Homemade Insect Repellants (Day 15 & 16 of 30 DTABG)

Oh those pesky pests. They can be insatiable sometimes, can’t they? We don’t have too bad a time with them, but from time to time we do fall victim (remember that horrible aphid/kale disaster we had last year? or the aphids and cabbage worm infestation?) Now in the ideal organic garden, the beneficial insects take care of most of the bad bugs. And the few bad bugs they don’t get don’t do too much harm because by growing organically, you are growing strong healthy plants that don’t fall prey to those insects. But this is real life and sometimes your garden won’t be the garden of Eden, so you need to call in back up. If you are like me, when you see large infestation of aphids, earwigs, cabbage worms and other bugs, there is a very strong temptation to just obliterate the area with the most toxic stuff you can find. However I’ve found some great recipes for homemade insect repellents.

Garlic Pest Control Spray
Many cultures around the world have used garlic as a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal remedy. When garlic is combined with mineral oil and soap, it becomes a very effective pest control product. However, when it is sprayed, it is not a selective insecticide. It can be used to control cabbage worm, leaf hoppers, squash bugs, white fly, but will also affect beneficial insects so be careful where and when you apply this product.

3 ounces finely chopped garlic
2 tsp mineral oil
1 pint water
¼ ounce garden safe soap

Allow the garlic to soak in the mineral oil for 24 hours. Add water and garden safe soap. Stir well and strain into a glass jar for storage. This is your concentrate. To use: Combine 1-2 tablespoons of concentrate in 1 pint of water to make the spray. Do be careful not to make the solution too strong. While garlic is safe for humans, when combined with oil & soap, the mixture can cause leaf injury on sensitive plants. Always test the lower leaves of plants first to make sure they aren’t affected.

Dormant Oil
The purpose of an oily spray is to suffocate over wintering pests, such as aphids and mites. Most commercial products are made of kerosene or other petroleum oil. A much less toxic and more sustainable approach is to use a renewable resource such as vegetable oil.

1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp garden friendly liquid soap
1 gallon water

Combine the soap and oil and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the water a bit at a time, stirring as you go (water and oil don’t really emulsify; the soap helps the process). Pour the mixture into a clean garden spray container. Spray a coat of the mixture over the entire plant. Shake the container frequently as you are spraying. This recipe makes 1 gallon.

Homemade Insecticidal Soap
Soap has been used for centuries as an all-purpose pesticide. It disrupts insects’ cell membranes, and kills pests by dehydration. The key is not to use too much soap, or you’ll also kill the vegetation near the pests. If you follow the proportions of soap to water in the Soap Spray recipe, below, the vegetation should be fine.

1 to 2 tablespoons garden safe soap (not detergent)
1 quart water

Combine ingredients in a bucket, mix, then transfer to a spray bottle as needed.

All Purpose Pesticide Soap Spray
Strong smelling roots and spices such as garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, rhubarb leaves, cayenne and other hot peppers, are all known to repel insects.

A handful of roots and spices
Boiling water to cover the roots and spices
Insecticidal Soap Spray (recipe, above)

Add the roots and spices to the bottom of a mason jar. Cover with the boiling water, screw on the top, and let set overnight. Strain, and add to the Soap Spray. Note that this will rot, so use it all up or freeze leftovers for another time. Place into a spray bottle and apply to the plants to control pests.

Want to read about more homemade insect repellents, here’s more:

  1. Natural Aphid Repellant Recipes
  2. Easy Earwig Trap
  3. Another Earwig Repellant using Diatomaceous Earth DE Crawling Insect Killer – 1.5 lbs which you can buy online.

Have you found an effective natural bug repellent?

p.s. sorry for cheating and combining two days into one, I got caught up in helping Scott rebuild our perimeter fence today. What a yucky job!


Filed under 30 Days to a Better Garden, Bad Bugs, Good Bugs

16 responses to “Homemade Insect Repellants (Day 15 & 16 of 30 DTABG)

  1. Kim

    Thank you so much for all the information that you are giving. I find it very helpful as I tend to my first garden.

  2. Jenn

    I had ants invading my garden (especially the strawberries). I tried putting a few drops of peppermint oil/extract into my spray bottle of soapy water. It seems to have helped.

  3. Yay! This is soooo helpful. I am totally new at dealing with pests (this year was my first), so I’m always on the lookout for homemade solutions to the pest problem!

  4. thanks for these tips – i tried the garlic one and it worked! i have ants too so i’m gonna attack them with the peppermint oil 🙂

  5. Thanks for the good information. Day by day insects are becoming a colossal problem for human world as they are the carriers of harmful diseases. In order to get prevention from such diseases we have to take some preventive measures earlier. circumstances. It is better to use a natural bug repellent.

  6. bellamadris

    First of all… LOVE the new banner – you always impress me my dear friend!

    Second – the garlic spray is the bomb! We moved a big boulder/rock in our garden and apparently there was an ant nest underneath – well needless to say after completely freaking out because within seconds they were crawling all over me I grabbed the garlic spray and took care of them. I didn’t necessarily want to kill all of them- just get them under control and roll the boulder back over their home and it worked beautifully!

    • asonomagarden

      Hey Julie, I’m glad the garlic spray worked for you! Ants totally freak me out when I see them in masses. I don’t know why, but they do…especially when they are crawling on me!

  7. Sounds great for the garden. I’m looking for a homemade insect repellent for people to wear. Any ideas? Guess I could just eat all the garlic I harvested. 😉

  8. This very useful DIY stuff I can use for my garden. I want bugs out of my garden. Yeah, definitely. 😉

  9. Barbara

    I just found out about your website from my niece in San Diego and I live in Vineburg! I’ve been scanning material for about 15 minutes and I’ve bookmarked you. Expect I’ll be referring to you over and over. I’m really enjoying my Japanese cucumbers this year. Lots of Osunomono! They’re very long and prickly, but sometimes they coil around the drip lines and look like curly fries. I’ve had a hard time with aphids in our artichoke plants, but last night tried soapy water spray. Going out right now to look at the results. If no improvement I’m going to try your peppermint solution.

    Thanks for the great garden site!

  10. Neil John

    Thank you this will help allot in our investigatory project
    †god bless†

  11. david

    Have you tried tobacco dust?

  12. I’ve been searching for information of homemade insect repellants for a schoold project. Thanks for your recipes here.

  13. Pingback: Four Years of Junes : 30 Days to a Better Garden Revisited | A Sonoma Garden

  14. Pingback: Homemade Insect Repellents | Our Urban FarmOur Urban Farm

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