Flowers and Garden Home Many such remedies and folklore lack sufficient scientific research to determine the efficacy of such practices.  
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Browse Articles: Insects and Pests
Home Remedies, Holistic Approach, Repellent Plants
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Reference: Ohio State University Extension

There is a growing concern for the use of alternate methods (holistic approach) to pest control by reducing the use of pesticides. Many are interested in "home remedies" handed down from generation to generation long before many of our present modern pesticides became available. However, many such remedies and folklore lack sufficient scientific research to determine the efficacy of such practices. Nevertheless, it is believed worthwhile to assemble such a list for one's interest and historical value. Following is such a list of "home remedies" often learned from our parents and grandparents. (No endorsement is intended nor liability assumed since most of these home remedies are not labeled commercially as pest control recommendations.)

  1. Drill holes in the centers of small bars of soap (such as those found in hotels), hang four to five in each tree on "S" hooks of wire to repel deer.

  2. Place Dial soap in a drawstring tobacco pouch and hang in fruit trees and Christmas trees to deter deer.

  3. Hang human hair in a sack for deer repellent (one ounce of bagged human hair hung in each orchard tree or in perimeter trees will repel deer).

  4. Keep ants from crawling up a picnic table by standing each leg in a small pan of water.

  5. To kill ants, use a paste of equal parts of borax and confectioner sugar.

  6. Mix peanut butter (six parts), brown sugar (one part), one-half teaspoon salt with boric acid (one part) for Pharaoh Ant control.

  7. Mix mint apple jelly and boric acid for Pharaoh Ant control (two tablespoons boric acid powder per 10 ounces of mint apple jelly).

  8. Mix three cups water, one cup sugar and four teaspoons boric acid powder for ant control. (Pour a over a cotton wad in a small dish or bottle cap.)

  9. Apply slices of Osage oranges (hedge apples, horse apples or Bois d'arc apples) of Maclura pomifera to repel cockroaches.

  10. Sliced or crushed cucumbers to keep cockroaches away from food.

  11. Mix equal parts of boric acid powder, powdered sugar, and cornmeal as a poison bait for cockroaches.

  12. Mix equal parts of plaster of Paris and powdered sugar as a poison bait for cockroaches.

  13. A nail spike beside a tomato plant repels cutworms.

  14. Place a milk carton over young tomato plants to keep out cutworms. (Set vertical carton collars at least two inches above and two inches into soil.)

  15. Place cornmeal around tomato plants for cutworm control.

  16. Wrap tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants with a four inch by four inch aluminum foil strip to prevent cutworm damage and soilborne blight organisms (wrap stem area between roots and leaves; place two inches of foil wrapped stem below soil and two inches above soil.)

  17. Walk through a room wearing white socks to detect fleas. Dark fleas jumping on the white background are easily seen.

  18. Use fleabane daisy to repel fleas.

  19. Use banana peels to repel fleas.

  20. Feed yeast to dogs to repel fleas.

  21. Suspend a light bulb over a pan of oil or soapy water to attract and drown fleas during the night.

  22. Rub jewel weed on mosquito bites and poison ivy to control itch.

  23. Use Avon's Skin-So-Soft as an insect repellent for people and pets (good mosquito repellent). It helps relieve itching caused by insect bites and dry skin. Also, mix five parts water, one part Skin-So-Soft and mist on show animals. Brush in to make their coats gleam and keep insects off so your animal won't fidget.

  24. Use hedge apples for control of crickets and spiders.

  25. For grass and weeds growing between stones or bricks on walks or terraces, sprinkle 20 Mule Team borax powder and sweep into cracks (one application every other year).

  26. Apply tobacco and snuff juice for wasp stings and bites.

  27. Apply Adolph's Meat Tenderizer in a poultice, baking soda, ammonia or ice for bee stings.

  28. Spray insect stings with "Fantastik."

  29. Erect a chicken fence to keep rabbits out of home vegetable gardens.

  30. Apply finely ground cayenne peppers sprinkled on moistened vegetable leaves to repel rabbits.

  31. Use plastic or heavy cardboard tree wrap around tree trunks to prevent rabbit feeding damage.

  32. Use wood ash for slug control.

  33. Use beer or yeast dissolved in water in pit fall traps (cups sunk into the ground) to attract and drown snails and slugs.

