Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Natural Pest Control

Suggestions, Resources and Books

©1997, 2009 Melissa Kaplan


When you have children or pets, finding safe ways to get rid of natural pests becomes increasingly important. When one has enclosed or free-roaming reptiles, it becomes even more important to find ways to get rid of the unwanted beasties who congregate in undesirable levels in our homes and yards.

During the wet weather, I kept finding my kitchen and iguana room, and occasionally my snake room, infested with ants. I found that Grant's ant baits, properly primed with a toothpick and hot water (as directed on the box) would get rid of even the blackest flood of ants within 24-36 hours, but in the mean time, the little blighters would range far and wide. I wanted some way of restricting their travels that would still be safe for my iguanas and other free roamers. The iguanas and blue-tongue skink were of particular concern due to their habit of investigating new things in their environment with their tongues. Based on something I read in rec.pets.herp, I tried something when the last invasion was just beginning. I pulled out my large container of ground cinnamon, and poured out the cinnamon to form borders beyond which I hoped the ants would not cross.

It worked! It kept them corralled on one part of my kitchen counter, stopping them from spreading across the counter and down to the floor. As for the ants coming in a crack in the wall beneath the ceiling in the iguana room, I laid down cinnamon in the corner on the floor below, and on the basking shelves above - so the ants that managed to get down the wall between the shelves and walls were stopped at the floor. For good measure, I used a syringe and "squirted" some cinnamon into the crack itself. In less than a day, no more ants were seen. And the room smells nice, too!

Herewith are tips and tricks suggested by others. While I hope that you never have to use any of them, I hope they work for you as well as the cinnamon works for me!

What Makes A Product Toxic?
What makes a pesticide (-cide = kill) non-toxic to the environment and other animals, including you? All of the ingredients in a product, inert and active, go into the environment. If the active or inactive/inert ingredients are non-toxic, such as fatty acids, but they are put into a petrochemical base, the product is still, technically, toxic and should not be used when a non-toxic alternative is being sought. You may have to question the manufacturer about the inert ingredients if you cannot find information on them elsewhere. By law, all sellers of pesticides and other toxic products must have Materials Safety Data Sheets on hand for all the products they sell to give to consumers who request them, or they must be able to provide the consumer with specific information on how to obtain it for the products they sell. Few, however, do. See the MSDS Online section for sites with online MSDS information.

Letter to Pest Control Companies
Pesticide Exposures: Symptoms, First Aid, Evidence, Legal



Beetles & Cockroaches
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Plant/Soil Pests
Reptile Mites
Skunk Odor Remover
Ticks & Lice


Related Matters
Bait Jars


Related Articles
A Note to Pest Control Companies...
Biological Warfare
Good Housekeeping

Pyrethroids & Permethroids: Not as safe as you think...


Other Websites of Interest For Plant and Animal Pests
Check these for more suggestions and for things not covered at my site

The Bug Store: Beneficial bugs
The Bug Clinic
Biocontrol Network gardening and natural pest control

Gardens Alive!: Natural and IPM techniques gardening supplies Articles and resources on IPM

Havahart: Live traps for mammalian pests

Integrated Pest Management Practical information and courses
Landscaping@ Covers a variety of mammalian and avian pests Products for home, pets, garden Non-toxic alternatives to insect pests Covers a variety of vertebrates & invertebrates

University And Other Sites
National Institutes of Health: Ants and more...
New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
University of California, Davis
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (UN, Lincoln)
While this site doesn't address pests specifically, there are some very interesting uses for some everyday products far beyond what you might using AlkaSeltzer®, Efferdent®, or CocaCola® to clean your toilet!

ANTS - Regular and Fire

Regular Ants
Note that different types of ants have different food preferences, so what works for one type may not work for another. You may have to try a few different things to see what gives you the results you want.

For ants of any sort inside use your typical bait trap, and sprinkle talc in areas that you do not wish them to travel. usually I can coax them to a bait trap by leaving a certain area without talc. Do not use baby powder that is made of cornstarch... this will not bother them. it has to be talc. (Joseph Howington) (Melissa notes: if you have pets who may lick up or kick up and inhale the talc, it will be safer for the pets to use another method.)

