Pest Control

by Donna Easto, C.H., H.C., M.H.,
Certified Herbal Educator

You’ve done it all — blocked the cracks, took away their food source, put up screens and kept your plants and pets healthy and bug-free. But still there they are, crawling across the ceiling, in the sugar bowl, and creeping up your rose bushes. Pesticides are out, they can remain airborne for days, weeks and sometimes years being inhaled and absorbed by human and animals, such as ladybugs, alike.


Sprinkle chili powder and, or, dried mint around to deter ants. This mixture of Borax and sugar, placed where you see the little critters marching will stop them in their tracks. Add ½ cup sugar to 1 cup of very warm water and stir in 2 tablespoons of Borax. We may love our coffee but ants hate it! Spread the recycled grounds in the area the ants seem to be entering your home or congregating outside. For ants, coffee grounds can be fatal.


Simply chop banana peels and place the bits just under the soil line around the stem of the plant. Plus, it adds some nutrients to the soil. Aphids like to hang out on the underside of leaves. Placing foil around the base of your plants will reflect light onto the aphids, which they don’t like. Just be careful. Too much strong sunlight reflected upwards might scorch the plant leaves.

Tick Spray Recipe

(not for children, dogs, cats or other animals, avoid if pregnant)

  • 1ml Citronella essential oil
  • 2ml Lemongrass essential oil
  • 1ml Thyme essential oil
  • 1ml Sage essential oil

Combine the above essential oils in a 5ml bottle and invert to blend. Put 10 drops into a 60ml bottle and add a teaspoon of white alcohol. Shake well and add water. Shake again and spray pant legs with blend before heading out into the woods for a walk during tick season.

Fruit Fly Trap

You’ll need a bottle with a small top so that flies can get in but not out. Fill bottom of the bottle with apple cider vinegar or vinegar and chopped apple pieces to attract fruit loving flies.

Insect Repellent Herbal Vinegar

To 2 cups of apple cider vinegar add 2 cups of fresh insect repellent herb, choose from catnip, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lemon balm, lemon eucalyptus, lavender, lemon thyme, or mountain mint used alone or in combination.

Hot Pepper Insect Repellent Spray

Mix 1 gallon of water to 3 tablespoons of hot pepper flakes or 10 cayenne peppers chopped finely. Simmer in a pot for 15 minutes and let it steep for 24 hours before straining. Adding a couple of drops of dish soap to the spray bottle will help the solution adhere to plants.

Bob Vila’s Deer Repellent

  • Garden sprayer (or large spray bottle)
  • Warm water (1 gallon)
  • Eggs (3)
  • Milk or yogurt (3 tablespoons)
  • Crushed garlic cloves (3)
  • Cayenne pepper (3 tablespoons)
  • Blender
  • Strainer

Step 1: Blend all ingredients.

Put eggs, milk or yogurt, garlic, and cayenne pepper along with two to three cups of water into a blender, and puree thoroughly. Strain that mixture into a gallon jug, add the remaining water and seal.

Step 2: “Ripen” the mixture.

While the homemade deer repellent can be used immediately, it will be more potent if left to ripen at room temperature for 24 hours. Yes, it will be stinky!

Spray plants liberally after morning dew or any rainfall has fully dried. Make sure to spray the entire plant, leaves, stems, fruits, and all. Don’t worry, it won’t harm your foliage, just make it smell and taste bad to foraging deer. Milk products contain a sticky protein called casein to help the homemade deer repellent cling. Once dry, the odor will be undetectable to humans but still unpleasant to ruminants. And should any stubborn invaders go beyond a sniff to a taste, that cayenne pepper will deliver a burning warning sure to turn them off!

Step 3: Store it properly.

The sticky homemade deer repellent could clog your spray dispenser, so after dosing your garden, pour any remaining mixture back into the jug for storage in the garage or a cabinet. As the eggs and milk continue to rot, it will get even more potent!

Gardener’s Foot Powder

Garden boots are wonderful but they can encourage foot fungus. To avoid, dust this easy powder on your feet after bathing and before you put on your boots or shoes: to ¼ cup cornstarch and ¼ cup baking soda add 10 drops each of lavender and tea tree oil.