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Nothing is worse than trying to spend time outside with family and friends in the summertime and getting harassed and bitten by insects! Conventional bug sprays are dangerous. Natural bug sprays are great, but can we do more? Of course, we can! These Brilliant All Natural Lifestyle Tips will keep you, your family, and your home pest free and enjoying the outdoors this summer!
Basic Pest Free Lifestyle Tips
BE NEAT + TIDY
Inside your home, make sure to keep food stored away and picked up, and keep dishes clean and counters tidy and wiped clean. Make sure pet foods aren’t being eaten by pests. I keep wet and dry foods out at all times for my dogs and cats, so I’m super lucky I haven’t attracted any bugs with their foods. We even had an ant infestation this spring, but the ants didn’t bother the pet food, thank goodness!
You should also make sure the screens are in your doors and windows, and use air conditioning, if available, instead of opening windows to help keep the pests out. I can attest to this. I have a small window in my kitchen that I like to keep open – sometimes, even if the air conditioning is on (my air conditioner is in the living room, so I don’t lose a ton of cool air doing this). My cats have scratched small holes in the screen of this window. The holes don’t look large enough to let houseflies in, but I think that is why so many are getting in this year. I think it’s time to go to my local hardware store to have my screen fixed. Make sure you inspect your screens closely for any small holes. Even if you don’t think a fly can fit through, they may surprise you!
Outside, you should be sure to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes like to lay eggs. Make sure your gutters are draining well, and flip over or cover backyard buckets, planters, toys, kiddie pools, pet water bowls, and other containers. I clean my birdbath often with my hose, which seems to keep the mosquitos away.
SHIELD YOUR SKIN
I realize this is easier said than done in the heat of summer, but covering up with clothing can protect you from pests. When you go hiking in the woods, it is good practice to wear long pants tucked into your socks to prevent ticks from latching to your skin. Wear light colored clothing, which keeps you cooler in the sun, repels insects, and allows you to easily spot ticks for removal. You can also wear long pants and shirts for gardening. When gardening, tuck your long shirt sleeves into your gardening gloves and pants into boots.
No matter the activity, remove clothing and shower immediately after coming inside. I throw my clothes directly into the washer and wash right away. Fair skinned people may also benefit from wearing long sleeves and pants to prevent sun burn. L.L. Bean has a great line of clothing for this purpose that deters pests and protects against harmful UV rays, yet keeps you cool.
Bugs are most attracted to you when you’re hot and sweaty. Stay cool by drinking cool liquids and staying in the shade as much as possible.
Plants like chrysanthemums, marigolds, and nasturtiums can be planted next to other plants to act as natural protectors. This practice is called companion planting. Planting native plant species in your garden also helps because these plants have evolved to be more resistant to the pests in your area. The best plants to repel mosquitos include basil, catnip, citronella, garlic, geranium, lavender, lemon balm, marigold, pennyroyal, peppermint, and rosemary.
I have noticed that since I got chickens in 2010, my backyard pest levels have reduced drastically, and when I enclosed my yard with a chain link fence last year, which allowed my chickens to become free range full time, I saw even more improvement. In fact, my dogs and cats seem to have fewer fleas and ticks from our backyard! Of course, please only get your own flock if you do your research, know what you’re getting into, and will take great care of them.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, a small brown bat can eat 60 medium-sized moths or over 1000 mosquito-sized insects in one night! This is why I LOVE to see bats flying around above my backyard, though, sadly, because of White Nose Syndrome, I only see about 4 or 5 at a time at the most.
Most bats that live in North America eat insects, while tropical bats eat flowers and nectar. This means we can’t just plant flowers and fruit trees in our yards to bring bats to us. If you live in a loud area, such as a city, bats won’t tend to want to live near you, but if you live in the country where it’s quiet like I do, consider attracting bats to your yard by constructing a bat house. A bat house doesn’t need to be large, but it should be placed in a location that receives sunlight for most of the day and should be about 15 feet off the ground to protect the bats from predators. You can buy a bat house, or construct your own with these free plans.
DON’T WEAR HEAVY FRAGRANCE
Heavily scented shampoos, lotions, perfumes, body sprays, and deodorants attract bugs. Use unscented or lightly scented personal care products to prevent bugs from swarming.
USE HOMEMADE CITRONELLA CANDLES
This is a fun project! With this DIY recipe, you can make a bunch of your own citronella candles to keep your home well stocked with bug repelling candles while saving money versus buying in the store. Plus, you can spread the love and give them away as gifts, too!