This is a good one for repelling ants from the kitchen. Mix a little peppermint toothpaste with a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Apply to area of benches, cupboards, etc. with a cotton bud (Q-Tip). It really works. (Chrissy Pearson)

Draw lines using chalk around areas to protect them from ants or to keep them from entering areas. Adding crushed egg shell to potted plants also helps keep plant pests away. (Catherine Rigby)

Plant bee balm (Monarda sp.) around the foundations of the house. (Susan MacLeod)

Plant around house, or make sachets, or sprays of infusions of spike lavender, garlic, geranium, citronella, eucalyptus, clove, camphor, atlas cedarwood, mints, thyme, basil, rosemary, lemon balm, chili peppers. (Catherine Rigby)

I have heard that ants aren't very fond of red pepper, red chili powder or cream of tartar. I have tried cayenne pepper. It kept them pretty well corralled but the really determined buggers would cross the line anyway. (Christa Boroskin)

I kill stray ants with a mixture of liquid dish soap and water in a spray bottle. I believe the liquid soap serves to immobilize the ant and then drown it. It works within seconds. My mother-in-law used a mixture of Simple Green and water to the same effect. Just wipe up with a sponge. (Christa Boroskin)

Borax powder is used as a sprinkle around the house, but it could be harmful to free roamers. I found an alternate recipe for ant powder: one cup baking soda plus one cup confectioner's sugar. (Catherine Rigby)

Ants really dislike mint. You can do all kinds of things with mint. One of the easiest is to get Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Shampoo and just put a line of it across areas where ants are coming in. They won't cross the line. (Judy & Mike Stouffer)

Coffee grounds. Make yourself some coffee and just scoop the wet grounds out of the pot and place them in strategic locations. The ants back off. (And if you don't drink coffee, you can still make it and use the grounds.) I used to keep the grounds damp by spraying them with a little water now and then. When the ants start getting bold, use more fresh grounds. After awhile, they just stopped coming! (Amani Booher)

I have found that grease-eating ants (carpenter ants) like a mixture of bacon grease, flour and boric acid. I place it in a small glass jar with holes in the lid (this keeps kids and pets out) and mark the content. Just place outside or near the nest. They will eat it and die over a period of weeks. Use the same type of container for other ants and mix with peanut butter and boric acid, or honey and boric acid. For common sugar ants you can buy little containers of liquid boric acid solution.

The biggest problem in the south is fire ants. I bait the same way, but I also use a boric acid paste (from Blue mountain) and squeeze into a straw, cut into 3" strips and place near the nest. It will dry, so every few days rub the straw to make fine particles. You want to make sure you don't contaminate the soil.

Boiling water works, but you have to be very careful. Fire ants feed in the morning and evening. You have to approach the nest very softly or they will retreat underground.

Any detergent will kill ants. (Makes you wonder about detergent.) Keep a mixture in a spray bottle for instant kill. The soap will destroy the chemical trail that they follow.

The best solution is to repair and replace screens and window caulking at least once a year. Blocking them from getting in is easier than getting them out of the house. (Nicole Ashley)

It seems that ants don't like capsacin, used in topical pain medications. I couldn't find the ground cinnamon one night and was trying to figure out what to use to corral them to keep them from spreading out and guide them towards the bait. Was thinking of trying Vaseline, but didn't have any, and didn't want to sacrifice the little bit of antibiotic ointment I had left. My eye fell upon a jar of chondroitin-boswellian-capsacin cream, so I figured, "why not?" Smeared it on the counter and splash, corralling them in like I've done with cinnamon; they won't cross the line. Told some friends about it and within days one had an opportunity to try it. Worked like a charm... (Melissa Kaplan)

The least toxic system we've used for getting rid of the ants is a mixture of 1/3 Boric powder + 1/3 cornmeal + 1/3 powdered sugar. You mix this all up and then make little foil "boats" and put some of the mix on the boats and place them under sinks, fridges, behind w/d, etc. If a warm-blooded pet licks at them, it won't kill them at most it will cause a slight burning sensation of the mouth. This mixture gets rid of everything from the ants to those huge palmetto bugs! You can sprinkle it around the outside of your house. Ants will travel in your house via the wires. You can remove the outlet covers on light switches, etc. and put some of this mixture in there. You can go up in your attic and sprinkle it all up there (works on silverfish, too). I've seen a variation of this mixture on the shelves at stores, but it is cheaper to mix it yourself. I've NOT tried this on fire ants. If anybody does, let me know if it works! (

There is a product called Terro that is available in hardware stores. When I was in FL for a month going through a biodetoxification program, I stayed at some apartments that are designed to be "safe" for people with MCS. The owners were very strict about what could be used to deal with the prolific ant population. This was one of the products - worked for me! (Barbara Fossey)

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences site has suggestions on dealing with ants.

