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naturally repel garden pests

Spring is making way for summer, and with it comes an increase of insect activity. I personally love beneficial insects in and around my garden. They balance the eco-system and bring in predictors like wasps who kill caterpillars, or birds that eat the bugs and leave me nice bird manure as fertilizer, but some insects just take over and have got to go.

This is a compiled list of bugs we may not want around, along with essential oils that will repel them, and herbs that you can companion plant into your garden to repel these insects. I personally tend to keep onions, garlic, calendula and basil in my garden beds to repel the most common buggies, with mints, yarrow and lavender close at hand.


Insect Repelling Essential Oils Repelling Herbs
Ants Cinnamon, Citronella, Citrus (any), Clove, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Spearmint, Tansy Bay, Calendula, Mint (any), Hyssop, Lavender, Marigold, Rue, Sage, Tansy, Woormwood, Yarrow
Aphids Cedarwood, Lemon, Peppermint, Spearmint Garlic, Onions, Chives, Coriander, Hyssop
Asparagus Beetle Peppermint Marigold, Petunia, Parsley, Garlic
Bean Beetle Peppermint, Thyme Marigold, Nasturtium, Rosemary
Cabbage Root Fly Hyssop, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
Cabbage Worms Eucalyptus, Thyme Coffee grounds, Borage, Clover, Geranium, Thyme
Carrot Fly Rosemary, Sage Rosemary, Sage, Leeks, Garlic
Caterpillars Peppermint, Spearmint Garlic, Onions, Chives, Leeks
Cutworm Sage, Thyme Coffee Grounds, Egg Shells,
Flea Beetle Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Spearmint Catmint, Mint(s)
Fleas Citronella, Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint Lavender, Mint, Pennyroyal (toxic to cats)
Flies Citronella, Lavender, Peppermint Basil, Rue, Rhubarb
Gnats Citronella, Patchoulli, Spearmint Geranium, Lemon Thyme, Lavender, Mexican Marigold (Tagetes minuta)
Grass Hoppers Cilantro Horehound, Calendula, Cilantro, Garlic Oil, Clover
Lice Cedarwood,Lavender,  Melaleuca, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint,Thyme Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme
Leaf Miners Melaleuca, Cinnamon Leaf Garlic
Mosquitos Citronella, lavender, lemongrass, Terrashield Basil, Rosemary
Nematodes Sage, Citronella Marigold, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia
Potato Bugs Catnip, Coriander, Horehound, Horseraddish, Calendula, Cilantro, Garlic Oil, Clover, Marigold
Slugs Anise, Cedarwood, Pine, Rue Woormwood, Rue, Fennel, Anise, Rosemary, Chevril
Snails Cedarwood, Garlic, Patchouli, Pine, Rue Coffee Grounds, Egg Shells, Crushed Nut Shells
Squash Bugs Basil, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Orange, Lemongrass Cloves, Onions, Garlic, Nasturtium, Raddish, Cilantro, Lemongrass, Sage
Ticks Citronella, Lemongrass, Thyme, Sage Lavender
Tomato Hornworm Peppermint Borage, Garlic Oil, Pot Marigold, Petunia
Weevils Cedarwood, Patchouli Catnip
White Fly Lavender, Sage, Tansy Nasturtium
White Moth Sage, Rosemary, Mint, Oregano, Thyme Hyssop, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tansy, Thyme
Wooly Aphids Patchouli, Pine, Sandalwood


How to use the essential oils

Using essential oils in the garden takes some discretion. Don’t just dump undiluted essential oils in your soil and expect good things to happen. Sure it will repel those moths, but it will also damage your soil composition where the undiluted oil is. Instead, get some scrap cloth and tie it to a lattice, or a strong stocked plant in your garden like broccoli, fava beans, corn, or sunflowers. On the piece of cloth dab a drop or two of your oil blend of choice. Re-apply every 3 days or after a rain storm.

You can also put 10-15 drops of your essential oil blend into a spray bottle with 2 cups of water. Shake the bottle very well right before use (the oil floats to the top) and spray your plants on the top and bottom of the leaves to repel those pesky insects.

You can place cotton balls with a few drops of your EO solution on it throughout your garden.

How to use herbs to repel insects

This is my first line of defense for pest prevention. Instead of planting rows of food I disburse plants that need different resources and different parts of the ground so the bugs can’t just swarm my garden. For example, in one plot I will plant corn at the back, while the corn is growing I will then plant beans. The beans can climb up the corn and protect the stocks. I also plant squash at the base of the corn and peas. This will create ground cover and keep the roots cool. Between these rows of “three sisters” I plant garlic, onions, and radish, which repel the common bugs that eat squash, beans, and corn. This creates a bio-diverse garden that uses both vertical garden methods, traditional knowledge (the three sisters is how native Americans grew their corn fields), and uses different soil depths. The radish digs deep into the soil loosening it and allowing water to reach deep into the ground, the onions and garlic have a medium depth root that will expand and utilize ground that the squash, beans, and corn will not.

By creating a more bio-diverse garden we will attract beneficial insects and animals that will help keep our pests at bay. I got this inspiration from the book Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture (affiliate link), which is a wonderful permaculture resource, but has some fantastic ideas on annual food gardens as well.

You can create any combination of companion plants that will complement eachother following some general guidelines. Mother Earth News wrote a great piece on companion planting here.

What are your favorite tricks to get rid of unwanted pests in your garden?

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This post shared on: Wildcrafting Wednesday, Frugally Sustainable.

About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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22 Responses to Natural Pest Control

  1. Bethany V. says:

    Any tips on repelling carpet beetles? We seem to have a regular supply of them inside, though not to the level of an infestation. They are mostly annoying.

    • Amanda says:

      Have you tried diatomaceous earth? You can sprinkle it all over the carpet and leave it for a day. Be sure to get the edges where they congregate. Orange and clove oil or just the spice dusted into the carpet might help too. Let me know if these solutions work! Good luck.

      • Bethany V. says:

        I haven’t tried any of those solutions yet, but I will. I usually find the larva in the bottom of clothing drawers, can I safely sprinkle any of those things in drawers too? Right now I use a little bit of Borax in a few spots, but obviously a leave a dusting on the kids clothes.

        • Amanda says:

          You can. They are both safe to use around pets and children. I would probably do the oils or herbs in the clothes drawers and the Diatomaceous earth elsewhere, just because you don’t want to inhale the dust.

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  10. Ashley says:

    Do any of the essential oils listed (peppermint in particular) deter beneficial/pollinating insects?

    • Amanda says:

      I honestly don’t know. I tend to do more companion planting with herbs instead of using essential oils because it lasts longer (no need to reapply). I don’t think it should but I don’t know.

  11. Shirley Darby says:

    Looking for a companion planting to repel spider mites. Every year they get on my tomato plants and I end up spraying them with a chemical.

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  17. I never tried the above herbs. But I will try it once.

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