From Living Well Mom
USE A FAN
Install a ceiling fan in your covered outdoor areas, like a deck or patio, or use an oscillating fan, while you’re outdoors. The strong breeze from the fan will repel bugs and allow you to enjoy your backyard time in peace.
Seal cracks in your home’s foundation, and close gaps in windows and doorways to prevent insects from gaining access into your home.
Fill a small mason or jelly jar with vinegar, cover the jar with plastic wrap, and poke a few small holes in it. Fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar. They will find their way in the jar, but will be prevented from leaving once they get in there. I keep fruit flies away by making sure to clean my produce as soon as I bring it home. I use my cleaning spray, which is 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap mixed with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle.
Houseflies dislike great-smelling plants like basil, bay, chamomile, lavender, lemon verbena, mint, rosemary, sweet woodruff, and thyme. Plant these fragrant plants near doorways, porches, and decks, and keep potted plants inside near windows. They also dislike fresh lemon. Just cut a lemon in half, and wedge as many whole cloves as you can fit in the flesh of the lemon. Then, set the lemon out in your home or near you while you spend time outdoors.
Pantry moths are the worst! I have had an infestation of pantry moths and not known it until I go to use a fresh bag of flour or reach for the bread crumbs when making dinner. To take care of these nuisance critters, throw away any food packaging where you find larvae or pods, wipe shelves clean, and place bay leaves in your cabinets and pantry to keep the moths away. Also, use air tight plastic or glass containers to store cereals, flours, pet food, and other dry goods. These moths are resourceful and can even bore through unopened paper packaging to access the contents! If you see any adult moths flying around, they can be caught with All Natural Pantry Moth Traps, which contain pheromones to attract the moths. I have used these traps in my home, and they work really well. Luckily, these moths have a short lifespan, so if you throw away all packages that contain their larvae, you should be good.
Ants greatly dislike the smell of vinegar. Put some vinegar in a spray bottle, and spray where ants like to go in your home or around your picnic or patio area outside. Ants also hate walking on any powdery material and will refuse to do so. Put a chalk line around your patio to prevent ants from invading your space while you eat outdoors. You can also use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth in the same way. Just be sure not to inhale the powder as you sprinkle it.
This spring, I had a pretty major ant infestation in my home and kitchen. These tiny ants had a thruway from my basement to my kitchen counter, and they were everywhere! I was so frustrated by this problem because I always clean my kitchen diligently and keep food picked up and stored away. I just couldn’t understand why they decided to take up residence in my home when I’d never had a problem before. It must be something about this year because my neighbors are having the same issue.
I usually try not to use conventional bug poisons. However, in this instance, I was desperate, so I set out those ant traps that contain poison the ants were supposed to take back to their nest to kill the colony. Well, these ants must have been super smart because they didn’t fall for my tricks at all – the poison was completely ineffective. I ended up finding their nest in my basement while I was cleaning. I happened to have my DIY cleaning spray made with Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap, so I sprayed the heck of them! That must have taken care of the problem because I haven’t seen any ants since!
Roaches are attracted to moisture, so make sure you fix any leaky faucets or pipes as quickly as possible. You can catch roaches naturally by setting out a saucer of beer, which will attract them. Once drunk, dispose of them however you wish (I don’t want to know the gory details!). You can also sprinkle Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to keep them away.
Moths dislike the smell of lavender, mint, and cedar. Store clothes in a cedar box, and place sachets filled with dried lavender or mint in your dresser drawers, closets, and storage bins. Lavender and mint essential oils (I recommend Plant Therapy Essential Oils) work, as well – just dab a few drops on a cotton ball, and place it in with your clothes.
MICE + RATS
Mice are super cute little critters, but I still don’t want them running loose in my house! They potty everywhere, chew wires, get in the dog food, and much more. I currently have 3 housecats (2 rescues from the SPCA and one stray), and since I got my first cat, I haven’t seen a mouse they weren’t already taking care of, if you know what I mean. Years ago, I paid Ehrlich to spray my home with chemicals and set out sticky traps to catch mice and bugs, but I still had bugs and mice and hated having chemicals sprayed around my family and my home.
If you don’t have cats, you can set out some mouse traps, which are better than being exposed to poisons. I don’t like dealing with dead mice, so I just let my cats do the dirty work. Luckily, their presence must be good enough to deter rodents because I rarely see any evidence of these pests in my house. My cats also do a great job of killing bugs that get in – sometimes, to my dismay when I make friends with the stink bugs that come in every year 😉
Some people like to forgo all bug sprays in their garden and pick off the bugs one by one. I am definitely NOT one of those people – I just don’t have the time, patience, or desire to do something so tedious (to each their own, though, I’m not judging!). I’ve had great luck using Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap mixed with water. I mix 1 tablespoon with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle to spray on plants to repel insects.