I was desperate to get rid of the brown ants invading my bathroom and was petrified that they would eventually take over my tiny apartment. I thought I grabbed the container of cinnamon but after a few sprinkles I realized it was cumin! It worked like a charm. A filled all cracks & crevices where I thought they were entering with the cumin and made a border of it at the bathroom door. Thankfully they packed their bags and left. Judging from the other tips at your website-ants are bland eaters, I think any aromatic spice would work. (Dayna Smith)

I was having problems with ants getting into my hanging hummingbird feeders. Finally combined a couple of anti-ant tricks and got rid of least on the feeders. First I liberally applied Vaseline Petroleum Jelly in a four inch wide swath on the stand (this would also work on whatever you have the nail stuck into from which the feeder is hung). That, believe it or not, didn't stop them, so next I threw ground cinnamon at the Vaseline so that the jelly was coated with the cinnamon. Twenty four hours later, no ants. Just in case any bypassed the barrier by climbing to higher leaves and leaping for the stand (which is like a big shepherd's crook stuck in the ground) or the feeder itself, I coated the top of the feeder with Vaseline and then topped it off with cinnamon. (Melissa Kaplan)

The herb "pennyroyal" is a natural herb to get rid of ants in the home or garden. Just clip off foliage and squeeze out the oils inside the plant onto the ground around your flowers or garden. Within 24 hours, the ants will move on. This works well in the home where ants can be found. (April Henry)


Fire Ants
I work at a community college in NC and have had to deal with a severe infestation of fire ants on my property. every thing i have tried with the exception of the harshest powdered chemicals has failed... except 1 thing. The bucket. Take a 5 gallon bucket and mix in dish liquid (about the same ratio you would use to wash a sink full of dishes) go to the mound and with a stick or other utensil, scrape across the top of the mound very quickly to open it up and force the workers to come out to play. as soon as you see them react, start dumping the water into the mound. Continue until the water stops flowing into the mound readily, or until the workers that got away make it to your feet. i have seen it take 3 gallons easy to completely saturate a mound. (Joseph Howington)

I use a manual method to control fire ants. I turn the mound over with a shovel. If it doesn't work the first time it does after a couple of times. (Neil Sweet)

A company called The Bug Store sells organic bug killers and beneficial insects for people who want help controlling insects. There weren't any beneficial insects for regular ants, but apparently there is a nematode you can use against fire ants. Lots of suggestions for control of unwanted insects. Visit their site at

I have used chili powder and raw lemons against fire ants in TX - and they are very difficult to combat. Once I went around the outer perimeter of the foundation with chili pepper and squirted lemons and rubbed the rinds around the door jambs. I never saw another ant. (Maggie MacRaven)

A boiling water drench of the mound does a better job! Most of the ants and eggs are within inches of the surface, which is why they can appear so fast when the mound is touched. (

Killing the egg laying queen is the only way to destroy the colony. Wait a day when the ground is dry and the rain is at least a day away, then gently sprinkle a teaspoon of instant grits on each fire ant hill. The worker ants carry the grits to the queen who eats them. When she drinks water, the grits expand in her stomach and kill her. The remainder of the hill dies within less than a day. Suggestion of Karen Hammond of Monroe, GA from the book the Tightwad Gazzette by Amy Dacyczyn, NY, Villard Books, 1999 (912 pp) (Christa Boroskin)

To keep fire ants out of pet food bowls, place the bowls inside larger bowls of water. To keep them out of outdoor pet enclosures, place the legs inside cans or pails of water.

