From Antivist

Problematic Insects (pests) tend to invade planned gardens and bring ruin to carefully tended produce. The most ideal solution is biological, through either companion planting or introducing beneficial insects that prey on pests. One such example is introducing ladybugs to feed on an aphid problem.


Pest Sprays

Garlic Water: Mix two tablespoons of garlic juice, one ounce of diatomaceous earth, one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and four quarts of water. This can be frozen.

Pepper Water: Blend three very hot peppers, 1/2 onion and garlic clove in water. Boil the mixture, steep for two days, and strain. This is good for indoor plants too, and it can be frozen.

Soap: Use two tablespoons of pure liquid soap or 50 grams of pure dry soap per quart of water.

Tobacco Water: Let a large handful of tobacco stand in four quarts of warm water for 24 hours; dilute and spray (poisonous to humans).

Biological Solutions

Once you have made the decision to utilize beneficial insects to help you with your pest control in your garden, keep in mind that insecticides are no longer an appropriate option. Pesticides will kill good bugs at the same time they are removing the pests.

Pest Insect Predator Insect
Aphids Aphidius
Aphids Aphidoletes
Thrips, spidermites, fungus gnats Beneficial mites
Eggs of many pest insects Damsel bugs (Nabidae)
Whiteflies, aphids, thrip, spider mites Dicyphus
Slugs, small caterpillars and grubs Ground beetles
Grubs Spring Tiphia wasp
Aphids, mealybugs and others Hoverflies
Scale, aphids, mites, soft-bodied insects Lacewings
Aphids, mites Ladybugs
Thrips, aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies Pirate bugs
Caterpillars; beetle and fly larvae Tachinid flies
Whiteflies; moth, beetle and fly larvae Parasitic wasps
and in particular their larvae which are active between May and July in the northern hemisphere, are voracious predators of aphids such as greenfly and blackfly, and will also consume mites, scale insects and small caterpillars. The ladybug is a very familiar beetle with various colored markings, whilst its larvae are initially small and spidery, growing up to 17 mm long. The larvae a tapering segmented grey/black body with orange/yellow markings nettles in the garden and by leaving hollow stems and some plant debris over-winter so that they can hibernate over winter.
Resembling slightly darker bees or wasps, they have characteristic hovering, darting flight patterns. There are over 100 species of hoverfly whose larvae principally feed upon greenfly, one larva devouring up to fifty a day, or 1000 in its lifetime. They also eat fruit tree spider mites and small caterpillars. Adults feed on nectar and pollen, which they require for egg production. Eggs are minute (1 mm), pale yellow white and laid singly near greenfly colonies. Larvae are 8-17 mm long, disguised to resemble bird droppings, they are legless and have no distinct head. Semi-transparent in a range of colours from green, white, brown and black.

Hoverflies can be encouraged by growing attractant flowers such as the poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii), marigolds or phacelia throughout the growing season.

are important predators of mosquitoes, both in the water, where the dragonfly naiads eat mosquito larvae, and in the air, where adult dragonflies capture and eat adult mosquitoes. Community-wide mosquito control programs that spray adult mosquitoes also kill dragonflies, thus removing an important biocontrol agent, and can actually increase mosquito populations in the long term.

Other useful garden predators include lacewings, pirate bugs, rove and ground beetles, aphid midge, centipedes, predatory mites, as well as larger fauna such as frogs, toads, lizards, hedgehogs, slow-worms and birds. Cats and rat terriers kill field mice, rats, june bugs, and birds. Dogs chase away many types of pest animals. Dachshunds are bred specifically to fit inside tunnels underground to kill gophers and rabbits.


Many people put up bat houses to attract bats just as many people put up bird houses. Reasons for this vary, but mostly center around the fact that bats are the primary nocturnal insectivores in most if not all ecologies.

Bat houses can be made from scratch, made from kits, or bought ready made. Plans for bat houses exist on many web sites, as well as guidelines for designing your own bat house.

barn owls

Barn owls will NOT reduce a rodent problem to zero. However they can make a dramatic difference in an area with an extreme rodent problem and keep it under control. In a mature vineyard, gophers can be reduced to a tolerable level without the use of baiting.

Put nest boxes up wherever it is convenient for you. They can go in trees, on posts out in the field, on the wall of a building. Each site has positive and negative points. In trees, the owls will receive some protection from the elements, but the young will be exposed to predators. On a post, the young will be protected from most predators, but the box may get hot during a heat wave. On a building, whatever is below the box will probably get splattered with fecal matter.

Don't put nest boxes above locations where vehicles or equipment is parked.

