Yes, you can organically repel insects from your home

Tired of reaching for noxious chemicals every time you see an aphid? Live in a region where chemical plant treatments are banned? Take heart, because there are gentle ways to deal with pests.

Yes, you can organically repel insects from your home

You can fight little nuisances — aphids, flea beetles, winter moths, potato beetles, cabbage white caterpillars, slugs, snails, spider mites, voles and ants — with plant-based sprays, or use other plants to repel the unwanted invaders with their scent or excretions from their roots.

Aphids

  • Plant anise or cilantro between individual trunks to protect trees; for roses, you can plant garlic, lavender or French marigold. Aphids particularly dislike nasturtium.
  • If plants are already infested, spray them in the morning with a strong jet of water or a mild detergent solution. A spray made from tansy or stinging nettle tea will also help.

Potato beetles

This pest of Mexican origin eats the leaves of potato plants and other nightshades.

  • Remove the eggs and gather up the larvae and bugs if the infestation isn't too severe. Then sprinkle the plant with rock powder (or diatomaceous earth) to kill the larvae.
  • As a preventive measure, plant caraway between nightshade plants to repel potato beetles.

Ants

  • Sprinkle ant trails that lead toward the house or deck with the leaves of fragrant herbs such as chervil, lavender, mint, thyme and juniper, or with spices such as chili pepper or salt. The pungency of the herbs not only repels the ants, it disrupts the scent trail that the scouts leave behind for other ants to follow.
  • Plant ferns, lamb's lettuce or tansy and ants will also make a major detour around your garden.

Flea beetles

  • Flea beetles like to take up residence in planters. But if you stick a few matches (the wooden variety is best) headfirst into the soil, they disappear — the sulfur dissolved by watering drives them away without harming the plant.
  • Tuck one or two cloves of garlic in potting soil to get the same effect.
  • Sprinkle wood ashes or sawdust in your pot or flower box in dry weather.
  • Plant peppermint, lettuce, wormwood and onions to make flea beetles avoid your garden.

Winter moths

The first winter moths arrived in North America from Europe in the 1930s, and the pest has been spreading rapidly ever since. The larvae of winter moths damage the leaves of woody plants and may even cause complete defoliation.

  • Apply insect glue bands to tree trunks in early fall and leave them in place until late winter; females crawl rather than fly, so this is an effective control at egg-laying time.
  • Use birdhouses and bird baths to make sure that songbirds feel at home in your garden. They will eat the moths.
  • Spray plants with tansy tea as leaves are falling.

Tip: If useful creatures find a cozy home in the garden, pests are less likely to move in. Earwigs, for example, rarely eat living plant matter, but they do like to munch on aphids. You can make them feel welcome with flowerpots filled with wood shavings or bundles of straw hung upside down in forked branches. Piles of dead wood, hedges, woodpiles, dry masonry walls, organic mulch and piles of leaves provide shelter for earthworms, toads, frogs and lizards.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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