This trick has been working so far here at our house----in a gallon milk jug mix 4 tablespoons of DAWN dishwashing LIQUID and fill with HOT WATER. Pour the mixture over the mound. BE CAREFUL!!! The ants will come out and start attacking so know where your feet are in relation to where those ants are!! The soap is what kills them and the water is what delivers the soap. (

If you have two separate nests in your your hard dig one up and place it right next to the hole. Dig up the other one and dump it right next to the first one. The ants will battle between themselves.

There are insect companies that will come and kill fire ants for you in an ecologically safe manner. Basically, they bring this unit to your yard, insert a hose into the holes of the fire ant colony, and inject super heated steam. It essentially boils the bugs, but doesn't harm your pets/plants, etc. (Natalie Rigertas)

In a dry environment, put down dry grits. The ants eat the grits, drink something or get wet and then they swell up and explode!! They also drag them into the nest with similar results. Well, it is a relatively safe way to deal with them (except for the ants !). (Susan and Jay)


Bat Control, North Dakota State University
Bats of Missouri, University of Missouri (not just for Missouri bats)
Wildlife Damage Control: Bats, Penn State


Bees and wasps avoid hives that are not their own, because these meetings turn into wars. Take a brown paper bag, sandwich size, shape it like a hive, and hang it outside. I got this idea from a friend who says it works, I have not tried it personally but in theory it sounds like something to try! (Adriana)

Perhaps the key point for these folks is not so much repelling the bees as not attracting them in the first place. Suggestions for dis-tracting bees from Suzanne:

  • Wear no scented products - cologne, after shave, deodorant, as the scents attract bees.
  • Get a bag of pears and apples and put them out away from the house where they can rot in peace. The bees will be attracted to the pears. When the pears rot, they also ferment, esp. if they are in the hot sun. The bees do not bumble nearly as fast after sipping at this feast. Nor do they bother humans. (Unless, of course, you get a bee who cannot hold his ferment well. ;)



Ladybugs: If they get into the house, vacuum them up and release them outside. For more information, check out the Penn State FAQ.


Let some small geckos loose in the dwelling. Place standing water out for them to drink. They will feast upon the roaches at night in the late evening, sleeping on walls behind appliances, tall furniture or artwork during the day. (Tricia, Melissa Kaplan)

My husband and I use a very old method of killing cockroaches which involves speed and quick reflexes. We use a long wooden dowel left from our closet remodeling job to reach and stab/crush cockroaches that climb along our walls and ceilings. The dowel (at around 4 feet in length and 1.5 inches \around) not only enables us to get the out of reach ones but it also puts some distance between us and them. A gruesome method but one hell of a lot better than using insecticides that make even me sick to my stomach and that are toxic to probably everything--not just the cockroach. We've also been known to use my husband's tennis shoe. (Christa Boroskin)

Make a non-toxic roach bait and set it out in roach infested areas:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening or bacon drippings
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup flour
8 ounces baking soda

Combine sugar and shortening. Add onion, flour, and baking soda. Mix in just enough water to make a dough-like consistency. Put small balls in plastic sandwich bags (other alternatives: spread some on margarine tub lids, or put in a lidded plastic container with small roach-sized holes cut in the bottom of the sides for the roaches to use to get in and out but that will keep pets out) and place in roach-infested areas. The bait creates gas in the roach when eaten. Because roaches can't belch, their digestive tracts explode. You should probably keep them out of areas where children and pets play. (From first-hand experience -- when our neighbor's cat comes over she always wants to taste the bait; I believe it smells very appetizing to her. So this bait would only be useful if it was inaccessible to your animals IMO). This is from Rhonda Barfield of St. Charles, MO from the book the Tightwad Gazzette, by Amy Dacyczyn, NY, Villard Books, 1999; 912 pp. (Christa Boroskin)


Earwigs will collect overnight in folds of damp paper or cardboard. Just pick it up early in the morning and toss in the garbage.

Or, collect the earwigs, crush them, and spread the paste around the areas you don't want earwigs.


