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How to Get Rid of Bugs Organically

Safe, effective and simple – pest control at its very best.

Yellow Sticky TrapThe more we discover about synthetic pesticides, herbicides and insecticides the more we learn how unhealthy they are for the environment and the people and animals that live in it. Pesticides can create more problems than they solve.

Spraying garden chemicals to get rid of bugs and weeds not only cause health risks, they often aren’t even that effective. Initially, they will kill off a lot of pests, but eventually these pests can develop resistance to the pesticide and come back even stronger. Another problem is the side effects many synthetic pesticides can have on unintended targets (think of DDT and birds).

The best plan is to avoid the need to use pest control in the first place by starting with healthy fertile soil, matching your plants to the soil type, ensuring proper sunlight levels and watering conditions, and using appropriate organic fertilization and pruning, when necessary. But, if that doesn’t work there are many alternatives to chemical pesticides that can reduce pests while leaving a healthy environment for your plants, pets and family.

At Planet Natural we offer a large selection of natural and organic pest control solutions that are guaranteed SAFE and effective. From beneficial insects to botanical sprays, we only carry the best. Also, visit our Pest Problem Solver for pest pictures, descriptions and a complete list of earth-friendly remedies.

Barriers & Repellents

Barriers and repellents help keep bugs out of the garden. They can act like a wall preventing crawling insects from accessing your home or vegetables. For example, by planting carrots in toilet paper rolls cutworms can’t get to them. Plants can provide a living barrier to insects, too. Peppermint, spearmint and pennyroyal naturally deter aphids and ants, so plant them throughout your garden and these pests will stay away.

Just say NO to pesticides! Tree Tanglefoot is an effective sticky barrier for use against crawling insects. Problem pests cannot cross the sticky glue and become trapped without escape. Best of all, it works without toxins!

Simmering cedar twigs in water and then pouring the (cooled) water over plants will deter cutworms, corn earworms and other pests. Snails won’t cross a line of lime, just as ants avoid cayenne pepper or iron phosphate — a natural inorganic material widely used as a nutritional supplement — keeps slugs at bay.

In addition to the many “do it yourself” pest remedies, you can purchase organic pest control products that work on just about anything lurking around the garden or home.

Beneficial Insects

Lady beetles, green lacewings and praying mantis are but a few of the beneficial insects that will prey on the garden pests you don’t want. These “good” bugs can be lured into the garden with attractive habitat (food, shelter and water) or they can be purchased and released into the garden — you’ll still need a healthy habitat for them to survive.

There are many reasons to introduce beneficial bugs into your garden. Over the long term, they are safer and more effective than chemicals, but you’ll need to do a little research first to determine what your specific pest problem is and which beneficial insects to enlist to help. Luckily, the Internet provides a wealth of resources, as does your local extension service.

Biological Pest Control

Naturally occurring insect diseases caused by protozoa, bacteria, fungi and viruses, biological pest controls are effective against their target insects but are nontoxic to humans, pets, wildlife and beneficial insects. They are also less likely to build pest resistance than chemical pesticides and they break down quickly in the environment.

One of the better-known biological pesticides is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is often used against leaf and needle feeding caterpillars. This bacterium is found naturally in soils around the world and paralyzes the digestive tracts of the insects that eat it.

Approved for organic gardening, Monterey Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a naturally occurring soil bacteria ideal for controlling cabbageworm, tent caterpillars, gypsy moth, tomato hornworm and other leaf eating caterpillars. Will NOT harm people, pets, birds, honeybees or beneficial insects.

Spinosad is an insecticide derived from the bacteria Saccharopolyspora spinosa and can be used as an alternative to malathion sprays. Spinosad has been found to kill medflies, but not the predators that eat them, and it is approved for use on food crops. It also helps control thrips, caterpillars, leafminers, fruit flies, borers, and much more.

A third (of many) biological pest controls is milky spore powder which targets the white grubs of Japanese beetles. When the grubs come to the surface of the lawn to feed (usually July or August) they ingest the bacteria. These milky spores germinate and multiply inside the grub, killing it.

Home Pest Control

Inside the home is probably where most people are concerned about what sort of pest control they use. Choosing an organic way to get rid of fleas, roaches, mice and other creatures will help keep your family and pets healthy and safe.

Boric acid powder acts as a stomach poison to insects and can be used to control cockroaches, ants, termites, and many other household pests. When these insects walk through it, the boric acid sticks to their legs and is carried back to the colony. The fine powder is ingested as the insects groom each other. Boric acid is less toxic to humans and pets than table salt.

