Tuesday's Top 10: Natural Insect Repellents


Summer brings lots of bugs!

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Many news outlets have reported that this summer would be one of Long Island's buggiest. Yet another thing to blame on Superstorm Sandy.  Along with the good of summer (long days, holiday weekends and lush, green landscapes) comes the bad (humidity, beach traffic and bugs). 

Until cooler weather returns bees, and the usual gang of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes will take over with their usual massive offense. This year cicada bugs will emerge from their 17 year hibernation.  Do you remember that sound?  A great swarm of cicadas will bring their noise and funk to backyards. The roar is indescribable, like white noise pumped through dozens of concert speakers, like a football stadium packed with fans going out of their minds.

Here are a few steps you can take to defend against the invasion of any pests.  Good old-fashioned citronella candles are only effective when burned nearby.  New iPhone apps like Mosquito Repellent, Sonic Repeller, and Bug Spray claim to repel mosquitoes by emitting a supersonic sound so high as to repel mosquitoes. Most store-bought sprays like OFF! and Repel are effective. Make sure to spray in nooks and crannies, like behind your knees and inside your socks.

Here are some natural insect repellents:

  • Basil -  Flies hate the smell of basil. To discourage them, place pots of basil at doorways and windowsills and on the kitchen counter. Don’t have enough sun for potted basil? Put dried basil in a small muslin pouch, rubbing it occasionally to keep the scent strong.
  • Catnip - Cats love catnip. Mosquitoes? Not so much. According to Science Daily, catnip repels mosquitoes more effectively than DEET. Grow it in your garden or apply undiluted catnip oil to the skin for up to two hours of protection.
  • Citrus - Spiders are not fond of citrus. In a spray bottle, mix water and unsweetened lemon or lime juice. Wipe your countertops with the mixture or spray down doorways and windowsills. You can deter spiders in your garden by spreading around lemon, orange, or lime peels.
  • Vinegar –  Use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water to wipe down countertops and other surfaces—anywhere you’ve spotted ants. For best results, repeat this several times a day. Doing so destroys the scent trails that ants use to navigate.
  • Owls - A pair of barn owls and their brood can eat over 3,000 mice in a nesting season. Attract them to your property with an owl box, if a quiet rafter or tree crook is not available. Should the food supply be dependable, the same owls may return season after season.
  • FAKE wasp nest - Wasps are incredibly territorial and will not build a nest within 200 yards of another one. So build or buy your own fake nest! It’s like a scarecrow for wasps. Hang one in the front yard and one in back, and you’re done.
  • Salt - Alternately salting and vacuuming your floors will kill flea eggs. But since fleas have a three-day reproduction cycle, you have to be diligent: Salt every day for nine days and vacuum every third day. Don’t forget to empty the vacuum every time, or the live ones will crawl right back out again!
  • Cinnamon Bark - Cinnamon bark oil has been shown to control dust mites. Mix several drops into a 50/50 solution of water and denatured alcohol. Spray bedding, carpets, and any other places dust collects. Added benefit? Your house will smell like cookies!
  • Vinegar/Cider Vinegar,Dish liquid -Trap fruit flies with this simple approach: Fill a glass three-quarters full with vinegar or cider vinegar, then add six to eight drops of dishwashing liquid, and fill to the top with warm water. Gruesomely effective.
  • Irish Spring - Who could call Bambi a pest? A gardener. Many have had luck deterring deer with Irish Spring soap. Hang it or spike it to a stake near things that deer like to eat. Alternatively, sprinkle shavings or small chunks on the ground.


Do you have any tride and true pest deterrents?  Let us know on LongIsland.com's Forum.