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Kimberly Blackford  by Kimberly Blackford

Rumor has it the bug population will be at its worse this summer. Protect yourself and your garden’s summer with these all-natural bug-fighting basics.

This year has been full of unpredictable temperatures, but one thing that has been predicted is a summer bug influx. Experts say because of the mild winter weather, many insects that normally die did not and are still hanging around. You can expect there to be plenty of ants, fleas, mosquitoes and termites kicking around. If you want to know how to keep the bug population away this summer, you first have to think like a bug. Where do they hang out... what lures these bugs... how can you kill them... you may ask? These questions and more are answered for you.

bucket with cleaning supplies

Where do ants hang out? Ants like to hang out wherever there is food. What lures ants? They love sticky, greasy and sweet foods specifically. How can you kill ants naturally? There are multiple ways to kill these pesky house crashers naturally without chemicals. First things first, clean your kitchen. Make sure all of the lids are sealed and closed on their favorite foods. Keep counter tops and floors clean. Then, wipe down your counters, cabinets or anywhere you have seen ants with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. Ants do not like the smell of vinegar, and vinegar also removes their scent trail so other ants cannot follow them and they cannot get around. Another common household item that ants dislike is corn meal. Ants will try to eat the corn meal, but they cannot digest corn meal properly. Put corn meal wherever ants seem to congregate. Now that you know how to kill the ants that have already found their way in your home, it is time to keep them out for good. Seal the cracks and entrances to your home with caulk or other materials. There are many natural ways to kill ants in your home and keep them out; these are just a few.

Where do mosquitoes hang out? Mosquitoes can be found near lakes, marshes, pools or any other bodies of water. What lures mosquitoes? Mosquitoes need body heat and moisture in order to lay eggs and feed their young. To keep the mosquitoes from multiplying, notify public health about any standing bodies of water that are not being used by anyone. How can you kill mosquitoes naturally? Do not give mosquitoes a place to breed. Empty out standing water several times a week in places such as birdbaths, rain gutters, toys or pet bowls that have been left out in the yard. Mosquitoes are at their worse at sunrise and sunset, but during the day they are usually hiding in the vegetation. Eliminate mosquito’s hiding places by keeping bushes and vegetation trimmed and grass short. If you are outside during sunrise and sunset and do not want to be eaten alive, DEET is a natural repellent that you can spray on yourself without emitting toxins into the air. Instead of using mosquito candles or tiki torches, place fans on your deck or porch when you are enjoying the outdoors. Mosquitoes are not good flyers and will not be able to pilot through the breeze of the fans.

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Where do termites hang out? Termites love wood. Wherever there is wood debris, termites are sure to be. What lures termites? Moisture is the biggest attraction for termites. Look in areas close to the foundation that allows water to sit – near air-conditioning units or faucets. How can you kill termites naturally? Termites can enter your home through wood-to-wood contact or wood to soil contact. The best way to control them is keep all wood away from your home – firewood, tree stumps or construction timber. Another way to keep termites away from your home is to have your foundation six inches or more above the soil. Termites will not want to climb to get to your foundation and their food. If they have already made their way to your foundation, invest in boric acid. Mix the boric acid with water and paint it on the outside of your house or on wood you are using outside. 

garden with wheelbarrow

Now that you are well prepared to protect yourself from ants, mosquitoes and termites naturally, it is time to not let those same bugs ruin your garden this summer. The safest and best way to kill those foul creatures is to use beneficial insects; this way you are not harming the butterflies and birds that land in your garden. Ants do have many beneficial qualities in a garden such as aerating the soil and eating the eggs and larva of certain pest bugs, but ants also have a sweet tooth and often invade fruit and flowers rich in nectar. To keep ants from invading your plants, place sticky traps along the plant stems. They will not be able to get to the sweet nectar. Another natural technique is using their distaste for mint, camphor, tansy, cloves and hot peppers to keep them away from plants. Next, get rid of mosquitoes with a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This bacterium can be bought in cake form or dunks. Both are nontoxic to humans, pets and wildlife. Place the dunks in standing water, and slowly over time the Bt will release in the water and kill the developing mosquito larvae. Finally, to get rid of termites use a special remedy called beneficial nematodes.

Beneficial nematodes are commonly sold in a powder form. Mix the powder with water and apply the mixture with a watering can to your garden. All of these various beneficial insects will not work as quickly as a pesticide, but by going the natural way you prevent killing butterflies, birds and releasing more harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.

Do not let ants, mosquitoes and termites ruin your summer or that awesome garden you have been working so hard to maintain all spring. Remember to keep that kitchen clean and crumb free, standing water to a minimum, and standing water away from your foundation.

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