions are available. Natural-alternatives blogger Wellness Mama has concocted many DIY pest repellents. The most potent blend includes the following essential oils:
- Rosemary (10 drops)
- citronella and geranium (30 drops of each)
- lavender and lemon eucalyptus (20 drops of each)
You’ll also need a teaspoon of glycerin (optional), a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol or vodka, and a half-cup each of water or vinegar and natural witch hazel. Combine oils and vodka or alcohol in a spray bottle; shake well. Add witch hazel, shake again, and add remaining ingredients. Shake the mixture before each use. If you don’t have these items on hand, vanilla is a good alternative that can be rubbed on the skin. You can use some type of mint as part of your DIY repellent.
Pest-Proof Your Lawn
Make your yard less attractive to bugs — or get rid of them if they do make their way onto your lawn — with a variety of outdoor products. The effectiveness of citronella is debatable, but some swear by candles, sprays, and torches made with the plant.
Family Handyman magazine suggests spraying your yard with a mixture of 16 ounces of mint-flavored mouthwash, three cups of Epsom salt, and 36 ounces of stale beer to ward off mosquitoes. Mix the ingredients in a bowl to ensure that the Epsom salt has dissolved before putting the repellent in a spray bottle.
Enhance your backyard bug-battling efforts by placing an oscillating fan near where you’ll be sitting. The moving air blows carbon dioxide away from you and your guests, making it harder for mosquitoes to pick up on your smell. It also makes it more difficult for the pests to move around, as they’re relatively weak flyers.
Make Your Home Less Attractive for Insects and Mosquitos
Banish clutter from your property. Cardboard makes a great home for cockroaches, so toss any unnecessary boxes. Remove piles of leaves, grass clippings, and other vegetation, as these can be hot-spots for pest activity.
Eliminate sources of standing water — especially the stagnant kind. These can include birdbaths, children’s toys, old tires, and uneven spots in your lawn. Remove dead fruits and veggies from trees or in your garden.
Cut off Pests’ Indoor Access
Make it harder for pests to enter your home or building by removing or modifying points of entry. Trim tree branches away from the house to discourage ants and rodents from heading indoors. Place mesh over vents and replace weatherstripping to make doorways less accessible. Check around the exterior for gaps and cracks. Fill them in with copper mesh followed by foam.
The right plants can help keep bugs at bay. Citronella plants can be helpful, but only in vast quantities. Basil does double duty as the star of your Caprese salad and a mosquito repellent. Lemongrass is pretty, tastes great in Thai food, and wards off a variety of insects. Companion plants help protect your garden from bugs. Dill distracts spider mites from cucumbers. Sunflower groupings help safeguard against aphids and attract beneficial bugs that eat soft-bodied insects.
From slathering on your choice of bug repellents to planting the right herbs in your garden, there’s a lot you can do to keep bugs away. These solutions will help keep your family or business safe from potentially dangerous bites and stings. You’ll also enjoy the many outdoor activities that come with warmer weather — all without swatting away mosquitoes, flies, and other backyard nuisances.