Greener Alternatives to Common Pest Control Chemicals


Flea Sprays (Indoors):

  • Use products containing pyrethrins or diatomaceous earth.

Fly Repellant:

  • Mint plants set in window sills help to repel flies.
  • Seal all possible entrances.

Insect Bites/Stings:

  • The pain can be soothed by a thick paste of baking soda and water.
  • Half an onion applied to a bee (or wasp) sting helps to stop the pain.


  • To ease the pain and itching of chigger bites, rub with a moist aspirin tablet.
  • To treat insect bites, rub on apple cider vinegar to relieve the itching. A paste made of baking soda also helps.
  • To prevent insect bites, avoid wearing perfume, bright colors, flowery print clothes or bright jewelry.

Insecticides, Ant and Roach Killers, Weed Killers:

  • Strong hosing washes insects from plants.
  • Pull weeds instead of using herbicides.
  • Cover garden with plastic in fall to prevent weed germination.
  • If using, use up pesticides, rinse out containers, and use rinse water in pesticides mix solution.
  • Sprinkle cracks and baseboards of house with boric acid powder (Boric acid is acutely toxic to children and pets if ingested.)
  • Sprinkle equal parts of confectioner's sugar and Borax in dry areas where ants and cockroaches are found. Put only in places where pets and children can't reach.
  • Use diatomaceous earth to control fleas in the yard; use liberally.
  • To kill unwanted grass growing between sidewalk cracks, pour full-strength vinegar or salt on it.

Ants (in the house):

  • Pour a line of cream of tarter, red chili powder, paprika or dried peppermint at point of entry.
  • Caulk cracks where ants enter.
  • Sprinkle salt along baseboards, corners, entrances, etc.
  • Plug up point of entry with white glue.
  • Combine 90% op apple mint jelly and 10% boric acid, place small amounts at points of entry.
  • For heavy infestations, mix 1 tbsp. of sugar, and 1 tbsp. of Borax with 2 tbsp. of water to make a thick syrup. Soak cotton balls in mixture and place cotton balls on low lids or something flat so that ants can get to it. Place them in the middle of the ant infestations.Ants will eat it and take it back to the nest. Slowly but surely, the numbers will diminish. Have patience. Keep well out of reach of children and pets.
  • Mix 2 tbsp. boric acid, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 cup water.Soak paper towels, place on dishes, and set out for ants. Keep away from pets and children.


  • Place bay leaves around cracks in room.
  • Set out a dish of equal parts baking soda/powdered sugar; or oatmeal flour/plaster of paris; or chopped bay leaves/cucumber shins.
  • Put some grease or Vaseline on the inside of a jar that contains a banana. Set a tongue depressor near the jar to serve as a ramp.The cockroaches will be trapped in the jar.
  • Heloise's Famous Recipe:

1⁄4 cup shortening or bacon drippings
1/8 cup sugar
8 oz. Powdered boric acid
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄2 small onion, chopped (optional)
Enough water to form a soft dough.

Mix the shortening and sugar together until they form a creamy mixture. Mix together the boric acid, flour, and onion, then add to the shortening-and-sugar mixture. Blend well, and then add water to form a soft dough. Shape the mixture into small balls, or just label the bags clearly so that everyone in the house knows it's a roach lunch, and put it in out of the way places. When the dough gets hard, replace it.


  • As a first step, vacuum. Place a couple of mothballs into the vacuum cleaner bag. Remove the vacuum bag and seal the "catch" in a tightly closed bag. Dispose of it.
  • Feed pets brewer's yeast, vitamin B or garlic tablets.(The yeast apparently gives off an odor that fleas don't like.A general suggestion for amounts of brewer's yeast is a daily dose of 25 milligrams per 10 pounds of the animal's body weight.Note that Brewer's yeast given in large does or with dry food can cause the animal considerable intestinal discomfort.)
  • Make a flea trap by placing a light-colored shallow pan of soapy water on the floor next to a 25- watt lamp with the bulb about one or two feet above the water. Leave the lamp on overnight with no other lights on in the room. Fleas are attracted to light, will jump toward the heat, and fall into the pan of soapy water and die.
  • Use fennel, rosemary, red cedar shavings, sassafras, eucalyptus or pennyroyal leaves as flea repellent under and around the pet's bed.
  • Clean pet's sleeping area frequently and sprinkle with a few drops of oil of lavender.
  • Spread a thin mixture of 1⁄4 oz. vial of oil of lavender, and 4 cups of rock salt around perimeters of rugs, under chairs, mattresses and wherever fleas may be found. Check that pets are not licking the mixture.
  • Wash pets in soap and water, dry thoroughly, and apply an herbal rinse of 1⁄2 cup fresh or dried rosemary to 1 quart of boiling water which has been steeped for 20 minutes, and allowed to cool. Spray or sponge on pet and allow to air dry.


