Spending more time outdoors is an upside that comes with the warm weather. However, summer bugs and insects make picnics, BBQs, and afternoon walks less enjoyable. Plus, they can make their way into your home. Thankfully, these effective, natural, and easy-to-use solutions ensure you’re safe from pesky pests — both indoors and out!
Try this oil to nix mosquitoes in the yard.
One of best mosquito deterrents is oil of lemon-eucalyptus (OLE). “Not to be confused with lemon-eucalyptus essential oil, which isn’t as effective, OLE contains a compound that wards off mosquitoes,” says entomologist Nancy Troyano, PhD. In fact, one study shows OLE-based repellent provides 95 percent protection against the little buggers for up to three hours. One repellent to try: Cutter DEET-Free Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent.
Also smart: Consider planting lemongrass — the easy-to-grow herb where citronella oil comes from — next to some spearmint. The combined scents are twice as effective at warding off mosquitoes as a citronella candle.
Use mint to trap fruit flies in the house.
These tiny pests are drawn to the bowls of fruit on our kitchen counters. But there’s no need to lock away your food! “Flies hate the scent of peppermint oil, which contains the compounds menthol and terpene, natural ‘fumigants’ that repel them,” says entomologist Shannon Harlow-Ellis (MosquitoJoe.com). You can make your own repellent by combining 5 to 10 drops of peppermint oil per ounce of water in a spray bottle. Then spritz the perimeter of your kitchen weekly.
Also smart: Pour apple cider vinegar into a glass (about an inch deep), add a few drops of dish soap, then cover with plastic wrap and poke it with a few holes. The cider will attract flies and the mix will drown them.
Look to cedar to repel ticks at the park.
About 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the US each year, and the top culprit behind its spread is ticks. Luckily, nature has provided a solution: cedar oil. “It’s a very effective tick deterrent, and it’s safe for humans and pets,” says Alexis Chesney, ND, author of Preventing Lyme. In one study, cedar oil repelled 94 percent of deer ticks. Chesney’s recipe for a DIY spray: In a 10-oz. spray bottle, mix 6 ounces of water, 2 ounces of vodka and 2 ounces of cedar oil. Shake well; apply every two hours while out.
Also smart: Spritz your lower limbs, as ticks don’t jump, they climb up the body. And check under your watch, waistband, and bra straps — constrictive spots where ticks tend to get stuck.
Bonus Tip: Attract helpful bugs to your garden.
- Invite bees with a drink station: The buzzing pollinators ensure your garden thrives. To entice them, mix equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves, then place in a shallow dish near flowers. And don’t worry about being harassed — the bees will be too busy with the flowers to focus on you!
- Lure ladybugs with herbs: These garden beauties are especially fond of flowering herbs, such as chives, dill, and cilantro, which provide a nice, flat blossom for them to rest on. And while they’re there, they’ll snack on rose-ruining aphids!
- Draw dragonflies with stones: The peaceful drifters eat pests like mosquitoes and gnats. One thing guaranteed to coax them is a rock garden of flat stones on which they can “sunbathe.” Just place the rocks near a birdbath, water feature or pond, and you’ll have created a dragonfly heaven.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.