Tip: Make your own ant bait by mixing 2 Tbsp boric acid powder with one 8 oz. jar of mint jelly. Place the bait on small cardboard squares and position these “bait stations” in areas where pests are noticed.

Mice can be caught in either live or snap traps. It is best to set these along the edge of a wall (not in the middle of the room) where the rodents are likely to travel. If you choose a live or humane mouse trap, be sure not to contact the mouse and take it far from your home — and not near someone else’s!

To get rid of fleas you’ll need to treat the host (your cat or dog), the house and the yard. Here’s how:

  1. A citrus repellent can be made by boiling lemons and letting it sit overnight. The next day, spray your pet down.
  2. For the home, sprinkle regular table salt or boric acid (test for color fastness) over the carpet, let sit overnight and vacuum the next day. Wash all pet bedding in hot water, adding eucalyptus oil to the final rinse.
  3. In the yard, diatomaceous earth can be applied to all pet resting areas or wherever fleas are suspected.

St. Gabriel Organics® Insect Dust is made from 100% Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth and kills household and garden pests — fleas, ticks, ants, cockroaches, slugs, bed bugs and more — within 48 hours of contact.

Traps & Lures

Everyone is familiar with the common mouse trap — the one with the big hunk of cheese that shows up in cartoons. But, traps can be used to catch insects as well as mammals.

Traps use visual lures, pheromones or food to attract pests and capture them, without hurting other insects, animals or the environment.

Traps can either be used to monitor or control a population. When monitoring a population, insect traps can help determine when the insect emerges, how many there are and other information important in deciding what to do about a specific pest.

Traps used to control a population do just that — they capture insects or rodents and (usually) kill them. Sometimes traps alone can take care of your pest problem, other times they are best used in conjunction with another pest management tool. For example, fly traps work well to attract and trap adult flies while fly parasites attack immature fly pupae.

Natural Pesticides

Natural insecticides are generally botanical, meaning they are derived from plants that have insecticidal properties. Compared to chemical pesticides they have fewer toxic effects and break down much more quickly in the environment. However, they are still poisons so only indulge as a last resort.

Botanical Insecticide Use Against
Neem caterpillars, gypsy moth, leaf miner, loopers, mealybug, thrips, whitefly
Nicotine Sulfate aphids, spider mites, thrips and other sucking insects
Pyrethrum aphid, cabbageworm, flea beetle, flies, harlequin bug, leafhopper, Mexican bean beetle, spider mite, squash bug
Rotenone aphid, cabbage worm, carpenter ant, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetle, flea beetle, fleas, Japanese beetle, loopers, Mexican bean beetle, mites, spittlebug
Ryania aphid, codling moth, corn earworm, oriental fruit moth, thrips
Sabadilla armyworm, blister beetle, cabbage looper, cucumber beetle, harlequin bug, leafhopper, stink bug

As mentioned above, you’ll need to do a little research before selecting an insecticide so you know specifically which one to choose. Apply all these pesticides locally — do not blanket spray the whole garden — to minimize their risk.

If you are trying to get or keep organic certification be sure to check the  or the  for a list of materials approved for organic use in the United States. Planet Natural also maintains a list of organic products — all OMRI Listed — offered on their website.

Soaps and Oils

Insecticidal soaps and oils are most effective on soft-bodied, sucking insects such as aphids, spider mites, whitefly and mealybugs. While less effective against many hard-shelled, adult insects (such as beetles), they can be used to control their immature larval stages and eggs. As a result, timing the application is an important factor when using these natural insecticides.

The fatty acids in Insecticidal Soap (this is not the same thing as dish soap) penetrate the insect’s outer covering and cause the cells to collapse, thereby killing the pest. It must be applied directly to the insect and will not be effective once it is dry. Insecticidal soap is considered a least-toxic pesticide and will not harm beneficial insects such as praying mantis and ladybugs.

100% organic. Safer® Insecticidal Soap is made from naturally occurring plant oils and animal fats. Penetrates the protective outer shell of soft bodied insect pests and causes dehydration and death within hours.

Horticultural oil is a highly refined paraffinic oil, that once mixed with water is sprayed on plant foliage. It works by coating and suffocating insect pests and their eggs and can be used throughout the year as both a dormant and growing season spray.

d-Limonene, made from the oil extracted from citrus rind, is a relatively new organic insecticide that works by destroying the waxy coating of an insect’s respiratory system. Ideal for use in the kitchen and around the home, d-Limonene can be used to combat fleas, ants and cockroaches. In a recent study, d-Limonene (found in Orange Guard) was shown to reduce cockroach populations more effectively than Dursban, the toxic ingredient in Raid®.