  • Prevent their development in organic wastes by keeping kitchen garbage in tightly closed containers. In warm weather, the average garbage p ail can produce 1000 + flies/week.
  • Sprinkle dry soap into garbage cans after they have been washed and allowed to dry; it acts as a repellent.
  • Use fly swatters, flypaper strips, or fly traps (for example, Fli-Lur). You can also make your own flypaper with honey and yellow paper.
  • Place screened enclosures over plants in the cabbage family to protect against the fly whose young is the cabbage maggot.
  • Plant pansies near your kitchen door or where flies tend to cluster.
  • Other fly repellents include oil of cloves and mint sprigs.
  • Set a sponge in a saucer and soak it with oil of lavender to repel flies.
  • Shape a piece of paper into a cone and insert it into the neck of a baited jar. Flies can get in but not out. Jars specifically designed for this purpose are also available for purchase in some stores.
  • A pot of basil set on a windowsill or table will help reduce the number of flies in a room. Keep it well watered from the bottom so that it will throw out plenty of scent.
  • Dried, ground leaves left in small bowls or hung in muslin bags are also effective.


  • Soak bites in salt water or apply a paste of salt mixed into lard, or cold cream.


  • Chicago-area weavers and spinners use 1⁄2 lb. Rosemary, 1⁄2 lb. Mint, 1⁄4 lb. Thyme, 1⁄4 lb. Ginseng (optional), and 2 tbsp. cloves. Mix and put in cheesecloth bags for use similar to a sachet.
  • Destroy all forms of the moths by washing garments; kill moth eggs by running articles through a warm clothes dryer.
  • Hang or place sachets on any of the following with stored clothes; dried lemon peels, dried lavender, bay leaves, whole cloves, cedar ships, dried rosemary and mint, or whole peppercorns.
  • Mix together a handful of each dried rosemary, sage, and mint. Add a little dried lemon peel and a pinch of cinnamon. Place in small muslin bags.
  • Wash pantry shelves periodically to deter "flour" moths (particularly those cabinets storing flour, noodles, rice and grains). Sprinkle with bay leaves, rosemary or cloves.
  • Keep all flours, etc. in sealed containers such as recycled glass jars.Use up contents and clean jars before refilling them.
  • To trap moths, mix 1 part molasses with 2 parts vinegar & place in a yellow container. Clean regularly.


  • Traps can be made with a mixture of 1 part molasses to 2 parts vinegar. Place near cracks and holes where the pests live. They can be repelled by treating baseboards, table legs, and cracks in cupboards with a mixture of Borax and sugar or honey.

Pet Care Products:

  • Give pets brewer's yeast or Vitamin B as a preventative.
  • Use herbal baths.
  • To control fleas on dogs and cats: bathe animals every 2 to 4 weeks with pet shampoos containing insect repellent herbs such as rosemary, ruse, eucalyptus, and citronella.
  • For fleas: place eucalyptus seeds and leaves around the area where your pet sleeps.
  • Brush your pet often (outside) with a flea comb.

Rat Killers:

  • Use traps baited with peanut butter and oatmeal.

Natural Controls for Pests:

  • Many insects despise the smell and taste of pepper.
  • Tape paper staples to a cylinder and placed around the base of the affected plant will deter many pests.
  • Wood ashes can deter borers that attach to trees - add enough water to form a paste and apply to the bottom of the tree.

Ants (outside the home):

  • Plant onions near beans to repel ants.
  • On lawns, use hormonal controls now available.
  • Band sticky, adhesive materials (some brand names are "Stickum" and Tanglefoot) around base of plants and trees to deter ants, which can carry and colonize aphids. Ants like the sweet secretions of aphids and protect them from natural enemies.
  • Border gardens with bone meal.
  • Put cucumber peels on an ant route and they will go away.

Fire Ants:

  • Put grits on mounds.


