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We can all agree that bugs have their purpose in this world, especially our favorites; the pollinators, but getting rid of the pesky ones naturally can sometimes be a bit of a conundrum. What to use that will actually work, is natural, and if eaten won't kill us people, our little ones, and our pets…but still kills pests? The answer is not as tricky as you think! There are a couple fantastic natural options for use against insects and bugs of all kinds, but the one I am sharing with you today is a fantastic All-Purpose bug spray because it can work outside, inside, and on any bug you like!
First a word on my OTHER favorite natural bug killer
Before we get started discussing how amazing essential oils are (because we all know they are!), there is one other fantastic natural pest control option that you can use inside or outside your home, and even in the garden! This magic natural ingredient is Diatomaceous Earth! If you have never heard of this stuff, you are in for a fantastic treat! The word “diatomaceous” comes from the root word “diatom”, which is a single-celled organism. Diatomaceous earth is a chalk-like powder that is made up entirely of these diatoms that have fossilized over thousands of years. While DE is safe to use on humans, it is harmful to insects because of its mechanical makeup. It contains no toxins of any kind. On the microscopic level, it is coarse and porous, making it highly absorbent. It sticks to insects and wicks valuable moisture away from their exoskeletons, fatally dehydrating them. This can take time, anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on the conditions and the kind of bug. The great thing about this non-toxic powder is that you can sprinkle it in your garden, around your plants, or even on that line of ants in your kitchen. Just be sure you get Food Grade DE (This is my favorite brand) and not pool grade DE! The pool grade DE can cause respiratory issues. Because this is an ancient clay-like substance, there are a lot of beneficial minerals in DE that are helpful to people, animals, and plants! Stay tuned for more on DE in my next post, where we'll be using it to make an herbal flea powder for your furry family members!
Using essential oils to battle blight, fungus, and bugs
We've talked a lot about the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties of many different essential oils, but we always think about these properties when cleaning household surfaces, or using for health purposes. Many essential oils can be used in the garden for these same purposes! Many of your plant's ailments can be mended by using essential oils instead of their toxic counterparts. Tea tree and lavender essential oils are very antibacterial and antifungal and work well to combat fungus and bacteria issues on your plants. Add 10 drops tea tree essential oil and 10 drops lavender essential oil to 1 gallon of water, before watering. I have also been known to add essential oils to a spray bottle, along with water, and spray just the affected area too! My Medicine Woman essential oil blend is not just great during the cold and flu season, it's another blend that is great to also use in the garden. It's not only highly antibacterial and antifungal but will also help protect your plants from bugs too!
Essential oils that repel and kill creepy crawlies
There are many essential oils out there that can repel and kill creepy crawlies around your house and in your garden. You can use these essential oils in your watering can, as a bug spray, and even in candles to ward off insects and bugs of all kinds!
- Ants: Peppermint, spearmint, garlic, citronella, orange, cedarwood
- Aphids: Cedarwood, hyssop, peppermint, spearmint, orange, cedarwood
- Beetles: Peppermint, thyme, garlic, cedarwood, orange
- Caterpillars: Peppermint, spearmint, cedarwood, orange
- Chiggers: Lavender, lemongrass, sage, thyme, cedarwood, orange
- Cutworm: Thyme, sage, cedarwood, orange
- Fleas: Lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, cedarwood, citronella, tansy, orange
- Flies: Lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sage, citronella, tansy, cedarwood, orange, lemongrass, lemon, thyme, tea tree, sandalwood, patchouli
- Gnats: Patchouli, spearmint, orange, citronella, tagetes, cedarwood, peppermint, eucalyptus, rose geranium
- Mosquitoes: Lavender, lemongrass, orange, citronella, tansy, cedarwood, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, thyme, rose geranium, clove, blue cypress, cinnamon, sage
- Head Lice: Lavender, tea tree, geranium, spearmint, peppermint, pine, thyme, orange, rosemary, cedarwood
- Plant Lice: Peppermint, spearmint, cedarwood, orange
- Moths: Cedarwood, hyssop, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, citronella, orange
- Roaches: Cedarwood, eucalyptus, cinnamon, thyme, orange
- Slugs: Cedarwood, hyssop, pine, garlic, orange
- Snails: Cedarwood, pine, patchouli, garlic, orange
- Spiders: Peppermint, spearmint, lemon, lime, orange, citrus, lavender, citronella, cedarwood
- Ticks: Lavender, lemongrass, orange, sage, thyme, citronella, tea tree, geranium, cedarwood, tansy, eucalyptus, sweet myrrh
- Weevils: Cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, orange
My TWO favorite bug KILLING oils
When I am making a bug spray to kill bugs, there are TWO specific essential oils that I always utilize in my sprays, because they work SO WELL at killing pretty much all bugs everywhere.