Don't put nest boxes in Great Horned Owl habitat, that is, in heavily wooded, riparian regions. Great horns are the largest predator of the barn owl.

Don't put nest boxes in the middle of your worst gopher-infested area. Owls prefer not to hunt in the area of their nest box so as not to attract the attention of potential predators. Multiple nest boxes in this vicinity will solve this problem because the hunting areas of the different nesting pairs will overlap.

Your goal should be to attract as many nesting pairs of barn owls as your rodent population can support. Remember that it is nesting pairs that you want to attract. Each adult will eat one rodent a night, but each chick will eat up to four or five, depending on the size of the chick and the size of the rodent.

Six boxes across fifty acres is a good start. Figure you have enough nest boxes when 20 to 30% are not being used at any time during the year.

In late June, clean the boxes out after the young have left.

In November check the inside of the box for wasps. Spray them using a pyrethrin-based insecticide and take down the nest. Remove any other unwanted debris.

Don't bother the nesting hen between the beginning of February and the end of March.

In general, leave the nest boxes alone.

Plants To Regulate Insect Pests

Choosing a diverse range of plants for the garden can help to regulate pests in a variety of ways, including;

  • Masking the crop plants from pests, depending on the proximity of the companion or intercrop.
  • Producing olfactory inhibitors, odors that confuse and deter pests.
  • Acting as trap plants by providing an alluring food that entices pests away from crops.
  • Serving as nursery plants, providing breeding grounds for beneficial insects.
  • Providing an alternative habitat, usually in a form of a shelterbelt, hedgerow, or beetle bank where beneficial insects can live and reproduce. Nectar-rich plants that bloom for long periods are especially good, as many beneficials are nectivorous during the adult stage, but parasitic or predatory as larvae. A good example of this is the soldier beetle which is frequently found on flowers as an adult, but whose larvae eat aphids, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs, and other beetles.

The following are plants often used in vegetable gardens to deter insects [1]

  • Basil â�� Repels flies and mosquitoes.
  • Catnip â�� Deters flea beetle.
  • Garlic â�� Deters Japanese beetle.
  • Horseradish â�� Deters potato bugs.
  • Marigold â�� The workhorse of pest deterrents. Discourages Mexian bean beetles, nematodes and others.
  • Mint â�� Deters white cabbage moth, ants.
  • Nasturtium â�� Deters aphids, squash bugs and striped pumpkin beetles.
  • Pot Marigold â�� Deters asparagus beetles, tomato worm, and general garden pests.
  • Peppermint â�� Repels the white cabbage butterfly.
  • Rosemary â�� Deters cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly.
  • Sage â�� Deters cabbage moth and carrot fly.
  • Southernwood â�� Deters cabbage moth.
  • Summer Savory â�� Deters bean beetles.
  • Tansy â�� Deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs and ants.
  • Thyme â�� Deters cabbage worm.
  • Wormwood â�� Deters animals from garden.

Garden Remedies

Plant Insect Spray
Blend 6 cloves crushed garlic, 1 minced onion, 1tbs. dried hot pepper and 1 tbs. pure soap in 1 gal. hot water. Let sit 1-2 days; strain & spray on plants.
Doc Bronner's Insect Spray
Combine roughly 1/4 tsp of Doc Bronner's liquid soap with a quart of water (fill up a large spray bottle). Use the peppermint soap for extra aphid fighting power.
Bug Bouncer
Bounce those bugs right out of your garden with a long-handled spatula or spoon. Go outside early in the morning with your beetle bouncer and a bucket of warm, soapy water. Look for infestations on roses, peonies, and other favorites. Hold the bucket below the bloom and gently whack the flower. The bugs will drop straight down and into your suds. Reuse the soapy water as a spray.
Funnel Away Beetles and Bugs
Arm yourself with a large funnel (or make one by cutting off the bottom of a plastic bottle) and attack cucumber and Japanese beetles and squash bugs early in the morning. Tie a bag to the narrow end of the funnel. Slip the wide mouth of the funnel beneath the infested foliage and shake the plant or blossom. The insects will slide down and into the bag. When finished, tie bag closed and drop it into a trash can.
Simple Earwig Traps
Pour equal parts canola oil and soy sauce into a shallow container and place in infested areas. Each morning arm yourself with a bucket of soapy water, check the lures, and dispose of the victims.
Bug Off
Suck pests off your plants and out of the air with a small, hand-held vacuum or a canister vacuum with a tube attachment. Hold the vacuum about 1 inch away from the leaves and pass it back and forth quickly above the pests. Empty the contents of the vacuum into a bucket of hot, soapy water.
Weed-Free Solutions
Attack broad-leafed weeds with a directed stream of vinegar. You may substitute vinegar with equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol (70 percent solution), but be careful not to spray any treasured plants. This works well for areas in stone or brick patios where you don't want grass or weeds. Drench the leaves with liquid. Cover nearby plants with newspaper to protect them from overspray.
The Tea Ceremony
Add leftover tea (or used tea bags) to your watering can. Chamomile tea is antibacterial and fungicidal and will aid plants suffering from fungus and mildew. Use this tea as a foliar spray and on tender seedlings to prevent damping-off. Sprinkle black or green leftover tea on acid-loving indoor plants such as azaleas, gardenias, and camellias.
Japanese Beetle Dance
These beautiful but devastating pests need no introduction. Get rid of them! Invest in the most important and lethal pair of sandals you'll ever own. They're called Lawn Aerator Sandals, and they're one of the best ways to destroy the grubs before they become beetles. After a rain when the grubs surface, slip on a pair of the sandals and dance wildly on your wet lawn.