  • Some soap sprays are effective insecticides. It must be sprayed directly on the insect in order to penetrate its body. Mix 1 tsp. of liquid soap (not detergent) in a gallon of water. Try different soaps, some may be more effective than others. Use on aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, earwigs and some scales.
  • Crush colonies on plant tips, or prune them off.
  • Introduce ladybugs or lacewings, natural enemies of aphids.
  • Plant garlic, chives, petunias, and nasturtiums to repel aphids; but be aware that some plants (garlic, for instance) may inhibit the growth of certain vegetable plants.

Beetles, Bugs and Caterpillars:

  • Pick large insects off plants; drop in a can of soapy water.
  • Use a biological control containing bacillus thuriengensis (bt).
  • Use "stickum" made from 1 1⁄2 cups of rosin (from athletic store).
  • 1 cup linseed oil, 1 tbsp. melted paraffin, painted around tree trunks.
  • For Japanese beetles: open a can of fruit cocktail and put it in the sun - but out of the rain - to ferment for about a week. Put the can on a stack of bricks inside a yellow colored pail or dishpan. Place the pail or pan about 25 feet away from the plants to be protected and fill it with water to a level that's just below the fruit cocktail can. The beetles will feast on the fruit and then drown in the water. If rain dilutes their "beetle buffet", you'll have to replace it because beetles like it potent.

Cabbage Worms:

  • Plant rosemary, thyme or hyssop.
  • Cover plants with cheesecloth to keep adult butterflies from laying eggs.
  • Sprinkle rye flour over and around plants when covered with dew.
  • Use a biological control containing bacillus thuriengensis (bt).


  • To keep cats form spraying plants: scatter lemon, grapefruit and orange peels near plants that need protection.

Cucumber Beetles:

  • Plant tansy to repel beetles.

Cutworms, Cabbage Loopers, Tent Caterpillars, Gypsy Moths:

  • Use a biological control containing bacillus thuriengensis (bt)
  • Smash egg masses of gypsy moths.
  • Sink bottomless paper cups around seedlings to block cutworms.


  • In a blender, combine 1 cup water, five garlic cloves, and six large hot peppers. Blend thoroughly, then strain and pour the mixture into a spray bottle that holds two cups of water. Apply liberally whenever needed.


  • To keep puppies away from houseplants: rub the leaves and stalks with a cotton ball saturated in hot pepper sauce.

Flea Beetles:

  • Plant catnip in border to repel them.

Harlequin Bugs:

  • Plant radishes, turnips, or mustard greens around cabbage to attract them.

Japanese Beetle:

  • Plant repellent herbs (garlic, rue, tansy) near roses and raspberries.
  • Plant soybeans, zinnias, or white rose near other crops to attract them.


  • Radishes lure them away from sprouting corn and cabbage.

Mealy Bugs, Thrips, Lice, Red Spider Mites:

  • Spray plants with soapy water, rinse off dead bugs.
  • Swab mealies with rubbing alcohol.
  • Order green lacewing adults and larvae; "defatted" ladybug adults and larvae from garden store.
  • Mix four tablespoons of dishwashing liquid or 1⁄2 cake of dissolved yellow soap in one gallon of water. Spray plants weekly until mites are gone and then monthly to keep them from returning.

Mexican Bean Beetles:

  • Plant potatoes nearby to lure them away; rosemary/summer savoy repels them.

Millipedes, Wireworms:

  • Punch holes in sides/bottom of tall can, bury upright in garden border, and fill with carrot/potato peelings, empty weekly.


  • Eliminate all sources of standing water, or pour a film of salad oil on all water surfaces.
  • Rub citronella oil on exposed skin area, or burn citronella candles.
  • Do not eliminate such natural predators as dragon flies or the praying mantis.
  • Other natural repellents are pennyroyal, mint rubbed on the skin, or tansy planted near a door. Basil plants also repel mosquitoes.


  • Marigolds give off chemicals which repel nematodes.

Onion Flies:

  • Plant onion "sets", not seeds.


  • Plant bush squash near cantaloupes and cucumbers. Worms gather on squash for easy killing.

Slugs, Snails:

  • Sink shallow pans of beer or vinegar at soil level.
  • Lay cabbage leaves or boards between rows: snails will hide underneath during day. Collect and destroy.
  • Remove litter and trim grass around garden, the places where they hide and feed.

Sowbugs, Earwigs:

  • Remove their hiding places - piles of plant material, boards, bricks, large rocks.

Tomato Worms:

  • Plant asparagus or borage near tomatoes to repel them.
  • Dill attracts tomato worms.

Whiteflies (on Houseplants):

  • Hang yellow strips of cardboard coated with "stickum".