Note: d-Limonene is approved by the FDA as a food additive, and is found in products such as fruit cakes, cleaners, air fresheners and pet shampoos.

Fungicides

Often plant diseases can be avoided by ensuring good draining soil and adequate air movement. But, when that doesn’t work and your plants start to show signs of rust, moldy coatings, blotches, wilting, scabs and rotted tissue it’s time to apply a fungicide.

Tip: Visit our page on Plant Diseases for help identifying some of the more common disease fungi affecting vegetables, flowers, trees and turf. Chock-full of information, we provide pictures and descriptions, plus a complete list of earth-friendly remedies for combatting them.

Sulfur and copper are two broad spectrum organic fungicides that have low toxicity to animals, including humans. However, you still need to exercise caution and read the instructions before applying them. It’s also important to respect their temperature limitations.

Sulfur Fungicide is a finely ground wettable powder that can be used on fruits, vegetables and flowers. The extremely fine particle size provides better coverage and adhesion over fruit and leaf surfaces, resulting in greater efficiency. Sulfur Plant Fungicide is effective against powdery mildew, rust, scab, brown rot and much more. Do NOT apply during periods of high temperature or within two weeks of an oil spray as burning may occur.

Copper Fungicide can be used on vegetables, roses, fruits and turf. For best results it should be applied before the disease is visible or when it is first noticed on the plant. Liquid Copper Fungicide is effective against peach leaf curl, powdery mildew, black spot, rust, anthracnose, fire blight and bacterial leaf spot and is approved for organic gardening. Spray all plant parts thoroughly, and repeat every 7-10 days.

A new broad spectrum bio-fungicide that is approved for use in organic production is known as Serenade Garden Disease Control. Containing a strain of Bacillus subtilis, it provides protection against many of the most common fungal and bacterial diseases, including bacterial leaf blight, botrytis, early blight, fire blight, late blight, powdery mildew and scab. For best results, treat prior to disease development or at the first sign of disease infection. Repeat at 7-day intervals or as needed.

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40 Responses to “How to Get Rid of Bugs Organically”

  1. Betty L Helsel on January 19th, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Hello, and thank you for this site. I am highly allergic to bee sting. Is there anything I can do to lower my risk of death in my yard during the spring and summer. I live in northern Arizona. Thank you again for any assistance.

    • pnatural on January 19th, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Betty – This page on yellow jacket control (https://culturestone.info/pest-problem-solver/lawn-pests/yellow-jacket-control/) is found right here on the blog. While we can’t help with your allergic reactions… we can reduce your chance of getting stung. If we come across anything else we’ll be sure to let you know.

    • irene on June 6th, 2016 at 8:25 am #

      Call your county extension office. They will come get the bees or have a bee keeper come get them!

  2. Nathan Copeland on March 3rd, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    This is a great post. I wish I had known about salt to get rid of fleas, will it work on bed bugs? My parents had an infestation last year, it would be nice to be prepared in case it happens again.

    • Hilary Day on August 27th, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      I’ve used “food grade” diatomaceous to get ride of bed bugs overnight! I put the fine white powder in a sock and lightly dusted the bed sheets. Just take care not to breathe it as you are dusting. A dust mask is advisable. You can also dust behind furniture and directly on rugs and carpets. It will also eliminate ants and other insects. Cedar oil is also very effective. I’ve purchased that from a company called Cedarcide, which you can find on line. Good luck!

  3. Tina on June 20th, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    I would like to know how to get info on getting rid of infestations on green beans

  4. Lisa on December 19th, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    What do you suggest using for mole crickets? They are destroying my grass.

  5. Zadi Ankit on March 29th, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    Thanks for the great info! Using beneficial insects in to get rid of garden pests is a wonderful idea.
    Thumbs up!

  6. Thom Foote on April 6th, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    If you pests on your plants then your plants are not healthy. Healthy plants will create conditions that pests will not like. Check out biological gardening.

  7. Shekhar Agarwal on April 16th, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Dear sir –
    I have an ongoing organic tea garden on conversion process.
    I m suffering from a mosquito bug name hellopaltis.
    Please send your valuable suggestions to control this insect.

