Itchy mosquito bites. Ant-covered food. Breathing in a cloud of gnats. Wasps, flies, locusts!
The list of ways bugs irritate us is probably unending. Want to keep those pesky pests at bay without marinating in harsh chemicals?
Then check this out. We’ve compiled a ton of natural techniques that actually work. Keep bugs away with these natural bug-battling hacks you probably never thought of.
Before you bother trying to keep bugs away, it’s a good idea to stop attracting them. Check your outdoor seating area for bug bait.
Standing water, like the birdbath you never clean and the fountain you never turn on, is an attractant and breeding ground for mosquitoes. Either get rid of it or keep the water fresh or circulating.
Keep your trash cans and recycling bins on the opposite side of the house, as far as it can be from where you plan to be outside. This will also act as an insect lure, leading the bugs away from your backyard party.
For that matter, put out insect lures on purpose. Cover the food and drink you don’t want attacked, but leave the lid off the far away trash can if it means the bugs will stay on that side of the house.
You can even leave a plate of food scraps a short way off from your burgers to give pests somewhere to go when you swat them away. They’ll want to spend time on the easy, unprotected plate and leave your guarded food alone. Meat works the best for luring yellow-jackets, wasps–the whole family of yellow and black things that sting.
Oh and, obviously, stay tidy. Keep soiled surfaces, spills and trash cleaned up as soon as you see it.
Now Lure Them Back In, To Death
Here are a few extremely easy, extremely effective DIY bug traps.
A Bowl of Soap
For this trap, you need soap and a bowl. Seriously, that’s it. Pour some generic, scented dish soap in a bowl.
Flies will be attracted to the scent and get stuck in the soap and die. If you want you can do a fun experiment to see what scent attracts the most flies.
Leave about an inch of wine in a wine bottle. Make a paper cone, with a hole in the tip, and set it on top with the point going into the bottle. Done.
Flies will be attracted to the wine and find their way in but aren’t smart enough to find their way out.
Cut a plastic bottle in half, fill the bottom with hot sugar-water, cool and add yeast, put the top of bottle upside-down in the bottom. Then watch mosquitoes get lured by carbon-dioxide to their death.
Keep Bugs Away the Natural Way
Citronella candles were probably the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of non-DEET bug deterrents. But even Citronella candles may have their fair share of unnatural chemicals.
Here are some other natural, tabletop bug deterrents you can easily whip up. Put a slice of onion in a bowl of water to keep mosquito away. Or, for a more pleasant-smelling option, take half a lime and poke whole cloves into it like pushpins.
Keep Bugs Away the Electronic Way
Here are 3 electronic solutions to your bug problem you may not have thought of.
Replace all outdoor lights with LEDs. Many of our least favorite insects love light bulbs, but they are not attracted to LEDs.
An outdoor fan for your gazebo can keep bugs away. The circulating air will make it hard for bugs to land on you. Even a simple standing fan can help.
A bubble machine is a fun way to keep mosquitoes away. They hate soap.
Grow a Bug-Repellent Herb Garden
Citronella’s not just a candle. It’s a bug-repellent plant you can put in your garden. It turns out there is a ridiculously long list of common, multi-useful garden plants that bugs (especially mosquitoes) absolutely hate.
If you don’t already grow these, add the following plants to your garden to repel bugs the most natural way possible: peppermint, garlic, basil, lavender, rosemary, lemon balm, catnip, marigolds, geranium.
Custom Bug-Spray Alternatives
Keep bugs and DEET off your body with your own natural bug-spray alternatives. Don’t worry, it’s not a long, complicated recipe with ingredients you’ve never heard of. Just pick any of these aromatic oils and add them to water in a spray bottle:
- Lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, geranium, tea tree, jojoba, witch hazel
For unscented options, baby oil and soybean oil have bug-repellent properties.
Mix-and-match your favorite bug-repellent scents to create your own aromatherapy perfume/bug-repellent. Or if you’re lazy, just spritz your body with peppermint mouthwash.
These repel a variety of biting bugs, but before we move on, one deserves special mention: ticks. Have you ever been bitten by these disgusting blood bags? Or suffered the grueling 6-month recovery from debilitating Lyme disease symptoms?
Ticks aren’t just annoying and really, really gross; unlike other biting pests, they strike 300,000 people a year with the really sucky Lyme disease. So here’s a list of naturally repellent oils just for them:
- Rose geranium, sweetgrass, pennyroyal, rosemary, rue, wormwood, lavender, lemongrass, citronella, eucalyptus.
Oh, and if you happen to grow tomato plants, you can also soak crushed tomato leaves in equal parts water overnight, then strain out the leaves, add the same amount of water again and viola! Crushed tomato leaf tick repellent, safe for you and your garden. Tomato leaves are toxic to pets, though, so be careful.
Don’t Be Delicious
Here’s what to avoid unless you want to turn your skin into a mosquito buffet.
In bug-repellent terms, wearing perfume is the equivalent of slathering yourself with barbecue sauce. Bugs will be drawn to that sweet aroma and find you irresistible.
Also, drinking beer makes you smell delicious to mosquitoes. I know; I’m sorry. Drink it and you’ll be walking mosquito-bait.
Another thing that makes your skin mouthwatering to bugs is sweat. Mosquitoes are attracted to sweaty skin.
This is another good reason to have a fan in the backyard. Also, staying hydrated can keep you cool, so drink lots of water.
But also drink some apple cider vinegar. Consuming apple cider vinegar will make your sweat smell less desirable to bugs.
Garlic has the same effect. When you eat lots of bug-repellent garlic, it comes out in your sweat. Though, this can make you smell less desirable to people, too.
Additionally, when you’re stressed, your body sends out pheromones that bugs are attracted to. So relax.
Mosquitoes are drawn to dark clothes. Keep them away by wearing light-colored clothing.
And speaking of clothes, mosquitoes also hate fabric softener sheets. Keep some in your pockets to drive them away.
Natural Repellents You Can Sprinkle Around Your Home
In addition to the other natural repellents, here are some that are safe for use around the house.
Many bugs are repulsed by cinnamon and vanilla extract. Apply these sweet-smelling repellents around your home as needed. Use cayenne pepper to repel flies and cucumbers to repel flies and ants.
Another fun trick to protect against ants is to draw a chalk outline around the area you don’t want ants to go and the ants won’t cross it.
Take Back Your Yard
No need for DEET anymore. Take these tips to your backyard with and fight nature with nature!