You can also add diatomaceous earth, or DE, to this spray. While wet, DE doesn’t harm bugs, but once it dries, it will kill bugs and insects by destroying their outer shell, which causes them to dehydrate and die. Just be careful not to spray this solution, or any bug spray, on flowers and buds and other areas where bees may come in contact with the spray, since we want to save the bees!
Garlic spray can also be useful for repelling pests in the garden. Peel and mash one head of garlic – a Garlic Press works great for this step. Place the mashed garlic in a mason jar, cover the garlic with 1 cup of boiling water, and allow to sit overnight. Strain the mixture, and put the liquid in a spray bottle to spray on plants.
As mentioned above, make sure you don’t have any standing water in your yard, since mosquitos like to breed in these pools. Studies show that Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is as effective as DEET in repealing mosquitos. You can also use citronella (in the DIY candle above) and lemon balm. This is where that bat house mentioned above will come in handy!
SNAILS + SLUGS
Snails and slugs hate to slide across scratchy stuff like Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, eggshells, salt, and sawdust, so sprinkle one of these around your plants. You can also attract these pests with a saucer of beer. You can also bury a coffee can filled with beer in the ground near your plants, and the snails and slugs will fall in and drown in the beer.
I have to go down into my basement to access my laundry room and back door, so I run into spiders pretty often, since they like dark, damp places. I usually vacuum up the spiders and their webs, which helps get rid of the spiders that have already taken up residence in my home. You should also seal any cracks in your foundation and close gaps in windows and doorways, so spiders can’t get into your home. Keep your home and yard tidy. Clean up debris and woodpiles. Pull weeds and trim overgrown plants. I like to keep my whole yard cleaned up to prevent pests from taking up residence, but areas close to your house should always be kept neat to repel pests.
Some people recommend making an essential oil spray, but I find it just as effective – and far easier – to use cleaning spray made with Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap. Dr. Bronner’s soaps are scented with essential oils, so maybe that’s why they work so well!
For the cleaning spray, add 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap to 1 quart of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle, shake well before each use, and spray on spiders and their webs, around doors and windows, and on any other surfaces where spiders might go. I have never had an issue with this solution staining any of my surfaces, but just in case, you may want to test this spray in an inconspicuous place before widespread use. Spray this solution once a week to keep spiders at bay.
If you prefer to use essential oils, spiders dislike the following scents: cinnamon, citronella, citrus, cloves, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree. To use essential oils, add 5 drops of essential oil and 5 drops of dish washing liquid to 1 quart of water. Put this solution in a spray bottle. Shake well before use, and spray on spiders, their webs, and any other place they may travel in your home. Please note that essential oils may stain or cause spots, so be sure to test the spray in an inconspicuous area before use. Spray around once per week.
Wasps are one of the few bugs and pests I will kill outside. Usually, I figure nature is their home, so I leave them alone. Wasps, ticks, fleas, and mosquitos are all exceptions to this rule! Right now, I have a very small nest near where I store my hose. For the time being, I am leaving them alone because they have been ignoring me and my animals. If they sting any of us, I will be sure to use these next tips.
My first line of defense in repelling insects outdoors is putting plants they don’t like in my garden. This beautifies my garden, makes me happy, and deters pests all in one – perfect solution! Wasps will tend to stay away from basil, chives, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon thyme, oregano, parsley, and thyme. These are herbs, which most people don’t typically like to plant in the pretty flowerbeds by their house, but I urge you to try these plants. They smell wonderful, and some of them, including lavender and chives, grow gorgeous flowers if you let them. I have a lavender plant in the garden near my front door, and I can smell its lovely scent right outside my door and in my living room when I open the screen door window – I love it!
Wasps detest all types of mint, so plant some mint around your house. You can also make an essential oil spray with Clove, Lemongrass, and Geranium essential oils mixed with water and Dish Soap. Put this mixture in a spray bottle, and spray where wasps may want to live around your house, including porches, roofs, eaves, and other crevices (such as my backup hose holder).
Summer is a wonderful season full of outdoor parties and activities, but bugs and pests can ruin the fun. Keep them away with these Genius All Natural Lifestyle Hacks to keep your family safe and pest free all summer long!
I would love to hear from you!
What do you think of this list of All Natural Pest Free Lifestyle Tips? I have implemented these ideas and have seen a huge improvement in and around my home! Please comment below to share your experience with pests.