    Thnx, Shekhar Agarwal

  8. Sandra on May 12th, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Any suggestions on how to rid myself of the new Asian stink bug. Wow!! Tried everything. Nothing kills these creatures!! They live forever. We are inundated with them on the east coast especially where we have a heavy crop area. I am in VA. Live on acre and half, fair amt of trees. Attack my vegetable garden every year; love tomatoes! Get in house and hibernate during winter and somehow multiply by thousands! Perplexed what that are living off of during this time???? Help?

    • entomoligist on December 20th, 2015 at 11:49 am #

      Mint leaves and peppermint leaves are a natural organic item that keeps beetles, roach family type insects, on the move.

    • Katie N on May 21st, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      I have had the same problem. I moved to nc last year from FL and had never seen them. They’re worse in fall than spring for us but keeping curtains up, making sure windows are sealed, and that the screens are intact will help a ton. I’ve also heard that mint keeps them at bay but haven’t had many issues with them in my garden.

  9. Lindsay on May 28th, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Hi, I live in HI and have a vegetable garden with tomatoes (in pots), carrots (in a pot), green beans (in the ground), garlic (in hanging pots) and peas (in the ground). My peas and green beans grow fast and harvest a lot, but the leaves look super yellow as they grow taller and then they just die. Is that normal after 1 harvest? The garlic has these tiny itty bitty black bugs with 6 legs. The garlic sprouts fine, but dies before harvest. My tomatoes generally do pretty good, in a pot (hanging or on the ground), but spiders seem to make webs connected to them. Is that OK or will they eat them? All of them have ants and little roach looking bugs crawl on the stuff on or in the ground…is there anything I can do that’ll get rid of them, but safe for us to eat the vegetables? Sorry I know that’s a lot. Any help is greatly appreciated! :-)

  10. chris on June 5th, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    will cayenne pepper spray get rid of leaf miners on my tomatos?

  11. Di Almond on June 16th, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Each evening, what look like cedar beetles crawl across my living room floor and I squash them. As many as 5 or 6 a night, spaced several minutes apart. Tonight one flew at me! I never see where they come from, just see them crawling, and I’m getting really creeped out. What can I do? I live in a wooded suburban area of Norh Carolina.

  12. Mary on June 20th, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    My husband has sprayed the grass for the white grubs. On raised gardens close by where he sprayed. I mean a distance of a foot. I have pepper and tomato plants. How safe will they be,they are still at the flowering stage.

    • Kenda Swartz on June 1st, 2016 at 8:29 am #

      Hopefully you didn’t eat those plants if your husband sprayed with a synthetic pesticide. The drift could go for hundreds of yards – miles depending on the breeze and temperature. This is why these chemicals are so bad for us all. Hopefully your husband has since found an alternative method to eliminate white grubs. Ridding one’s home of pests is never worth the cost of human health let alone all the beneficial insects and wildlife that could take care of the problem naturally.

  13. Nancy on August 1st, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    It appears that our lawn has something similar to lawn moths. I have dogs that eat the grass so I need a pet safe remedy for getting rid of the lawn moths. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  14. Peggy-Jean on September 13th, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    New to growing orchids. Have only one. It has been busy growing air roots. Now it has a flowery stem growing. Picked it up to water & found out it is infested with ants. I’m trying the “cyanne” pepper to see what happens. Thanks for the site.

  15. Gabriel Hawes on October 15th, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    Exactly Dig, homemade pesticides are very effective and cheaper than the market products. The important thing is they are not harmful to the environment or people. I mostly use Garlic, Pepper and Onion as an Insecticide to save my garden plants from insects.

  16. Kenneth Lee on March 27th, 2015 at 1:09 am #

    Hi,

    In my back yard i have a number of annoying bugs like flies, moths, mosquitos and spiders and some crawling bugs. I don’t have plants but i like to bbq and all the bugs are discouraging. Any suggestions?

  17. cindy b on April 15th, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    What can I use to get rid of frogs big frogs. My neighbor is not the cleanest. So I would need to use something to cover a very large area. Any help is great….yard is infested with fleas also. HELP…..

  18. Action Property Inspections on May 20th, 2015 at 6:14 am #

    Great post thank you! Its certainly great to have more of a safer option to get rid of all the pests.

