Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Natural Way To Beat Bugs

In the middle of summer you are likely enjoying warm weather, picnics, swimming, camping trips and outdoor get-togethers, all the things that make summer so special.  But there is one thing that can get in the way of your summer enjoyment...insects!  
Spider bearing eggs
 Whether it's mosquitos at the lake picnic or ants invading your home, problems with insects can be very frustrating! They get in your garden and eat up your leaves, infest your happy little plants and make them sick and frail; they get into your home and onto your pets and can make you crazy, yet you don't want to fill your garden or your home with toxic chemicals and forget about even trying those kind of products for your suffering pets!  Happily, there is a insect control!  You can rid yourself of the pests without causing damage to your garden or your home and without any threats to your family's health and well-being.

I have gathered some easy-to-make home remedies for some of your insect problems.  I found these remedies in the book "The Pleasure Of Herbs" which was written byPhyllis Shaudys and was published in 1986.  This book is full of herbal projects, some of which I have tried (with success) and many I have not.  I am happy to bring to you some of the solutions we have had luck with in our own garden and home.  I hope you will find them as helpful as we do!

1.  Chive Spray (especially good for Roses) - Take a large amount of Chives, Onion or Garlic Chives will both work, and whirl them in your blender or Vita-Mix with water just covering the plants, Let it sit overnight and strain through a cheesecloth the following day.  After straining the material add 3 x as much water as you blend again.  Pour the resulting liquid in a spray bottle and spray your plants and flowers 3 or 4 x in one day and then again on a day following rain.  Store the excess spray in the refrigerator.  This works very well on my miniature Roses.

 2.  White Fly and Mealy Bug Spray - This one is fun to make with very strange ingredients!  First bring one quart of water to a boil and then add 4 cigarettes (minus the filter paper), 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tbsp. ammonia and 2 tbsp. of Ivory soap flakes.  Steep for 3 days and then strain.  Spray on garden and house plants, culinary and all herbs.  Be sure to wait one day after spraying to harvest and eat or use your garden veggies or herbs, making sure to rinse well in water before using or consuming.  I have used this with 100% success on my houseplants.  I used to struggle with White Fly until I found this recipe;  I haven't seen one in my home in years.

3.  Grasshopper and Garden Bug Repellant - This is an easy remedy to make if you are growing Tomatoes or have access to Tomato Leaves, perhaps from a friend or neighbor's garden.  Simply boil the leaves in a big pot for about 10 minutes, strain the liquid through a

Caterpillar, a garden pest and problem!

cheesecloth and spray on your culinary herbs and garden plants. This spray will save your Dill Basil, Sage and Thyme from Caterpillars
Grasshoppers...a garden's enemy!

 and Grasshoppers who love and devour these plants given the opportunity.  They are a dreadful pests and should be dealt with right away!

4.  Spray for Mold, Mildew and Fungi Disease - A spray made from the tea of Onions, Garlic and Chamomile

Onions and Garlic, great for us but
bad for Mildew and Fungus!
Chamomile, a calming herb that will
also fight your Mold and Fungus!

can help to eradicate an acute fungal disease as well as prevent fungi in healthy plants.  To make the spray you must first gather and dry the root of Chamomile and the Onions and Garlic.  When dry, make a strong decoction by bringing the ingredients to a boil and then allowing them to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Strain and add to a gallon of water.  Shake well and add 1 tbsp. of liquid soap or a mild detergent and stir gently.  You should use this immediately as it does not store well.

5.  A simple Ant deterrent - Rub oil of Spearmint around sink pipes and other ant entrances.  They hate the smell and will avoid going near it.  The best part about this remedy is that to us, Spearmint oil smells great and freshens any room in your house!

So now we've taken care of your garden but what about your poor pets?  They suffer from insects as much as we do but they are at our mercy for relief.  Won't you help them?

Here are some helpful ways to rid your pets of fleas, ticks and other household insects.  The first rule of thumb is to bathe your dog every week or two with an herbal bath rinse which can be made by simmering 2 cups of fresh Peppermint or Pennyroyal in a quart of boiling water for about 30 minutes.  Double the recipe for a large dog, such as the one pictured above.  Add the infusion to bathwater and rinse the dog well being careful not to get into the dog's face, nose and eyes.

1.  Rosemary Flea Rinse and Spray - Steep 1 tsp. of Rosemary for each cup of boiling water.  Cool and use as an after-bath rinse and as a spray in between bathings.  Allow pet to dry naturallly and use for several days for severe problems.

2.  Tick Removal - Moisten a cotton pad with oil of Eucalyptus, Pennyroyal or Peppermint and rub on the ticks.  This will stun them,
making removal much easier, which will be less stressful for both you and your pet.

3.  Natural Pet Flea Collar - Blend together dried Pennyroyal leaves, Orris Root and oil of Pennyroyal.  Wrap in fabric and secure with velcro or some other stretchable material such as elastic.  A cord soaked in Pennyroyal every 2 weeks and wrapped inside the fabric is even more effective.  This pet collar is very effective and will not introduce poisons into your pet's system as normal flea collars do.  However, Pennyroyal oil is toxic if ingested and must not be consumed internally.  Ingestion of Pennyroyal oil has been known to kill animals and adults.  Please be careful when using!

Note:  None of the above remedies will rid your home of a flea infestation.  Use these remedies BEFORE you get fleas or AFTER you've gotten rid of them to help keep your pet flea-free naturally.

Okay, we've got the pets covered.  Now we'll discuss how to rid your home and car of insects too!

1.  Easy Bug Repellent Lotion - Whenever you will be oustide in the garden or at a BBQ you will probably want to deter pests without using harsh chemicals and poisons.  The answer is easy...make your own insect repellent lotion that absorbs quickly into the skin and smells a lot better than OFF!  Start with an Almond Oil or Rubbing Alchohol base and add essential oils of Citronella, Pennyroyal, Peppermint and Eucalyptus.  Rub into your skin, avoiding the eyes, for hours of insect relief.  And, you'll smell pretty!

2.  Carpet Freshener that repels fleas - Blend thoroughly 1/2 cup each of Baking Soda and Cornstarch, adding 15-30 drops of a favorite essential oil, such as Lavender, Peppermint, Pine, Roses, and allow to dry.  Place in an empty powder container or make one by poking holes in the lid of an empty tupperware container.  Sprinkle the powder on your rugs and carpets and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes, then vacuum. To repel fleas, add oils of Rosemary, Citronella and Pennyroyal to the mixture.  This keeps your car insect free and smelling great too...just sprinkle on the carpets and upholstery of your vehicle for a sweet-smelling bug-free ride!

3.  Easiest Fly Repellent in the World - Simply hang Basil plants in bunches around doorways and in the kitchen to keep flys at bay.  They, like many insects, really hate the smell of Basil.  So grow lots of it and put it to use besides just in your spaghetti sauce!

Now you've got an arsenal of natural pest deterrents.  I hope you'll use them instead of toxic chemicals and that you'll share these ideas with your friends and neighbors!  What natural insect and garden remedies have you tried that work well?  Please share your tips with us!  Leave a comment or email me at and I will post them for you!

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