Make a water trap: Partially fill a shallow pan with water. Suspend light source securely above it. Fleas (and other bugs) are attracted to the light, jump or fall into the water and drown. (Catherine Rigby)

Water's surface tension enables many small insects, such as fleas to be able to walk, or hop right across water. A few drops of liquid soap (earth friendly brands work fine, too), should be added to the water pan. This breaks the surface tension of the water, causing the insects to drown. (Siberia)


Beer and Bait Jar traps work well for fruit flies. (Melissa Kaplan)

Take a small Glass - like a juice glass... and pour 1 inch of Dark CIDER (make sure it is real cider vinegar - not just the colored stuff) in the glass. Take some plastic wrap and cover the top of the glass - securing with a rubber band. Take a sharp object like a bamboo skewer and POKE holes - about 6 in the plastic wrap Put the glass near your fly problem.. they are stupid - can crawl down into the plastic wrap holes - but not out! EMPTY the glass outdoors far away from your house - or if mean... shake well until all flies are too wet to fly away - and flush down the drain... Change cider daily... oh - we also found out red wine works well too! (Cheryl)


I found that a little white wine left in a bottle will attract and drown out pesky gnats. (Marcia Martins)

Try some of the tips in Flies, too. (Melissa)



How to trap a mouse without a trap or poison



Dump all standing water and keep rain gutters clear so water drains out and the gutters dry quickly. Walk your property regularly to make sure nothing is collecting water unnoticed. Particularly important if you share common areas with neighbors who may not be as concerned about mosquito-borne diseases as they should be. If you have pond or other large water features, use mosquito fish or mosquito "dunks", powders or pellets (containing Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis, AKA Bt) in all ponds. See Gardens Alive!, Biocontrol Network, and Most garden centers and nurseries carry Bt. Also check with your local mosquito vector control agency for the availability of mosquito fish and Bt. (Melissa)

If holes and depressions in trees are collecting water that cannot be easily emptied, pour a little cooking oil on the surface. Females will not lay their eggs on it, and any larvae already in the water will not be able to emerge through the oil. Top off as needed. If the hole or area is too small to use a spoon to place the oil, you can use an oil can that has a fine pouring spout. (Janet's landlord's arborist)

Melissa adds to the arborist's recommendations: if the place to be oiled is too small for pouring from the bottle or you don't have a fine-spouted oil can, try a feeding syringe (with a large bore hub), small baster or flavor injector, or buy a bottle of olive oil that comes with a pour spout (such as Santini EVOO at Trader Joe's), or find a pour spout made for liquor bottles, then pour oil in an empty bottle the spout fits into. Check cooks/restaurant and bar supply stores for these insertable pour spouts.

West Nile Virus information


Dried mint in cloth bags will repel moths from clothing.(Catherine Rigby)

Throw mint tea packets into clothing and drawers in lieu of mothballs to repel insects (Catherine Rigby)

If you must use mothballs: Place a few in babyfood jars with holes drilled in lids and leave wherever needed. (Catherine Rigby)

Freshly sanded cedar wood placed in drawers and closets will repel moths. You can "refresh" older pieces of cedar by sanding them. Sheets of cedar can be purchased at closet stores and builder supply stores to be used to line closets, drawers and trunks. (Melissa Kaplan)

I haven't found a way to keep spiders out, but I do let harmless ones hang around as much as they want as a way of keeping moths and houseflies under control. (Melissa Kaplan)

Something new I've tried that seems to work pretty well: lavender oil, poured onto a sponge or cotton balls,, set into a small cup. You can get the oil at health food stores and from aromatherapy suppliers.

Rosemarie from Cyprus writes: "I use dry lavender flowers as a moth deterrent. I fill pop-socks with the flowers, so they are like a sausage and hang them in my wardrobe, or behind oriental wall rugs. I bought a wool rug in Jordan and it's been hanging up for 5 years and is as good as the day I bought it. Young snails love to eat fallen lavender flowers, then it kills them."


What NOT To Use...

The Scent of Cancer
Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 109, Number 4, April 2001

Mothballs may be as bad for you as they are good for your sweaters. On 25 January 2001, the National Toxicology Program published its 500th two-year rodent chemical safety test on naphthalene, the chemical that gives mothballs their smell. The study found clear evidence that naphthalene caused cancer in male and female rats who were exposed by inhalation, the main route of exposure for humans. Regulators will use this information to determine if the chemical presents a risk to humans.