  19. Andy on November 13th, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    I have this little container garden started (). Sorry for the bad picture of the whole thing, it’s morning and the light comes from the other side. :(

    I’ve had one incident of spider mites on my Thai basil but I’ve been spraying it with soapy water every morning and it seems the mites have lost the battle. I noticed that my tomato has some pest spots on it, I cant see any bugs (though I’ll keep an eye on it) but it got me thinking of what I could do to keep my little garden pest free. Are there preventative measures? They’re located on my porch that is on a big patio area between 2 units of the apartment. They get plenty of good direct sunlight but because it’s a closed off area, there aren’t any predatory bugs (like praying mantis or lady bugs) to help keep them strong. I’d like to keep it as organic as possible.

    Oh! And I’ve never had a tomato of my own before, should I prune those little shoots at the bottom? (And don’t worry I plan to re-pot the poor thing this weekend into a nice 5 gallon tub.)

    • Jerry on November 13th, 2015 at 6:01 am #

      I have a container garden as well. I use beneficial nematodes to control fungus gnats and flies.

      Neither will do much harm to established plants (in fact, flies are a minor pollinator & fungus gnats eat fungus that grows on the soil), but it is gross to walk outside and be swarmed by flies. I swear by beneficial nematodes now.

      I also find a wide mouth bowl with vinegar and a bit of soap and a splash of water works wonders for luring & trapping adult fungus gnats & flies. The soap is important because it breaks the surface tension of the vinegar.

      You can buy ladybugs & predatory bugs online as well if you really want some bugbros around. Hope It Helps.

      BTW Eric Awesome Website. Learnt lot from it :)

  20. Angel on January 23rd, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    Earwigs in my house. What do I do?

  21. Sherrell on June 12th, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Seems like our yard has a lot of webs lately. Any suggestions?

  22. Sue on June 29th, 2016 at 9:56 am #

    How can I get rid of termites in my garden? They destroyed my kale, are attacking the corn, and I bet they are planning their next invasion as I type.

    I was doubtful about them being termites, but they definitely are. I want them gone asap, but I also want to save our veggies if at all possible.
    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!!

    • E. Vinje on June 29th, 2016 at 10:01 am #

      Sue –

      I think you’re having trouble with earwigs, not termites. However, you seem pretty certain, so I’ve included links to both control pages.

      https://culturestone.info/pest-problem-solver/garden-pests/earwig-control/
      https://culturestone.info/pest-problem-solver/household-pests/termite-control/

      Hope it helps!

      • Sue on June 29th, 2016 at 10:22 am #

        Thanks for the fast reply!!
        This a photo I took with my phone-dug one of them up. Can you please clarify for me?
        Do you have a recommendation as to what I can safely use on my veggie gardens and how to apply it?

        Thanks

        • E. Vinje on June 30th, 2016 at 6:08 am #

          Well Sue…that’s a termite! I was under the impression that termites only ate wood/ cellulose, but after a quick Google search I’ve found that they will also feed on plant roots. In fact, multiple gardeners are commenting on the same problem that you’re having.

          Try burying strips of cardboard soaked in boric acid as a possible remedy for termites in your garden. They will eat the cardboard “bait” and the boric acid will kill them. Some growers have also seen good results when applying beneficial nematodes over the area.

          Good luck!

  23. Georgia Boothe on October 27th, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    I love that there are organic options to keeping the garden pest free! My mom has always made home remedies to keep bugs off her plants (and she was a big fan of boric acid within her home!), but I never had the patience to come up with my own homemade products. After reading this article, I’ve done a little research and found some great organic pest control products that I think will fit my needs!

  24. Kathy on August 9th, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

    I have been using a boric acid with a lure in it. I live in an apartment building — it seems like it’s hard to get rid of roaches. I also have to be carefully I have two cats. Is there anything else I can use? I make sure to bag up my garbage in containers and zip lock bags to throw away.

  25. Daniel on October 27th, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Hello, I work for an organic food packaging facility and have been working diligently on solving a large scale infestation problem with what we believe to be grain beetles/warehouse beetles/weevils, and flour beetles. Do you know of any long term and or fast acting solutions to this infestation problem that would not interfere with our day to day operations?

    We have an 8 hour window every night from 10PM-6AM in order for us to sanitize and organize our product, and I believe this would be an opportune time to address the bug issue. Any products you’d recommend or even any fogging procedures you might try yourself?

    I’d be greatly humbled to have this issue resolved. We’ve tried freezing them and fogging them however they always seem to come back stronger than before. This has resulted in countless loads being returned to our facilities.

    Please let me know if you have any solutions.

    FYI, we have been using EVERGREEN as our organic solution however, little progress has been made with it.

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