Pest Defense: Sustainable Tips to Control Insects

Pest Defense: Sustainable Tips to Control Insects

Along with big barbeques and backyard parties, summer can also bring its share of unwanted guests. And we aren’t just referring to drunk uncles, handsy co-workers, or the guy your daughter is dating to tick you off. No, we mean the ants, roaches, mosquitoes and other creepy crawlers who show up as predictably as those seldom-seen relatives who drop in for a minute and end up staying overnight.

Of course, not all party-crashers and insectile interlopers are created equal and different multi-limbed critters may require distinct approaches. But one pest control strategy you should avoid? Reaching for chemical pesticides and toxic insect repellents. Instead, while you’re enjoying the sunshine and fresh air that arrives with the season, consider more eco-friendly solutions.

Let’s explore sustainable pest control methods that prioritize the health of the planet, our families, and our guests — while also keeping unwelcome pests at bay.

The problem with chemical pesticides

Whether it’s how harsh chemicals contaminate waterways or impact indoor air quality, there are numerous reasons why people are making the switch to sustainable pesticides. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Environmental impact: Chemical-based pesticides poison soil, waterways, and the air. This type of pollution then leads to the destruction of ecosystems and non-target organisms like beneficial insects, birds, and aquatic life.
  • Human health risks: Exposure to chemical pesticides has been linked to various health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, damage to the central service system, reproductive problems, and even cancer. Children and pets are particularly vulnerable to these risks.
  • Pesticide resistance: The overuse of chemical pesticides can lead to pesticide-resistant pests, causing the product to be ineffective over time. Manufacturers are then led to use stronger, more toxic chemicals to combat pests.

Focus on pest prevention first

The best way to deal with pests sustainably is to keep infestations from happening in the first place. While prevention is not foolproof, as some insects can be quite adamant about finding their way into your home, there are several ways you can help repel even the most persistent of pests. Among the most important? Keep your home tidy with sustainable cleaning tips and eliminate exposed food sources and standing water, both of which attract pests. Then, seal cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and windows to minimize entry points for insects. For some sustainable aromatherapy that also helps deter bugs, consider placing insect-repelling herbs like basil, mint, and lavender around your home for an extra boost.

Switch to natural repellents

Speaking of insect-fighting herbs, there are many other natural insect repellents that help get the job done. Skip purchasing chemical insecticides from the store and look for some of these natural alternatives instead. Citronella, peppermint, and tea tree essential oils can be very effective at repelling mosquitoes, ants, and other pests around the home. All you need to do is dilute these oils with water and spray them around your home or put a few drops in a humidifier.

If you are outside, apply diluted essential oils directly to your skin as a natural insect repellent. You can also find sustainable brands that sell organic insect repellent creams and sprays.

For outdoor gatherings, you can place a few citronella candles and insect-repelling herbs around the space to help prevent any pesky mosquitoes from crashing your party. It usually takes around 15 minutes for candles to start deterring insects, and they work best on porches and decks where there is minimal breeze.

Maintain outdoor landscapes

Landscaping choices play a huge role in pest prevention during the summer months. To deter pests from getting inside, trim bushes and tree branches away from the exterior of your home. This prevents unwanted insects from finding easy access. Keeping grassy areas mowed will also help eliminate ticks and fleas, which is especially useful for pet owners. You’ll also want to remove standing water sources or place them away from where you’ll be hosting guests. Standing water is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes, so the less of it you have in your backyard, the better.

Try DIY bug traps

Create homemade traps to capture and remove pests from your home without using synthetic chemicals. For example, you can make an easy fruit fly trap using apple cider vinegar, sugar, and dish soap. As for ants, borax and sugar can be sprinkled along their pathways, near windows, or along countertops. The sugar attracts the ants and Borax is toxic to them.

Introduce beneficial insects

For home gardens, pests can wreak havoc on your plants if not dealt with quickly.  However, certain insects in your garden are highly beneficial when it comes to naturally controlling pests on your plants.

Ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantises are insects you want in your garden. They feed on harmful pests like aphids, mites, and even hornworm eggs. To attract these insects to your garden, you’ll want to plant native flowers and herbs. From there, you’ll have a much easier time managing unwanted bugs in your garden.

Explore Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Implement an integrated pest management approach that combines multiple strategies for pest control. This holistic approach focuses on long-term prevention while omitting the use of chemical pesticides through cultural, mechanical, and biological methods.

These may include techniques such as hand-picking pests, spraying off insects with a hose, using insecticidal soaps or oils, and attracting beneficial insects to your garden. Learning these strategies will make you a more efficient gardener and help you lower your carbon emissions when it comes to maintaining a home garden.


Dealing with summer pests sustainably is the better choice for both people and the planet. From natural repellents to DIY traps, there are many eco-friendly alternatives to managing pests around your home. Now get out there and enjoy some summer fun — without all the bug bites!


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