Spraying Tips

  • Test homemade sprays on a small portion of the plant before applying it to the entire surface. Monitor the plant's response for a couple of days to check for burning.
  • Always use soap (never detergent) so as not to burn plants.
  • Prevent sunburned leaves by applying sprays early in the morning, and never when the temperature is above 85 degrees.
  • Wear rubber gloves when using any sprays containing peppers, alcohol, citrus concentrates, mint oils, or anything else that could irritate your skin. And when spraying outdoors in breezy conditions, wear eye and nose protection.
  • Thoroughly examine your plants before applying sprays to make sure that you aren't spraying any spiders or beetles that might be your allies in the fight against pests.


Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes�slimy little aphids, fuzzy caterpillars, furry rabbits, the neighbor�s cat, maybe even the neighbors themselves. Most gardeners can tolerate minor pest damage. But when garden pests cause problems, there are safe and effective ways to stop them from harming your garden.

Using Herbs As Companion Plants to Deter Pests

Insect Pest Companion Herb
Aphids Chives, Coriander, Nasturtium
Ants Tansy
Asparagus Beetle Pot Marigold
Bean Beetle Marigold, Nasturtium, Rosemary
Cabbage Moth Hyssop, Mint (also clothes moths), Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Southernwood, Tansy, Thyme
Carrot Fly Rosemary, Sage
Flea Beetle Catmint (Contains nepetalactone, an insect repellent. Steep in water and spray on plants.), Mint
Flies Basil, Rue
Fruit Tree Moths Southernwood
Japanese Beetles Garlic & Rue (When used near roses and raspberries), Tansy
Potato Bugs Horseradish
Mosquitoes Basil, Rosemary
Moths Santolina
Nematodes Marigold (Marigolds should be established for at least 1 year before their nematode deterring properties will take effect.)
Savory, Winter Some insect repelling qualities
Squash Bugs & Beetles Nasturtium, Tansy
Ticks Lavender (Also thought to repel mice and moths.)
Tomato Horn Worm Borage, Pot Marigold


Prevention is the key to controlling garden pests. The healthier your garden is, the better it will be able to naturally resist invaders. There are many ways to encourage a healthy garden.

  • Keep your soil healthy. Healthy soil grows healthy plants. Build up your soil with organic material such as compost. Too much synthetic fertilizer can actually harm your soil by destroying beneficial microorganisms. Organic fertilizers help improve the texture and nutrient content of soil.
  • Donâ��t overfertilize. Too much fertilizer can promote excess growth, which attracts sap-sucking pests like aphids. Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly and will keep your plants growing at a nice steady pace.
  • Grow pest-resistant plants. Some plants are just prone to pest problems. Others are tough enough to resist them. Choose plants that are well adapted to your conditions. Native plants, for example, tend to be highly pest-resistant.
  • Grow a variety of plants. A healthy garden filled with a variety of plants is more resistant to significant pest damage. It will attract beneficial critters, such as dragonflies, ladybugs, and lacewings, which feed on pests.
  • Remove diseased plants. Insect pests are smart; theyâ��ll generally prey on weak and diseased plants. If certain plants are constantly under attack, you may want to sacrifice them for the good of the garden.

Controlling Insect Garden Pests

It�s important to recognize that not all insects are pests. Insects belong in your garden. Most of the bugs in your garden are beneficial. They help pollinate your plants, aid in breaking down organic material in the soil, and eat other bugs. But sometimes insect populations get out of hand and start doing serious damage to your plants.

When you encounter insect pests, resist the urge to reach for a chemical spray. Using a chemical pesticide can be counterproductive. Chemical pesticides, and even many natural sprays, kill good bugs along with the bad, further disrupting the natural balance in your garden. While spraying may kill the garden pests, it doesn�t address the underlying cause of the problem, and they will likely return.

