Summer is fun, but warmer weather often invites pests (like mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and ants) that can ruin any hike or barbeque. Don't act too quickly, though! The harsh chemicals in pesticides hurt pollinators like bees and other beneficial insects, so it's best to avoid using those and opt for more environmentally-friendly methods of pest control.
Here are a few simple and green ways you can keep pests at bay this summer:
1. Block Entry
Pests can easily enter a home through doors and windows, so keep entryways closed when possible and make sure linings are intact. If you have persistent issues with ants or other insects coming in through windows or cracks, try creating a barrier with petroleum jelly.
If you're planning to head out for a hike, consider wearing long socks, pants, and sleeves. Not only will the layers help guard you from too much sun, but it's also the easiest way to keep away chiggers and ticks. Even then, some of us have been known to duct tape our pant legs while in the field as an extra barrier. Chiggers are the worst!
2. Use Natural Pest Repellents
Lemon eucalyptus oil is a natural repellent. You can use the oil alone or mix it with other oils like sunflower oil or witch hazel. 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil to every 10 parts of the other oil.
Cucumber peels are said to be a natural repellent for ants - placing slices near cracks or other entryways is a great way to fend them off in the summer months.
3. Keep It Clean
Wipe your counters, sweep floors, and avoid leaving food out that might tempt critters! If you're having issues with ants in your pet dishes, try creating a barrier around the dish with petroleum jelly - much like the window tip above. Pests like ants leave a trail between their nests and food sources for their buddies back home to follow. You can eliminate trails by washing surfaces with a vinegar-based cleanser (1/4 cup of vinegar, 2 cups of water). This applies to your car and campsites, too!
4. Avoid Moisture
Lots of insects like to lay their eggs in standing water. Take a look around your house and see if there's standing water you haven't noticed before. Culprits could be old water glasses, excess water from near potted plants, sinks, tubs, or any sort of container left outside. Remove the water! Taking away the breeding grounds is your first step towards success.
Water is sometimes unavoidable. Perhaps you're planning a paddle trip, for example. The same rules apply in this scenario. Pick lunch spots and camping sites that are near steady moving water rather than stagnant water. This will decrease the number of bugs... though you should still follow tips 1-3.
5. Yard Work
Keep your yard and gardens managed to avoid excessive overgrowth. Give special attention to the plants growing against your house. Keeping those well-trimmed will make it harder for pests to crawl up into your home.