5 natural ways to get rid of pests

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | August 19, 2015

Our world is filled with chemicals. Pesticides are commonly used as a quick way to get rid of any pests that might plague the house, yard, or garden, but we all pay a price for this convenient pest control - the chemicals used to kill those pests get into the environment, contaminate the ground water, and could eventually wind up affecting the adults, children and pets in the household.

That's why many homeowners turn to organic, natural solutions for pest control. Some of these solutions might not work as quickly or be as convenient as the chemicals sprayed by a bottle, but they come with peace of mind. They might also come with the nice bonus of being cheaper and easily available.

Boric acid

This is a natural mineral that has been refined to create a gentle pesticide. It is a very fine dust, which means that it can be inhaled, and that can lead to irritation - so be careful! However, it is very easy to apply and absolutely lethal to certain insects when used correctly. Boric acid can be sprayed or spinkled into crawlspaces or used in baits that can be placed behind walls.

Boric acid must be ingested by the insects, so proper application is key. When used the right way, boric acid can decimate a population of cockroaches, ants, silverfish, fleas, and possibly even bed bugs. Just be careful to keep the boric acid dust away from pets and small children, and avoid inhaling it yourself.


This is a natural cleaning solution that is perfectly safe for anyone in the household. It works wonders because it cleans so well; it will destroy the scent tracks and trails left behind by household pests. If ants and other critters can't find the scent trails they need to navigate, they will quickly go somewhere else.

It can also play a part in other pest control methods. For instance, fruit flies can be banished with a simple solution. Fill an old jar three-quarters of the way with vinegar, add in five to six drops of dish detergent, and then fill the jar up to the top with water. Place it on the counter and wait. The fruit flies will flock to the jar and drown in the mixture.

Diatomaceous earth

This is a fascinating way to kill bugs without any toxic worries for humans. Diatomaceous earth is made of the tiny, fossilized remains of diatoms. The result is a dust called silica. It works by drying out the exoskeleton of certain insects. Many homeowners have had success with killing ants, roaches, bedbugs, fleas, ticks, spiders, and much more by sprinkling this fine dust in problem areas.

Though this is a very safe natural solution to use, be careful with it. Inhaling any type of dust can irritate the nasal passages, getting it into your eyes can hurt, and it can cause dryness of the skin.

Common household remedies

Want to go really organic? Fight certain pests with the plants, fruits, and other everyday items they hate. Tea tree essential oil will repel many insects, including ants. Cedar oil is the bane of fleas and moths. Bay leaves repel weevils, flies tend to hate mint, and catnip will send roaches and mosquitoes scurrying in the other direction.

You can even take advantage of common household items for pest control. Cinnamon can repel dust mites. Lemon or lime juice can annoy spiders enough to make them go away. Interestingly enough, some swear by strips of Irish Spring soap in the garden to repel deer.

Bats and owls

Sometimes, the best way to control pests is to let the animal kingdom do the work for you. Bats adore mosquitoes, and can devour up to a thousand of them in a single hour. Owls have a taste for mice, and will swoop all over your yard at night, cleaning up the critter population.

Take advantage of these wonderful predators by creating the proper habitat for them. Bat houses made of old barn wood and placed facing southeast for more exposure to sunlight can tempt these tiny predators to stick around. Owl houses or boxes can be placed in more rural areas, where the owls are not close to busy roads or human activity. Then just sit back and watch the population of mosquitoes, mice, and rats diminish with each passing day.

Photo credit to Kevin Irby

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.