Pest Control

I know this is the wrong time of year for this information but like I said in a previous post. I’m trying to clean up my website and I’m now onto the subject of pests. 🙂


Bugs Away Spray

This homemade spray is effective on whiteflies and aphids, two pests which may show up if you’re starting seedlings indoors:

Put into a pint mason jar or non-metal pan:

* 1/4 cup dried leaves of any Tagetes species (marigolds), but especially T. minuta and T. patula
* 1 tablespoon tobacco
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne OR 1 teaspoon any hot pepper flakes

Pour 1 cup boiling water over herbs, cover, and let steep for 2 hours. Strain out herbs. Add 1/4 cup biodegradable dish soap. Pour into bottle and cork or cap.

This is a concentrate: dilute 1/4 cup concentrate with 3/4 cup water to use. Fill spray bottle. Spray bug-infested plants, especially on growing tips and on undersides of leaves. Next day, mist with plain water. Repeat one week later. I’ve found this spray works better than Safer Soap, doesn’t hurt the plants, and gives me a grand excuse to say that my non-Calendula marigolds are blooming in my garden for more than just a pretty.

Leda Meredith


Repel Mosquitos

This is something I saved and it is from the well known Michigan herbalist Joyce Wardell.

Here in Northern Michigan, we also put in our claim for the mosquito as state bird! Mosquitoes are first attracted to heat, second to Carbon di-oxide and lastly to lactic acid. When they sense all three, they know they have a blood target. The most effective natural defenses either mask your heat, lactic acid and Carbon di-oxide, or make a barrier.

Mud is the most effective, but socially questionable. But many times when I’m out gathering, I’ll smear mud on – not only does it prevent the mosquitoes from being able to bite you – it’s soothing and cooling to the skin and masks your scent providing better opportunity to see the fauna as well as flora.

Smudge pots – punch a few holes in a coffee can, put some hot coals in the bottom and burn small amounts of green cedar or damp leaf debris for smoke. Excellent if you know ahead of time you’re walking into a swamp at dusk – but must maintain your smudge pot.

Smudge sticks – wrap dried aromatic herbs in a tight bundle with thin wire, or string light and let smoke. Lavender, rosemary, yarrow, cedar all work great. I sometimes wear them in the back “pocket” of a baseball cap.

Crushing fresh aromatic plants and rubbing them on your skin works only for a little bit – BUT if you crush the plants, then sit very still, not quite next to someone who is busy swatting mosquitoes – the mosquitoes will target the other person who is releasing more Carbon di-oxide and lactic acid into the air than you are. Sneaky, but effective.

Eating sources that are rich in B vitamins seems to help (helps inhibit the build-up of lactic acid, I believe) thus the brewers yeast defense – plantain seeds were used here.

I’ve tried lots of EO singles and blends with pennyroyal, lavender, citronella, rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, etc. I find them more effective against black flies and gnats than mosquitoes.

Just a note: the Anishinaabe work for mosquito is skee-kee-mahg – which is actually mosquitoes. There is no singular word for mosquito – because there never is just one, you know.



Bug Repellents for Plants

Bug Spray for the Garden

* 12 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 oz. mineral oil
* 1 pt. water
* 1/4 oz. Palmolive soap

Use lots of finely chopped garlic soaked in mineral oil at least 24 hours. Add 2 tsp. oil to 1 pint water and 1/4 oz palmolive soap. Kills cabbage moths, cabbage loopers, earwigs, leafhoppers, mosquitoes and larvae, white flies, some aphids on contact, houseflies, June bugs, squash bugs. Bugs killed slowly are cockroaches, lygus bugs, slugs, and horn worms. Not effective on ladybugs, Colorado potato beetles, rodents, grasshoppers, grape leaf skeletonizers, and sow bugs.

Bug Repellents for Plants

* 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
* 1 cup rubbing alcohol
* 1 tsp. Ivory Liquid
* 1 qt. water

Mix together. Spray on plants. It works on white flies and mealy bugs and probably other pests that like your plants. However, be careful not to spray into the eyes as it will burn.

Ant Bait

* Epsom Salts
* White Sugar

Mix equal parts of Epsom Salts and white sugar. Sprinkle around the nest or put it in small containers where the ants like to go. (They take it back to the nest and feed everyone!) This won’t harm other animals although it may make very small ones – kittens, pups, etc, have a bit of diarrhea if they eat much of it. Resist the urge to kill the ants you see when they gather at the “Free Food” as you want them to carry it home to wipe out the nest.

Earwig Bait

* 1 tsp. vegetable oil
* 1 tsp. water
* 1 tsp. molasses
* 1 tsp. dry yeast

Mix together. Sink a small tin (tuna, sardine, jar lid, etc.) into ground and add the mix. This is best if put way under bushes,or back in a corner out of the way – earwigs are very shy and like dark secluded places.

Old Fashioned Bug Getter (grandma used it)

Throw soapy water (after dishes, etc.) on infested plants.

