Now that summer is in full force, all kinds of creepy crawlies are back in our lives. Unfortunately, traditional pest repellents are filled with toxic chemicals that are dangerous to you and your family (children and pregnant women are especially susceptible). Pyrethroids and pyrethrins are of particular concern – these are the primary ingredients in most household pesticides (contained in over 3,500 registered products!).
At a minimum, these chemicals cause dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches, and on a more serious level, they have been linked to thyroid and liver cancers, male reproductive damage including lower testosterone levels and reduced fertility, as well as negatively impacting the brain and nervous system. Scientists are currently exploring if these chemicals are linked to the dramatic increases in autism, breast cancer, prostate cancer, hyperactivity, diabetes, and obesity.
Propoxur, another common pesticide, also causes nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and muscle weakness, but more importantly, it damages DNA and has a negative impact on fetal growth. Overall, exposure to common household pesticides more than doubles a child’s risk of developing neuroblastoma, rare types of brain tumors, and leukemia, as well as give children a three to seven-fold higher chance of developing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
That’s reason enough for us to start hunting down some natural pest repellents, and lucky for you, we have our top 5 natural pest repellents to share with you today!
Many bugs, especially spiders, hate peppermint. So of course, peppermint is a fabulous natural pest repellent! Simply take 2 teaspoons of peppermint oil (like this peppermint oil from Now Foods) and combine with one cup of water, and mix in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around the foundation of your house, as well as the windows – these are the places insects use to creep inside your home. You can also spray it inside your home in corners and along floorboards. Spray as often as necessary.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a potent natural pest repellent. Made from the remains of fossilized plankton, DE is a powdery substance that is effective on any pests with an exoskeleton (think: ants, beetles, etc.). Even though the DE looks soft and powdery, the actual components (broken down fossils) are microscopically sharp. The sharp particles puncture the exoskeletons of pests, killing the insects. It can be sprinkled around your home, and in any places where insects are gathering.
DE is also safe for children and pets – just take special care that the DE dust is not breathed in and does not get into the eyes. Also: be sure to purchase food grade DE, and not the DE used in chlorinated pools. The pool version is known to be carcinogenic, whereas the food grade DE is safe. GreenSense offers food grade diatomaceous earth at a great value.
Cinnamon is one of our favorite natural pest repellents. A great way to use cinnamon to keep ants away is by mixing it in sandbox sand! The sandbox will smell like Christmas, AND the ants will be far, far away from the sandbox. Cinnamon is also a deterrent for grain moths and weevils. Add a cinnamon stick into your flours, pastas, and other grains to keep the pests away – this method works without even altering the flavor of the foods!
When garlic is crushed, blended, chopped, or juiced, amino acids within the garlic are converted to allicin – this is when you can really smell the garlic. The smell of garlic is horribly offensive to many pests, most notably, mosquitoes. By mixing one part garlic juice (it can be purchased, like this garlic juice from Garlic Valley Farms, or you can make your own at home by thoroughly blending garlic cloves in a food processor) with 5 parts water, you can spray to your heart’s content and keep mosquitoes and other pests away for approximately 5-6 hours.
Note: Also effective against vampires.
Okay, you’re going to have to trust us on this one. True, bats are pretty creepy themselves, but they are amazing and incredible natural pest controllers! Bats can eat more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. By attracting just one bat to your outdoor area, you could potentially eliminate over 7,000 mosquitoes in a 12-hour period. Encouraging bats to some hang out in your yard is surprisingly simple – just purchase or make a bat house! We love this bat house from Heath Outdoor Products. Night-blooming flowers, such as yuccas, moonflowers, and evening primroses, are appealing to bats, so that can help draw them to their new home.
For more great ideas for your home, check out our NEST section!
Photo credit: Cookies For Breakfast