It’s unfortunate that “pests” have to be controlled at all but below you will find tips to keep insects and mice at bay by using natural smells and products that will encourage them to find homes elsewhere, without killing them outright.

Ants

Ants have an aversion to the following products:

  • Cucumbers – leave a peel on a kitchen shelf to deter ants.
  • Mint leaves or cloves – either plant peppermint and clove around your house, or you can leave dry crushed leaves where the ants seem most active.
  • Cayenne pepper, citrus oil, lemon juice cinnamon or coffee grounds – create a small line of any of these ingredients and leave it across the ants point of entry. You can put the citrus oil or lemon juice on a string if need be. I have also read that sprinkling cinnamon around the foundation of your home will keep ants away!

Cockroaches

Catnip is safe repellent to cockroaches. The active ingredient is nepetalactone, which is non-toxic to humans and pets. Small sachets of catnip can be left in areas of cockroach activity. (Roaches generally like high places by the way.) The catnip can also be mixed with hot water to make a spray which can be used behind counters and around baseboards. Please do consider your cats if you have any – some cats are oblivious to catnip but others might be quite affected by this.

But don’t despair if you have cats! Bay leaves, cucumber slices and garlic are also known deterrents to roaches.

Flies

Basil is a natural insect repellent. Keep a pot in your kitchen or place small sachets around your home to discourage flies.

Bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus wrapped in small cheesecloth squares can be hung by open windows or doors. In fact even a few small drops of eucalyptus oil on a piece of absorbent cloth will deter the flies. This can be hung near rubbish bins and by open food.

Mosquitoes

Planting marigolds around your garden works as a natural bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects do not like.

If you are having a braai, throw a bit of sage or rosemary on the coals to repel mosquitoes.

An effective natural bug repellent, mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent that lasts up to 6 hours. Strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in this mixture and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent.

Garden pests in general

For garden pests, soak citrus rind (lemon, orange, grapefruit) in water for a few days. Pour the water into a pump bottle and spray on plants. Another mixture that deters insects without harming the plants is to mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil. Mix about 3 tablespoons of this concentrate with a quart of water in a pump bottle, and spray it on the plants.

Weevils

Bay leaves in your kitchen will keep pests away. A bay leaf in a container of flour, cornmeal or cereal will keep weevils out.

Moths

Mint tea bags can be used in your clothing drawers to repel moths.

Mice

Plant peppermint around your house to repel mice.

Fleas

Citrus is a natural flea deterrent. Pour a cup of boiling water over a sliced lemon. Include the lemon skin, scored to release more citrus oil. Let this mixture soak overnight, and sponge on your dog to kill fleas instantly.

Another simple flea deterent is to spray your pets with a lemongrass hydrosol or to mix a little bit of lemongrass essential oil in your pet shampoo. Cedar also repels fleas.

You can also add brewer’s yeast and garlic, or apple cider vinegar, to your pets’ food. However, it is not advisable to use raw garlic as a food supplement for cats.

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