Snails and Slugs

Sink small tins (tuna, sardine, jar lid etc.) into ground and fill with beer. They crawl in and can’t get out. (Too drunk maybe?) OR – put ring of salt (pickling, road, etc. – whatever is available and cheapest) around plants or flower beds. When they try to crawl through the salt they get dehydrated and die.


Wipe leaves with rubbing alcohol to get rid of mites, white fly, etc. OR – mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 1 gallon of water and spray plants.

Wasp/Yellow Jacket Trap

Use a large jar (like bulk mayonnaise or pickles come in). Cut a piece of window screen large enough to cover top of jar when pushed down in the middle like a funnel. Cut hole about size of your finger in the “point” of the funnel. Put about 1 inch of water with a little vegetable oil in it into the jar. Add a mound of canned tuna (about half a can – depending on size of the jar). Add screen funnel and fasten with string, elastic, etc. tightly around top. Set jar where wasps can find it – preferably a sunny location. Wasps come for the tuna and they can crawl in through the hole but don’t have the brains to
crawl back out. They fall into the water/oil and that is the end of them. Set these out early in the year when new queens are just starting out and you might prevent a new nest from starting.


Insect Repellant

I make a formula for insect repelling; I use:

* 2 ounce Sesame seed oil base
* 1/2 ounce Citronella oil
* 1/2 ounce Lemongrass oil
* 1/2 ounce Cedar oil
* 1/2 ounce Rosemary oil

This is a strong mixture if you want to you can add more sesame oil and test run a weaker version. I use it on my hat (straw hats) on my socks (smells great in the laundry 😉 and some on the skin, but test it on yourself first. My dogs hate it but sometimes I use it on them if bothered by biting flys or knats.

Susan in Texas, where the bugs run in herds

“Skeeter Beater”

* 2 cups witch hazel
* 1 1/2 tsp citronella eo
* 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine into a spray bottle. Shake vigorously before using. Requires no refrigeration. Apply liberally. From the Herbal Body Book by Stephanie Tourles.


Herbs Used for Pest Control


To repel slugs, snails, and aphids.


Plant basil and tomatoes in parallel rows, or plant basil as a border around the tomato patch. Helps to repel hornworms, white fly, and aphids. Pots of basil may also be placed next to a frequently opened door to keep flies and mosquitoes away.


To repel fleas, grubs, caterpillars, moths, and weevils. Dried bay leaves placed in jars of stored grain deter weevils. Scattering leaves on pantry shelves repel ants. Dried leaves folded into clothing are a good substitute for moth balls. If you’re plagued by cockroaches , spread some crushed bay leaves around your kitchen cupboards.


Borage is said to strengthen the resistance to insects and disease of any plants neighboring it. It is an especially good companion for strawberries.


Mix two tablespoons of red pepper (just the regular kind you find in your local grocery store) and six drops of dishwashing soap in a gallon jug of water. The concoction works best if you let it ferment overnight, and then stir it to dissolve as much of the red pepper as possible. The formula worked best on brassica crops cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collards. The same ingredients are wonderfully effective in deterring ants in the kitchen. Just a dousing at entry points, or a small sprinkling on ant trails will reroute the workers, or even completely discourage them.


Splash some chamomile tea on your exposed skin, face, arms, and legs before going


Used for apple scab and aphids. Made into a strong tea and used as a spray, it can be used for downy mildew and powdery mildew.


Used for aphids, red spider mites and moths


Deters cabbage moth and carrot fly.


Is a powerful insect repellant and is said to repel cockroaches, according to a report in Science News.


Can be used as an insect repellant.


Inter-planted in the garden, garlic is effective against onion flies, Japanese beetles, grubs, black fly, and red spider mites. Garlic grown in a circle around apple trees hinders borers and weevils. Under-plant roses to discourage aphids.


Keeps moths away, can act as a bug repellent for flies and mosquitoes.


Most natural insect repellents are made with an essential oil distilled from citronella, a grass indigenous to Southern Asia. Other aromatic essential oils commonly found in natural insect repellents include cedarwood, lemongrass, and peppermint.

Lemon verbena:

Deters midges and flies.


Mints deter white cabbage moths, by repelling the worm’s butterflies. They also reduce aphid populations by repelling the ants that carry them into the plants. Mint planted near doorways, or as a foundation plant, will help keep ants from entering the house and ward off mosquitoes. Planted around a dog run, mint will divert black flea beetles. Mint is also effective dried and can be scattered on kitchen selves to repel ants, used in sachet form against clothes moths, and placed in dog bedding against fleas.

Neem tree:

is thought to repel locusts, and the extracts of its leaves and fruit fend off as many as 200 species of insects, worms and mites.


Repels cabbage butterflies.


Repels rose beetles and carrot flies.


Has the ability to repel ants, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fleas, and even mice.


Rosemary helps repel moths, mosquitoes, bean beetles, and carrot flies. It is effective fresh or dried can be used in closets to ward off clothes moths and silverfish.