Naphthalene is also used in chemical manufacturing and by veterinarians for controlling lice and disinfecting wounds. The chemical can enter the human food chain when it is used on livestock. Naphthalene was nominated for study after German workers exposed to it were diagnosed with laryngeal, gastric, nasal, and colon cancers.

Removes the stinky stuff from dog and cat coats. ( Santa Cruz vet tech Chris)

1 cup water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tsp liquid dishwasher soap

Mix well. When ready to use, mix in 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide. Work the solution into dog's coat. Keep solution out of dog's face and eyes. Rinse well with clear water. This solution has no shelf life.

This from Mike Sanchez who tried this: Just as an FYI, you may wish to put a disclaimer on the skunk odor remover. I tried this remedy when my dogs got sprayed along with quite a few others and none worked. All seem like they work at first but it is just the olfactory nerves in your nose shutting down from over exposure to the smell. The smell goes away from you perspective, but no one else's.


Sprinkle salt on the walkways. (Julie Babcock)

Put an ad in the local herp society newsletter offering to let turtle and other snail-eating herp owners come and collect snails in your garden and walkways at night. (Melissa Kaplan)

My landlord had laid down weedblock and gravel in the front and backyards which otherwise had very little in the way of plants. In the back, my chickens took care of what plants there were any invertebrate organisms that dared to venture into the wasteland. After building my tortoise pen, lined with various edible plants and seeded with pasture mix,, I began to have a snail/slug problem out there, one that increased after also planting a variety of greens for myself and the iguanas is large tubs. Now, after not only having all of my vegetable seedlings consumed by an escalating crop of slugs and snails, but also having my gingko bonsais disappear within two nights, I realized that I was unable to keep up with the populations by feeding them to my turtles and blue-tongue skink and relocating buckets of them. So instead of relocating, The Great Salt God descended and smote them. I collected them over the course of a couple of nights, placing them in a bucket and sprinkled them heavily with salt. As I put the additional ones in there, they came into contact with the salt. It took three nights of doing this before the populations thinned out enough for me to see a noticeable improvement in the seedlings that survived and to have to go to my front yard to get snails for my backyard box turtle to eat. (Melissa Kaplan)

Garlic - not just a condiment anymore, as this abstract from a research project in India shows.

Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around and on plants kills slugs. It's made out of ground up shells [sic: they are actually diatom skeletons. MK]. It must be reapplied after heavy rains. Most garden centers carry it--Don't use the kind from pool supply stores. (Phyllis)

I use crushed egg shells! I sprinkle them in my garden and they keep the snails and slugs away! It is so simple and works! (RussChan1)

Many sources recommend putting out dishes (plates, jar lids) containing beer (left-overs are okay). Not recommended if you have dogs or cats that enjoy a brewski now and then. (Janko)

Young snails love to eat fallen lavender flowers, then it kills them. (Rosemarie)

See also Plant/Soil Pests


A great anti-spider remedy that I use is 3 parts distilled white vinegar mixed with 1 part vanilla extract. I put it in a spray bottle and spray everywhere spiders hang out. They hate it, and stay away a long time after that. (Ana)


Plant around house, or make sachets or sprays of infusions of spike lavender, garlic, geranium, citronella, eucalyptus, clove, camphor, atlas cedarwood, mints,thyme, basil, rosemary, lemon balm, chili peppers. (Catherine Rigby)



Bees and wasps avoid hives that are not their own, because these meetings turn into wars. Take a brown paper bag, sandwich size, shape it like a hive, and hang it outside. I got this idea from a friend who says it works, I have not tried it personally but in theory it sounds like something to try! (Adriana)

Start with a clean glass jar. To enable non-winged insects to easily climb up the glass, roughen the outsides with coarse sand paper or wrap wrap mildly sticky tape around the outsides of it. Coat inner lip of jar with petroleum jelly. Add the bait: a piece of fruit (banana is especially good), beer, etc. Place the jar in problem areas. Empty, clean and replace the bait and petroleum jelly as needed. You can also "install" these jars outside, burying them in the ground so that just the lip is sticking up above the surface. (Catherine Rigby)

Another bait trick is to pour some beer into a shallow bowl or jar lid. The drowned insects can be poured out and the trap rebaited as necessary. Not as aesthetic as using a dark glass jar for bait, but it is effective. (Catherine Rigby)

Simple fruit fly trap.  University of Kentucky / Entomology

From the University of Kentucky/Entomology Department:

A better approach, however, is to construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple but effective trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies which can then be killed or released outdoors.









