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Natural, Low-Cost Pest Solutions

Warm weather is a perfect recipe for outdoor fun and a great time for home projects, starting with getting rid of those unwanted pests. If you prefer to take a more natural approach and avoid hazardous chemicals, try a few of these natural tips to control those pesky pests: 

Essential oil mixtures and all-purpose sprays
• Mosquitoes: Mix 1 cup of grain alcohol with 2 1/2 teaspoons of citronella, lemon eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, or tea tree essential oil.

• Flies: Mix 1 cup of grain alcohol with 2 1/2 teaspoons of geranium or lavender, or mix 1/2 cup of witch hazel, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 30-50 drops of citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, cajeput, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender, or mint essential oil.

• Spiders: Fill a 16 ounce bottle with water, 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap, 5 drops of peppermint oil, and shake the mixture well.

• Fleas: Mix 1 cup of water with 6-7 drops of rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and citronella essential oils. Spray your pet’s coat every other day.

For a more all-purpose spray, consumers can also add 2 tablespoons of liquid peppermint castile soap to 1 gallon of water and spray it on all countertops, hard surfaces, and baseboards.

Pest-specific solutions
• Sprinkling used coffee grounds around windows and doors has been shown to be a natural repellent for ants.

• Placing catnip in infested areas has been shown to repel cockroaches. 

• Sprinkling chili pepper flakes around garden plants and in the home can repel larger pests, like deer and rabbits, and even smaller bugs like ants, too.

Backyard insecticides
Homemade sprays are useful for controlling insects, though keep in mind that any insecticide or repellent stands the chance of potentially harming plants. However, monitoring how well the spray is working and the progress of your plants should help in adjusting the ratio of ingredients to make them safe.

• Oil Spray: Mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap and shake the mixture thoroughly. When you’re ready to use it, add 2 teaspoons of the mixture to 1 quart of water, shake the mixture, and apply it to your plants.

• Soap Spray: Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of mild liquid dish soap with 1 quart of water and spray it on the surfaces of plants during the evenings or early mornings before it gets too hot outside.

• Garlic Spray: Puree two full bulbs of garlic with a small amount of water and allow it to sit overnight. Strain the mixture in a 1-quart jar and add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap, and enough water to fill the jar. Combine this mixture with 1 quart of water and spray it on plants to repel bugs.

• Chili Pepper Spray: Mix 1 tablespoon of chili pepper powder with 1 quart of water and 6-7 drops of mild liquid dish soap. Spray the mixture on plants liberally.

Plant and herb repellents 
There are a number of different plants and herbs shown to repel insects and animal: 

• Herbs like basil, lavender, lemongrass, lemon thyme, mint, and rosemary are all natural repellents for mosquitoes. 

• Lavender and bay leaves are also effective for repelling flies, while dill and fennel repel aphids.

• Ornamental flowers like alliums, chrysanthemums, marigolds, nasturtiums, and petunias also repel a large range of insects and can look great in your garden and backyard.
Source: Consumer Affairs