Repels cabbage white butterflies, carrot root flies, moths, ants, slugs, and sticks. Sprinkle dried crumbled age around plants to ward off fungal diseases.


Deter bean beetles.


Thyme is effective against moths, cabbage root flies, and white flies, which makes it a good companion to eggplant and anything in the cabbage family, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.


Yarrow can take care of a number of pests such as fleas, ticks, and mosquito.

Some Combinations:

All Purpose:

Mix equal parts of yarrow, lavender leaves, and chopped onion. add enough hot water to cover and steep overnight. Strain and use as a spray.

Mold and fungal diseases:

Mix five tablespoons chopped garlic with three tablespoons grated soap (or liquid dish soap). Add one quart of boiling water, allow to cool then strain and use as a spray.

This is an old-fashioned way to help fight fungal disease on your plants, kelp has been added to strengthen the plants by the important of trace minerals. Simmer 1/4 cup fresh or dried horsetail in 4 cups of water in a non-metal or stainless steal pan for 25 minutes. Continue to steep for 24 hours. Strain and reserve the tea. Add 1/2 teaspoon of kelp extract. Spray on affected plants as needed.

Caterpillars, aphids, and flea beetles:

Mix equal parts of chopped mint, onion , garlic and lavender stems. Cover with water and steep for 24 hours, strain and use as a spray.

All purpose including slugs and snails:

Cover wormwood leaves with boiling water and let steep for 3 hours. Strain and dilute with 3 parts water. Especially useful when sprayed around young plants and seedlings. For an insect repellant combine lavender, pennyroyal, pyrethrum, southwood, tansy and wormwood. Make an infusion and apply to the skin when cool or spray in a room.

Thrips, moths, aphids and spider mites:

Steep 1 rounded cupful of dried feverfew flowers in 1 quart of hot soapy water for 1 hour. Strain, allow to cool and use as a spray.

Powdery mildew and aphids:

Boil nettles for 10 minutes in just enough water to cover. Cool, strain and use as a spray.


Mite Control in Honeybees With Essential Oils


Dust Mite Allergies

Plant oil vapors extinguish dust mites

from my mite files…read carefully…just giving ideas…Joanie

page 136.


Wintergreen and other plant oil vapors kill dust mites within close proximity, making them an effective and pleasant-smelling way to eliminate the arachnids in small-volume areas, such as dresser drawers. This finding was conveyed by Jeffrey D. Miller, MD, of Allergy and Asthma Associates, Dunbury, Connecticut. In his investigation, 56 plant oils were tested for their ability to kill dust mites in culture dishes and on clothing.

The vapors of the following oils were among those that were effective miticides:

* anise
* birch
* coriander
* eucalyptus
* lavender
* nutmeg
* pine
* spearmint
* ylang-ylang
* wintergreen

The amount of oil necessary to kill the dust mites was critical, however, with large areas requiring larger amounts. Wintergreen was especially effective in larger spaces, such as closets. Dr. Miller acknowledged, however, that the clinical efficacy and safety of the oils has not yet been established.


From a website no longer in existence:
Washing With Eucalyptus Oil Rids Bedding Of Asthma-Provoking Mites
(Reuters 11/05/1997)

Asthma Information Center

Reuters Health Information Services

Washing With Eucalyptus Oil Rids Bedding Of Asthma-Provoking Mites

WESTPORT, Nov 5 (Reuters) – Eucalyptus oil added to detergent kills almost all house dust mites during machine washing of blankets, report Australian researchers in the October issue of the Journal of Asthma and Clinical Immunology.

Dr. Euan R. Tovey, of the University of Sydney, and colleagues note that 95% of mite allergen can be removed from fabrics by cold or warm water laundering. However, most mites survive. Eradication would likely slow allergen build-up, but high temperatures or laboratory detergents are generally required for effective extermination.

The researchers compared live mite recovery from blankets washed in warm water containing dishwashing detergent, with or without eucalyptus oil. Four parts eucalyptus oil were emulsified with one part of a specific concentrated detergent. Only 0.6% of mites survived the eucalyptus treatment, whereas 97.6% were still alive after exposure to detergent alone.

By using readily-available eucalyptus oil, the team conclude, “…it is possible to make a simple, effective laundry acaricidal wash that eliminates the need for very hot water and that may maintain low allergen levels in bedding for longer than normal laundering alone.”

J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997;100:464-466.


Moth Repellant Sachets

* 3 tablespoons southernwood
* 2 tablespoons mugwort (handle with care)
* 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
* 1 tablespoon chamomile flowers
* 1 tablespoon thyme
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon orris root powder
* Oil of cloves, or lavender, or lemon oil

Crumble the dried herbs into a bowl. Add the spices, the salt, and the orris root. Store in a screw-topped jar, away from the light, for 2 weeks. Have the bags ready for filing, and shake enough oil on the herbs to scent them quite stronly. Fill the bags and stitch or tie the opening.

From The New Age Herbalist. Consultant editior Richard Mabbey.
Collier Books. 1988. page 161.

Melana Hiatt