Keep your plants healthy, so they are able to resist pests. If problems arise, you can take simple measures to control garden pests.

  • Attract natural predators. Most beneficial insects will appear in your garden if you provide a variety of plants and habitats. Some insect predators such as ladybugs can be imported into your garden.
  • Control physically by handpicking or with traps or barriers.
  • Botanical pesticides such as neem and pyrethrin, soaps, or oils may be used as a last resort.

Controlling Animal Pests

Prevention is also your best defense against animal pests. If possible, grow plants the critters don�t like to eat. Install fences or barriers around your plants. Many gardeners have luck with products such as blood meal or sprays made of hot pepper, garlic, and other foul-smelling ingredients. Hey, they might even work on those pesky neighbors.


  • Keep a small spray bottle handy, and spray the ants with a bit of soapy water.
  • Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants' point of entry. Many ants have a natural aversion to cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.
  • Leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active. Dry, crushed mint leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.
  • Trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.
  • Ants on the deck? Slip a few cut up cloves of garlic between the cracks.


The most important measure you can take is to remove standing water sources. Change birdbaths, wading pools and pet's water bowl twice a week. Keep your eavestroughs clean and well-draining. Remove yard items that collect water.

In a New England Journal of Medicine study, oil of eucalyptus at 30% concentration prevented mosquito bites for 120.1 minutes, while Bite Blocker with 2% soybean oil kept bites away for 96.4 minutes. (the eucalyptus oil must have a minimum of 70% cineole content, the active therapeutic ingredient.) Citronella, a common alternative to DEET, performed poorly, warding off bugs for only 20 minutes.

If you're using the barbeque, throw a bit of sage or rosemary on the coals to repel mosquitos.

An effective natural bug repellent can be made using garlic juice. Mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent lasting up to 5 - 6 hours. Strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in this mixture and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent.

Neem oil is a natural vegetable oil extracted from the Neem tree in India. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the Neem tree contain sallanin, a compound which has effective mosquito repelling properties. Neem oil is a natural product and is safe to use. Neem oil is also an excellent skin moisturizer and highly regarded for its wound healing properties. Look for new Neem Oil-based commercial products on the market. The website,, is one source.

Planting marigolds around your yard works as a natural bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects do not like.

Campers often report that the very best mosquito repellent is Avon Skin-So-Soft® bath oil mixed half and half with rubbing alcohol. Another recommended insect repellent is Vick's Vaporub®.

Thai lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a natural and effective mosquito repellent. It contains the natural oil, citronella, which is safe and effective; in fact, lemon grass citronella is considered more effective than true citronella as an insect repellent.

You can buy Thai lemon grass at garden centers and supermarkets, and it grows readily into a clump about 15" across and about 2ft tall. To use as a mosquito repellent, break a stalk off from the clump, peel off the outer leaves, until you find the scallion-like stem at the base. Bend the stem between your fingers, loosening it, then rub it vigorously between your palms - it will soon become a pulpy, juicy mass. Rub this over all exposed skin, covering thoroughly at least once. You can also make a tincture using alcohol, for spray applications. Plantings around the patio will also help repel mosquitoes.

Flies Use mint as a fly repellent. Small sachets of crushed mint can be placed around the home to discourage flies.

Bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus wrapped in small cheesecloth squares can be hung by open windows or doors.

Place a small, open container of sweet basil and clover near pet food or any open food in the house.

A few drops of eucalyptus oil on a scrap of absorbant cloth will deter flies. Leave in areas where flies are a problem.

You can make your own flypaper with this simple recipe: Mix 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tbsp. granulated sugar and 1 tbsp. brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut strips of brown kraft paper and soak in this mixture. Let dry overnight. To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with string or thread.

A plastic bag filled with water is an effective fly deterrent


Cedar chips in a cheesecloth square, or cedar oil in an absorbant cloth will repel moths. The cedar should be 'aromatic cedar', also referred to as juniper in some areas. Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made with lavender, rosemary, vetiver and rose petals. Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent - simply toss into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.


Diatomaceous earth is a safe and effective way to control earwigs in the home. One application in key spots (bathroom, baseboards, window frames) can be a long-term repellent. To trap earwigs, spray a newspaper lightly with water, roll it up loosely and secure with a string or rubber band. Place on the ground near earwig activity. The next morning pick up and discard the paper in a sealed container. Another method to trap earwigs is to take a shallow, straight-sided container and fill it half full with vegetable oil. Clean the trap daily; the oil can be re-used.