Use 2 teaspoons of fresh herb, or 1 teaspoon of dried, per "serving." Add the herb to 1 cup of boiling water; remove from heat. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. Pour the cooled infusion into a dark bottle and seal tightly or pour into a squirt bottle. The infusion can be squirted on problem areas (or the pests themselves) or daubed on with cotton balls. If you make several batches at ones, you can store the infusion in the dark bottles in the refrigerator. (Catherine Rigby)

You can either make small bags out of any loosely woven scrap cloth (t-shirt or towel, cheesecloth, for example) or use the small drawstring bags made for infusing herbs in soups and stews. If you are sewing-challenged, you can simply cut a square of the cloth and place a small pile of the herb in the center. Draw up corners and tie off with ribbon or string, and place or hang as needed. (Catherine Rigby)


Aphids – wash them away. Because they are creatures of habit, once disturbed by a blast from a hose, they may not return. If they do, then make a soap spray of dishwashing detergent and water and spray on the plant. Be sure to use a safer dishwashing detergent brand like Seventh Generation or Ecover, as the petroleum-based chemicals in others can be quite bad for your plants. Soap solutions create a thin film that blocks the tubes through which insects breathe. Health Tips/ Nature's Country Store

Hot water will kill most plants. Boil some water in a kettle and take it outside and pour over anything you want to kill. I've used this successfully on a number of weeds -- even dandelions with their long taproot. (LaVerne Chappell)

If you don't want anything to grow in the area you are treating, use table salt. Just sprinkle it on very liberally and it will kill any plant and will prevent new weeds from sprouting. I use it in the spaces between stepping stones and for weeds that grow in the seams of my sidewalk. (Phyllis)

You can kill weeds vinegar spray. Use a mixture of 5 tablespoons per gallon of water of liquid Ivory soap for very young weeds. Sprinkle baking soda on them, and they will quickly turn brown. Health Tips/ Nature's Country Store

Check out the following sites for biological control of beasties you'd rather not have in your garden.

Biocontrol Network
Bugological Control Systems
Defenders (UK)

Weed Killer Sprays
From Rodale's "Great Gardening Formulas: The Ultimate Book of Mix-It-Yourself Concoctions for Gardeners", Joan Benjamin and Deborah Martin, editors: Mix one ounce of gin (or probably any other distilled alcohol, like vodka), one tablespoon of liquid soap, one ounce of vinegar, one quart of water. Mix 'em together and spray (or paint it) onto the plant you want to kill. Works best on a warm sunny day - spray in the midmorning for best effects. If the weed isn't dead by the next day, repeat spraying it with this mixture. (Judy Stouffer)

Mix in a spray bottle: white vinegar, a couple of teaspoons of soap and a couple of teaspoons of regular table salt. I sprayed this on dandelions and other assorted weeds growing in the gravel near the house last week and they began to shrivel up and turn brown in a few days. I think you need to be careful not to use too much salt spray in areas where you want other plants to grow. Plain vinegar (with some liquid soap added to make it adhere well) might work and it is definitely biodegradable. (Angel)

Get some 15% vinegar from an organic nursery and spraying it directly on the plant will kill just that plant. (JD Jackson)

Have any tips or tricks of your own you'd like to add to the list?
If you do, please email them to me.

Please don't write and ask if I have any info on any pests not covered above or for which there is no information for pests listed above - if I had such info, it would be on this page! Instead, check out the other websites listed above.

MSDS Online

The following sites have material safety data sheets available online. Some require you to know the name of the actual chemical while others may have cross references by product name and/or manufacturer name.

MSDS On The Net Links to a variety of online MSDS resources, software, etc.

Cornell University's MSDS On The Internet Not all manufacturers are represented here

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web MSDS and more...

University of Vermont's MSDS Archive

EPA Alert to Emergency Responders: Use Multiple Material Safety Data Sheets

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