Insects may be vital in our food chain but man, I really don’t want them in my kitchen. Each year, we go a round or two with ants invading our home, now followed in the summertime by massively annoying fruit flies. I’ve been trying not to pump our home full of chemicals (I mean, if you spray poison on an ant and it kills it instantly, imagine what it’s doing to your lungs!), so here are a few of the more “natural” bug repellents that I’ve used.
If you want to eliminate the colony of ants, try mixing 32 ounces of warm water with 1/8 cup laundry borax and 1/4 cup sugar. Mix it up and soak cotton balls in it. You can place the cotton balls around the periphery of your floors so ants will swarm to them, and there’s your homemade ant trap. Just be sure to place the cotton balls on top of a folded paper towel or small dish – don’t just throw them onto the floor directly. The cotton balls quickly become the consistency of cotton candy and eventually dry up like bricks. Not something you want to be chipping off your floor for several hours!
If you see a bunch of ants in one area (especially around trash cans, getting near your pantry, etc.) wipe the area down a few times a day with white vinegar. It will eliminate the scent of whatever they’re following and hopefully divert them to another, more enticing place . . . outside your home!
The trick is to catch them somewhere where they can’t get out. Hanging strips of fly paper works a little bit, but you can also put a small piece of fruit or a small amount of apple cider vinegar into little cups or containers. Cover the tops with wax paper and punch a small hole in it. The flies will be attracted inside to drink the juice but won’t be able to escape.
They also breed very quickly, so it’s important to get ahead of the curve and prevent them from laying eggs. So catch as many as possible, and also be vigilant about areas in your home that are prime breeding grounds. That includes warm, wet areas and any standing water. They seem to congregate in drains, so one of the best things you can do is boil a few pots of water throughout the day, and dump the hot water down all of your sinks. After a week or so you should see quite a reduction in fruit fly activity.
Citronella has always been very popular and, as far as I know, is still quite effective. If you’re into essential oils, oil of lemon eucalyptus is a good mosquito repellant. According to Healthline, “You can create your own mixture with 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil to 10 parts sunflower oil or witch hazel. [But] researchers from the University of Florida caution against using the mixture on children under 3 years of age.”
If you’re outside around a fire at night, you could also toss some thyme leaves in the flames. This seems to work well as a natural repellant.
Moving on to some insects that we should probably enable, rather than deter . . .
If they’re the smaller, harmless kind, leave them alone, please. They’re the best natural remedy to eliminate many other pesky insects in your home! Just let your children watch “Charlotte’s Web” or “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” I promise you, after that they will be begging you not to kill insects.
If you’re deathly allergic, you can disregard this advice, but since we actually WANT bees to be around and work extra hard at their pollination duties, and if you have some space to work with, consider making part of your yard a bee-friendly zone. Pick an area (far back from your house or building) and plant a stand of wildflowers, or just let the clover run wild. The honey lovers of the world will thank you!
Whatever you do, don’t try to remove a bee’s nest on your own. Always call a local beekeeper or beekeeping organization to ask their advice on removal.