Silverfish prefer damp, warm conditions such as those found around kitchen and bathroom plumbing. Start by vacuuming the area to remove food particles and insect eggs. Silverfish can be easily trapped in small glass containers. Wrap the outside with tape so they can climb up and fall in. They will be trapped inside because they cannot climb smooth surfaces. Drown them in soapy water. The best preventive control is to remedy the damp conditions.

Common Garden Pests

Most gardeners have had more than a few run-ins with aphids. The tiny, pear-shaped, pests often appear in the spring and feast on your plants' tender new leaves. Aphids come in many colors including green, black, brown, red, and pink. Aphids often excrete a sweet, sticky substance as they suck sap from your plants.

Aphids may be found feeding on your vegetables, shrubs, flowers and trees. Healthy plants can tolerate a small number of aphids, but large numbers of aphids can wreak havoc. Aphids are notoriously resilient and plentiful, because they can reproduce very quickly. Plants that are under attack by a large number of aphids may show signs such as reduced growth, wilted leaves, drying branches, stunted needles, and curled foliage. Look for clusters of the little bugs.

There are many safe methods to combat aphids. Attract and protect aphid predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, assassin bugs, praying mantis, adult wasps, spiders and chickadees. Another method of controlling aphids is to knock them off the plant with a steady stream of water from a hose. You can also don gloves and rub or hand-pick aphids from affected plants. You may need to cut off and dispose of infested foliage. As a last resort, spray carefully with an insecticide such as insecticidal soap.
Caterpillars have voracious appetites and have been known to consume entire plants almost overnight. Try to identify caterpillars before killing them. Many are not considered pests and might be the larvae of important species of butterflies or moths. You can pluck caterpillar pests by hand; they can often be found on the undersides of leaves. If physical removal isn�t practical, a bacterial spray with Bacilus thuringiensis (Bt) will control caterpillars.
Colorado Potato Beetle
These beetles plague members of the potato family, including eggplant, tomato, peppers, and potatoes. Adult Colorado potato beetles are oval and about half the size of your thumbnail. They have red heads and black and yellow stripes down their back. Females lay clusters of bright orange oval eggs on the underside of leaves. Hand picking is the gardener's best defense against Colorado potato beetles. Knock any beetles and larvae you find into a can of soapy water to dispose of them. For major outbreaks, spray Bt San Diego while larvae are small. Try spreading a thick organic mulch over the garden to make it hard for emerging beetles to reach plants in the spring.
Cucumber Beetles
Cucumber beetles eat holes in the leaves and roots of corn, cucumbers, and other members of the squash family. They have oval bodies with yellow and black stripes or spots. To control, rotate crops each year. Applying a heavy layer of mulch around plants may help curb attacks. Attract predators such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps. If necessary, apply neem oil, a botanical pesticide, to the soil to kill larvae.
Cutworms are moth larvae that live in the soil and come out at night to feast on new seedlings. Plants are often cut off completely at or just below the soil surface. Create a barrier around new plants with a toilet paper roll or a collar cut from a plastic bottle. Place the collar around the plant and push into the soil to prevent the cutworm from attacking the stem. Birds such as bluejays, sparrows, blackbirds and wrens feed on cutworms. Attract birds by placing bird feeders close to infested areas. You can also purchase parasitic nematodes to eat cutworms in the soil.
Flea Beetles
Flea beetles are common garden pests of many vegetable crops. Flea beetles are quick jumpers and hard to catch. They damage plants by chewing small holes, called "shotholes" in the leaves. Injury is usually minor and easily outgrown on established plants; seedlings are most at risk. In your vegetable garden, start with transplants or try high seeding rates and thin the plants once they are established.
Leafhoppers are common garden pests. They damage plants by sucking, leaving behind curled leaf tips and edges that are crispy brown. Leafhoppers quickly move short distances when disturbed, giving them the appearance of hopping. In most cases leafhoppers do not require control. Spot treat with insecticidal soap. As a last resort, treat with a botanical insecticide such as pyrethrin.
The larvae of a small fly, leafminers live in and feed on leaves, leaving behind highly visible tunnels, or mines. Damage is mostly cosmetic. Remove by hand and destroy infested leaves. Mulch soil under plants to prevent leafminer larvae from reaching the soil to pupate. If necessary, neem oil is among the best defenses against leaf miners. Parasitic wasps in the garden will also take care of them.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails love to chew on leaves, particularly hosta and other plants growing in moist, shady locations. They leave behind large holes and a trail of slime. You can trap slugs and snails by sinking containers of beer into your garden near damaged plants. Or sprinkle diatomaceous earth around affected plants.


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