Coping with Bugs in the Home and Garden

Natural Remedies for Garden Pests

August 13, 2018
Ladybug Ladybug

a ladybug on my argyrathemum

Amy Vervoort

Midsummer is the time when insects make themselves most known—indoors and out. If you find unwanted creatures in your house or garden, don’t reach for the poisons. Cope with bugs with safer methods for your household environment.


It’s always as good idea to try to peacefully coexist with insects such as ants. But if they become a problem in your yard or garden, try these tips:

  • For only one or two hills, sprinkle instant grits on the anthill. When the ants take them to the nest, the queen and workers eat them, and the grains swell up and kill them. It will take about two days before all activity stops.
  • Or, make bands of crushed eggshells along walkways to keep them from crossing.

More Bug Tips

  • Aphids on your garden plants can be knocked off with frequent, strong streams of water from the garden hose. See more about controlling Aphids.
  • If you notice yellow-and-black-striped Colorado potato beetles or the metallic-blue-green Japanese beetles crawling on your plants, put down a dropcloth and, in the early morning when they’re most active, shake them off and dump them into a bucket of soapy water.
  • If a colony of yellow jackets sets up housekeeping in your lawn, watch them from a distance to find their underground doorway. At night, when they’re not active, place a large glass casserole dish or salad bowl over the hole and weight it down with a brick. The wasps will be forced to exit elsewhere and usually won’t return.
  • Herbs can be used for pest control. Wormwood, yarrow, santolina, tansy, mint, and lavender are traditional moth repellents. Oil of rosemary also can be effective.
  • If it’s your pet that’s bothered, try putting a drop of lemon oil on his collar for flea control.

See more on staying ahead of garden pests.

Do you have any tips on dealing with pests in the home and garden? Please share below!

Reader Comments

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I have worms eating all of my

I have worms eating all of my herbs! I've been spraying dish soap with water, but every morning I go out and find more green worms to pull off and my herbs almost all gone from being eaten! Help!

You will need to handpick the

The Editors's picture

You will need to handpick the caterpillars daily. If this is not appealing, you could spray with Neem Oil  as an organic option. Or, ask your garden store about B.t. which is sold as Dipel, Thuricide, and several other brand names. Spinosad is another option for controlling caterpillars organically.

i have had bouts of bed bug

i have had bouts of bed bug and cockroach cohabitants for the past few years living in urban rental apartments .. at times i have been overwhelmed and had to endure countless fumigations with pesticides from store-bought to landlord professional routine services ... all to no avail ...however, i have found a bizarre home remedy that surprised me as much as it surprised the colonies that hatch ... isopropyl alcohol ... in a spray bottle .. kills them dead and it is quasi healthy ... to inhale as fumes .. compared to pesticides ... i dunno how i figured this out but nonetheless ... upon contact with a splash of rubbing alcohol, the bed bug immediately goes into rigor mortis ... and with the rare cockroaches .. they seem to scurry not to far from the contact of the spray .. and then go into their rigor mortis ... it is baffling ... because if rubbing alcohol is good for wounds and infections ... could these vermin be an extension of infections that nest alongside of us like fleas ? .. i don't have a kitten or puppy so for flea removal .. i am not too sure if the rubbing alcohol trick works for fleas ... i am scared to post this comment because i fear the pesticide people over on wall street may hunt me down for providing a more economical route to killing these kinda pests with vapours .. and that isn't so stinky .. or bad for inhaling

If you have ants and don't

If you have ants and don't want to use a spray you can distract them with old melon rinds. place them a couple feet away from your veggies and the ants will flock. just pick up the rind full of ants and toss it. Whenever I cut a melon, I freeze the rind for this reason and when I need a new one I grab it from the freezer and set it outside. The same tactic works for pill bugs but use dry dog food instead of rinds.

Last night I had an invasion

Last night I had an invasion of tiny sugar ants on my sink. There must have been something sweet under the metal rim. There were hundreds of them lined up like cows at a feed trough. I sprinkled crushed bay leaf along the line of ants and the cracks around the sink. Within 15 minutes the ants were GONE!

Baking soda kills indoor

Baking soda kills indoor pesky bugs! Everything from spiders, centipedes, roll-poly bus. It will kill mice too. Spread it on floors. Sweep in into corners and crevices. The pests track in on their legs and it kills them. It's cheap, effective and environmentally friendly.

What about squash bugs and

What about squash bugs and fire ants. And what's the attraction fire ants have for okra??? They eat our baby pods.

Fireants eat other insects

The Editors's picture

Fireants eat other insects and also plants. Their favorite plants are: eggplant, okra, cabbage and broccoli, but they'll eat anything. Here's a good link with treatment options:

A lot of lady bugs means

A lot of lady bugs means there is a lot of food, meaning aphids!

What a wonderful idea, I will

What a wonderful idea, I will try that. My nephew also suggests using expandable foam insulation in the entrance to the nest, also do this at night when they are less active. Remember not to use a light around the nest entrance at night, the yellow jackets will attact as if it is daytime.

I found that pouring an

I found that pouring an entire bottle of PineSol down a yellow jacket nest solves the problem. Do this at night when they are not active.

I live in Oklahoma. This is

I live in Oklahoma. This is my first year with a vegetable garden of my own, so I started small, but I have a small row of potatoes. I have not seen any bugs, but there are wholes in the leafs and some of the plants are wilting and dying. I am not sure what to do. Any help here would be awesome. Thank you.

If it weren't for the holes,

The Editors's picture

If it weren't for the holes, we'd say that wilted leaves are related to under- or over-watering. However, holes suggest insect pests. Are the holes large or very small? If your leaves look riddled with tiny holes, it's the tiny potato flea beetle. They chew holes in leaves and then the leaves will quickly wilt and die. We suggest that you bring a sample to a local nursery to get diagnosed! If it's the flea, they can give you an insecticide to apply.

Ant hills: Don't get rid of

Ant hills: Don't get rid of used coffee grounds! Instead, pour them on top of ant hills in your yard. Ants hate coffee grounds!

coffee grounds

I have tried this......does not work

I use lavender oil to keep

I use lavender oil to keep the spiders away. I bought a small bottle at the local herb store and I mix a few drops into water in a spray bottle and spray the base of my house inside and out to keep them out of the basement.

What does it mean when lady

What does it mean when lady bugs are everywhere?