A couple of days ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of some kind of creepy-crawly asking what it was and how to stop it from destroying her flowers. I had no idea what it was but, as an avid gardener (and equally avid sitting outsider) myself, I did have some answers for her. So I thought I would share them here as well.
Note: I am a major treehugger and do not use chemical pesticides in my garden, so all of my suggestions below are organic and non-toxic.
Embrace the Circle of Life
The best thing you can do to control insects is to encourage things that eat them to visit. These include birds, toads, bats, and other insects.
This article has a lot of detailed information on how to attract specific birds to your yard:
The Best Birds for your Garden (Organic Gardening)
If you’re looking for a quick summary of what you can do, this article should do the trick:
How to Attract Bug-Eating Birds (Gardener’s Supply Company)
According to this National Wildlife Federation article, a single adult toad can eat 10,000 insect pests over the course of an average summer. Read the article for tips on making your garden toad-friendly, which includes adding a ceramic toad house in the right location. You can buy toad houses at garden supply stores or online or make your own, as seen in this Defenders of Wildlife video:
Mosquitoes may not do damage to your garden, but they sure can damage your ability to enjoy one! Bats LOVE to eat mosquitoes (and other pests) and Bat Conservation International offers great tips on how and where to install bat houses to attract these flying foxes to your home. They also have building plans for making your own bat house and provide a list of vendors selling pre-made ones that meet BCI’s criteria.
Roses are beautiful flowers for any garden but aphids can really do a number on them. Fortunately, aphids are to ladybugs as chocolate is to, well, me. 🙂 You can buy adult ladybugs at garden supply stores and, yes, even on Amazon!
Environmentally Friendly Insect-Killing Products
Insecticidal soap works great against many plant-eating bugs. And it’s totally harmless to everything that comes into contact with it. You can buy insecticidal soap in all the usual places but it’s also one of the easiest things you can make yourself: just mix some dishwashing soap in water and put it in a spray bottle. There are a few DON’TS here—for example, don’t use any product with detergent, degreaser, or antibacterial products—so please read the article in full before making your own. You also need to spray the mixture on the bugs themselves for it to work.
If your biggest pest problem is slugs and snails, check out Monterey Sluggo Snail & Slug Control For Organic Gardening. It’s made of iron phosphate and simply breaks down into organic fertilizer. I’ve used it for years and it really has made a difference to my hostas and tomato plants.
Other Pest Control Tips
One of the easiest ways to keep mosquitoes away is with an electric fan (something I only learned about last year from this New York Times article.) I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I just got a new fan so fingers crossed!
I’ve also seen a lot of stories shared that involves a 2-liter soda bottle and some ingredients to create carbon dioxide to attract and trap mosquitoes. I’ve also seen multiple articles saying it didn’t work. However, it doesn’t involve a lot of time or money, so if you wanted to give it a try, here’s one of the articles that explains how it works:
Homemade Mosquito Trap (Goods Home Design)
Somebody also suggested to me once that a good way to keep wasps away when you’re eating outside is to create a small plate of the same food before the meal and put it in a location away from where you’ll be eating. Again, not something I’ve tried myself but it seems to make sense.
How about you? Do you have any surefire methods for stopping bugs from, well, bugging you? If so, share your tip in the comments below!
- I’ve linked in this blog post to the Amazon product pages for some of the products discussed. I am an Amazon Associate, which means I do get commissions from Amazon if you make purchases from them after clicking on one of those links.