  34. Use Juicy Fruit gum in mole runs for control.

  35. Use chocolate flavored Ex-lax to control chipmunks, moles, etc.

  36. Apply paradichlorobenzene (PDB) crystals to the soil in autumn in a band surrounding the peach tree trunk to control borers.

  37. Install an electric fence to keep raccoons out of the sweet corn patch.

  38. Use alcohol on a cotton ball with a toothpick or commercial "Q" swab stick for mealybug control.

  39. Spray aphids with garlic.

  40. Spread tin foil spread around the base of plants to repel aphids.

  41. Spray Ivory soapy water for plant scale, aphid and spider mite control.

  42. Put bay leaves put into stored beans, peas and flour meal to repel pantry pests.

  43. Plant marigolds around other plants throughout the garden to repel nematodes. (The African Marigold, Tagetes erecta is effective.)

  44. Place pans of apple cider vinegar on the periphery of the picnic area the night before to attract and drown picnic beetles. Place an upright bottle in the middle of the pan to assist beetles falling into the vinegar.

  45. Tick and Fly Spray--two cups white vinegar, one cup Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil, one cup water, one tablespoon eucalyptus oil (available at drugstores and health food stores).

  46. Keep pests away naturally, add a sprig of basil to a fruit bowl to deter fruit flies, rub a drop of vanilla extract into skin to control gnats.

  47. Pour hot boiling water and a strong cleaning detergent down the drain to eliminate nuisance gnats and flies.
Successful control of occasional invaders (earwigs, centipedes, millipedes, pillbugs and sowbugs) requires a "holistic approach" to this pest problem. Pest management specialists with experience in this area recommend:

  • Caulking cracks and cervices around the exterior of buildings, including all window casings.
  • Placing exterior lighting as far from structures as possible.
  • Keeping garbage cans tightly covered and up off the ground.
  • Weather-stripping all windows and doors.
  • Maintaining a vegetation-free zone around building perimeters.
  • Thinning or removing dense vegetation anywhere on the property.
  • Stacking firewood up off the ground and away from buildings.
  • Sealing all entry points into the structure, including those around plumbing, electrical wiring, etc.
  • Making sure all soffits and wall vents are properly screened.
  • Eliminating all access points to crawl spaces.
  • Removing all refuse around structures, including stones, grass clippings, boxes, leaves and mulch.
  • Making sure all ground level doors seal properly.

Repellent Plants that May Protect Desired Home Plantings from Pest Infestations
Repellent PlantsDesired Plants ProtectedPests Repelled
AsparagusTomatoSoil Insects
BeanPotatoColorado Potato Beetle
CeleryCole CropsWhite Cabbage Butterfly
FlaxPotatoColorado Potato Beetle
HempCole CropsCabbage Maggot
HerbsCole CropsCabbage Maggot
CarrotCarrot Fly
RadishFlea Beetle
LeekCarrotCarrot Fly
Lettuce (Head)RadishFlea Beetle
MarigoldPotato, Rose & TomatoNematodes
(African & French)
Cole CropsCabbage Maggot
Cole CropsWhite Cabbage Butterfly
Mole PlantTreesMoles and Mice
NasturtiumApple, Cole Crops & RadishAphids
Vine CropsSquash Bug
Greenhouse CropsWhitefly
OnionCarrotCarrot Fly
RadishVine CropsCucumber Beetle
TomatoAsparagusAsparagus Beetle
Cole CropsCabbage Maggot
Cole CropsWhite Cabbage Butterfly

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  Data Source: Ohio State University Extension. Articles and resource may contain pesticide recommendations that are subject to change at any time. These recommendations are provided only as a guide and it is always the pesticide applicator's responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used.