- Orange oil – In a world full of biological pesticides which don’t work very well, orange oil stands out because it wipes out or repels entire colonies, and prevents re-infestations, instead of simply killing insects individually. D-limonene (the main constituent of orange oil) is harmless to humans, but deadly to most insects because it dissolves the waxy coating on the exoskeleton of insects, causing dehydration and asphyxiation. One application of orange oil will destroy a full colony of ants. Then, even more importantly, its powerful scent will eradicate the pheromone trail left behind by the ants. Re-infestation usually happens when “new” ants follow that trail back to the original ant nesting spot. But if they can’t find the pheromone trail, a new colony won’t be setting up shop in your home or business. This oil is so effective at killing bugs, that you should be aware of which bugs you are spraying, as this can also kill beneficial bugs and pollinators.
- Cedar oil – Cedar oil affects octopamine, a compound that is essential to life for pheromone-driven “bad bugs” like fleas and ticks. Octopamine is responsible for regulating heart rate, movement, and behavior in pests. It’s essential for life. Cedar oil blocks the octopamine neurotransmitter receptors in pests, causing them to be repelled from the area. When “bad bugs” come in contact with cedar oil, pests suffocate and die. Mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and beneficial insects are not affected by cedar oil because they do not have octopamine neurotransmitters.
DIY Bugs-B-Gone Home & Garden Spray
Soap is very effective against all forms of bugs! It also helps to keep flying bugs from flying again, once their wings are drenched, keeping them from coming at you for killing them! This spray can be used both indoors and outdoors, and even on/around your plants in the garden. Beware, this spray will kill ALL bugs, including the good ones, such as bees and butterflies, so be aware of who you are spraying. It won't kill them if they come to the plant after it's been sprayed, only if they get sprayed themselves! This spray is so awesome, I have used it to kill ants/fire ants, cockroaches, wasps (you really want to make sure you have a spray bottle with a stream function if you are going to go after these buggers), aphids, caterpillars, flies/horseflies, mosquitoes, and more! This spray is safe for use around your babies & kiddos of all ages!
- 1/4 cup liquid castile soap (you can alternately use any of the scented Dr. Bronner's kind as well, such as lavender, citrus, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus)
- 1 tsp. sweet orange essential oil (alternately you can use 1 tsp. orange oil)
- 1 tsp. Virginia cedarwood essential oil
- filtered water to fill
- 32 oz. commercial spray bottle (The commercial strength spray bottles are made without BPA and are strong enough to be used with essential oil. I have tried so hard to find a glass version of this, but they are just not that common still. If you don't want to use a commercial plastic spray bottle, you can halve this recipe and use this 16 oz. glass spray bottle instead!)
- Combine castile soap, cedar oil, and orange oil in a 32 oz. spray bottle (preferably the kind meant for cleaning so that you can change from spray to stream when you need) and add water to fill. Cap and shake well to mix together.
- Label and store in a cool dark cabinet when not in use.
TO USE: Spray directly onto the bugs you are trying to demolish. They may walk or run away, but they will slow down and die. For flying bugs, it's easiest to spray them when they have landed, either on their hive or on the ground/walls/etc. You can make this mixture (using peppermint castile soap) in a large batch, using boiling water, and pour over the ant piles in your yard as well. You have to remember that ant homes can be very large underground cities, so this is a repetitive process that causes them to move their homes out of your yard.
Natural pest control for your entire family
While this spray is fantastic around your home and garden, you may also want to battle the bugs around you and your family's bodies too! These are some of my favorite recipes to use for the whole family!