Try This at Home

Natural pest control indoors and out

| June/July 2008

  • Vetiver essential oil can help keep ants away in outdoor areas. If ants are a problem inside, though, don't turn to vetiver. It can stain.

Protect Your Clothes with Lavender

To repel moths, try this sweet-smelling trick: Apply lavender essential oil to a cotton ball and tie a string around the ball. Hang the ball in your closet to deter moths. As an added bonus, the scent of lavender will give your spirits a lift every time you open the closet door.

Spring Cleaning for Pots and Flats

Sanitation is key to fighting plant pests and diseases in the garden and greenhouse. After herbalists Tina Marie Wilcox and Susan Belsinger move plants outdoors in late spring, they wash used pots and flats in soapy water spiked with antibacterial essential oils, such as tea tree or thyme, then rinse them in a 10 percent bleach solution.

Beat Kitchen Bugs with Bay

If you buy grains in bulk, you know that pests sometimes can turn up in your jars. Try tucking one or two bay leaves into your containers of rice, flour and other grains. Compounds in bay can help keep weevils from hatching.

A Spicy Plant Spray to Keep Bugs Away

Cayenne, a powerfully warming medicinal herb, dispels many of the worst garden pests. To make an effective plant spray, steep 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh crushed cayenne pepper in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes. Strain, pour into a spray bottle and spritz plants as needed. Caution: Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth after handling cayenne.

Repel Ants with Herbs

If you have ants in outdoor places you don’t want them, try using a strong concentration of vetiver essential oil in a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil. After sprinkling 2 tablespoons of premixed vetiver in almond oil inside her ant-plagued mailbox, Tina Marie Wilcox found hundreds of dead ants in the box the next day. "Six months later, my mailbox had no trace of ants … and my mail was pleasantly scented with vetiver oil," Wilcox says. Note: This mixture can stain, so be sure to use only in outdoor areas, and keep it out of children’s reach.

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