Make your own all-natural bug spray, ant traps

It’s been clearly documented that the use of pesticides has led to water pollution, and doctors and scientists have linked pesticides in our food to disease. 

We’re always looking for ways to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides in our homes and gardens, so when we saw these two recipes from Rodale’s Organic Life, we knew we had to share.

The first is for an all-natural pesticide solution— the ingredients of which can probably all be found in your kitchen. Just be sure to wear gloves when mixing and applying it, keep it off your skin, and keep it away from your nose, mouth and eyes, too — it’s a powerful irritant.

From Rodale:

1 garlic bulb
1 small onion
1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper
1 quart of water
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap

Chop, grind, or liquefy garlic and onion. Add cayenne pepper and mix with water. Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add liquid dish soap. Mix well. Spray your plants thoroughly, including the undersides of the leafs. Store the mixture for up to a week in a labeled, covered container in the refrigerator.

One other thing to be aware of: Use this as a last-ditch method to treat your plants, because it can harm the good bugs (including pollinators) as well as the ones you don’t want. You should try hand-picking bugs first, or rely on beneficial insects to do their job.

“The Ant and the Grasshopper,” from Aesop’s Fables. Illustration by Milo Winter.

 All the rain we’ve had seems to be driving more ants inside than usual. And while they may be hard workers, we don’t want them working in our kitchen. Instead of buying ant traps, try this recipe for making your own with boric acid, sugar and cotton balls. (Boric acid is a naturally occurring mineral — check out this article from Beyond Pesticides to find  out more.) 

From Rodale:

  1.  Get boric acid (found at drugstores), as well as sugar, cotton balls, and plastic containers with lids.
    Soak the cotton balls in a solution made of one teaspoon boric acid and six tablespoons sugar dissolved in two cups of water.
  2.  Punch holes in the plastic containers. Put the cotton balls in and cover them so the bait doesn’t dry out. Place on ant trails inside and outside. Be patient! They’ll carry the mild toxin back to their nest to share, and soon the trail of ants will cease.