One of summer’s less than sensational aspects is … bugs. Hot weather plus rain equals lots of creepy crawlies coming out of the woodwork – or the garden, or the bathroom for that matter (why do daddy long legs hang out in the bath?).
But if you’re not keen on exposing your children, pets (or yourself) to a bunch of chemicals how can you get bugs to bug off? Luckily nature - and your kitchen cupboard – hold plenty of low-tox solutions.
Lavender is known as a natural bug-deterrent, along with lemon tea tree, eucalyptus and citronella. To repel insects – especially mosquitos – tie this herb in bunches and hang it around your entertaining areas and kitchen. There are also many DIY mozzie repellent recipes online which use essential oils - just make sure it’s suitable for your skin and check safety for children or pets.
Here’s a great one for party season, if you can part with a stubby or two. If snails and slugs are an issue in your garden, leave a plate of beer out, or half-bury it in the garden near the plants they like to eat. Slugs can’t resist the yeasty smell and they’ll crawl in and drown.
A lovely one for inside the house. Spiders dislike the smell of citrus fruits, so rub down any areas of your house (like that bathtub, or windowsills, bookshelves) that spiders like to frequent. An added perk? Citrus peels make a great natural furniture polish for wood!
Lavender isn’t the only herb bugs don’t love. Others include catnip, lemongrass, garlic, mint, citronella, basil and bay leaves. Plant these fragrant herbs around your doorways or keep them in pots. Not only will the herbs keep insects from making themselves at home, they’ll also inspire some creative cooking!
Do you have an ant issue? Just put some white vinegar in a spray bottle, and lightly spritz areas where ants like to hang out. Make sure to test the solution first if you are using it on carpet or a coloured fabric.
If you’re worried about moths, natural cedar is the way to go. You can buy cedar blocks or shavings at Howard’s Storage World or online. Place them in your closet and drawers to stop moths chewing through your clothes and linen.
Want to keep ants off your kitchen bench (or picnic table?) Slice up some cucumbers and leave them laying around – ants hate them!
According to anecdotal evidence, sprinkling cinnamon in your child’s sand pit can help keep bugs from hanging out in there. Can’t hurt to try, and might make mud pies taste better!
Keep a clean house… and a dry backyard
This one’s a bit boring but may well be worth all the natural cures put together. Regularly wiping up food scraps and spills, dusting and cleaning all the nooks and crannies in your home (try natural products such as Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Solution and Eucalyptus Spray) will help keep bug infestations to a minimum.
Outside the home, make sure you get rid of any pools of standing water – it’s a breeding ground for mozzies and other pests. That means draining bird baths, kiddie pools…. even small amounts of water, such as tend to collect inside pots, containers and children’s toys.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use.