Thrifty Ways to Keep Summer Bugs Away

Chemical repellents can be bad for the environment, and tough on your wallet. We have rounded up some frugal, effective and earth-friendly alternatives.


Every summer, they descend like the proverbial unwanted guests at a party. Bothersome bugs can wreak havoc on the sunniest, most relaxing days of the year.

Sure, you can buy repellents to ward off these irksome interlopers, but bug spray can be bad for the environment, and tough on your wallet. Fortunately, we have rounded up some frugal, effective and earth-friendly solutions.

Read on for economical and environmentally responsible ways to ward off some of summer’s peskiest pests.

Mosquitoes

This biting pest is perhaps summer’s greatest scourge, and the rise of the Zika virus has turned some species of mosquitoes into a potentially deadly threat.

Since differentiating an Aedes aegypti mosquito from other species can be impossible for the average mosquito victim, there’s no sense in fooling around — if the virus truly becomes a threat this summer, make sure you apply EPA-registered repellents that contain at least 20 percent DEET.

However, there are other ways to keep mosquitoes at bay. One is no further away than your laundry room. According to AARP:

Hang a fabric softener sheet adjacent to — but not touching — outdoor light fixtures to keep flying insects like mosquitoes and moths away. They hate the scents generated when the softener sheets are heated.

Ants

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Ants follow closely behind mosquitoes on summer’s “least invited guest” list. Drop a bit of sugar on the floor or some maple syrup on the counter, and ants will beat a path to the mess like animals to a watering hole on the Serengeti.

EcoWatch suggests spraying lemon juice and vinegar along pathways into the house, saying it works as well as poisons. Another suggestion:

Mint and tansy are two herbs that are especially effective in keeping ants away. Crumble some leaves around trouble spots, place a few plants on a windowsill or even plant some just outside your door. Both are carefree hardy perennials that will come back year after year.

Perhaps you should pack some in your picnic basket as well!

Moths

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Moths can be a bit…well, unnerving when they appear in your home. They also can destroy your clothes. Natural Living Ideas offers one simple fix:

Since moths have a natural aversion to cedar, you can buy cedar blocks…or shavings and place them in your closet or dresser in order to keep those pesky little bugs from chewing through all your clothes and other fabrics.

You can find cedar blocks at Amazon and other retailers.

Flies

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Sadly, flies are seemingly everywhere during summer months. Some are merely pesky, while others cause painful bites. Bob Vila has a suggestion for keeping flies out of your home:

Flies hate the smell of basil. To discourage them, place pots of basil at doorways and windowsills and on the kitchen counter. Don’t have enough sun for potted basil? Put dried basil in a small muslin pouch, rubbing it occasionally to keep the scent strong.

You can purchase a generous pot of fresh basil for around $4 at Trader Joe’s. An added bonus? A few of the fresh leaves can enhance the flavor of many dishes!

Bees

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A painful bee sting is one of summer’s most unpleasant experiences. Recycle Nation says there are many ways to keep bees from entering your home. For example, they hate sprinkled cinnamon and crushed garlic.

But maybe the best way to keep bees at bay is by planting peppermint in your yard. According to Recycle Nation:

If you put peppermint plants outside or around your house, they will avoid the plants and, by default, your house. It’s a win-win situation – you won’t have to deal with buzzing around your head and you’ll have delicious peppermint for yourself when the plants are done growing!

Spiders

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This arachnid is more of a year-round threat than a strictly summer pest. But either way, you probably want to send spiders packing – or at the very least, would prefer that they stay out of sight.

Bob Vila also has a solution for this problem:

Spiders are not fond of citrus. In a spray bottle, mix water and unsweetened lemon or lime juice. Wipe your countertops with the mixture or spray down doorways and windowsills. You can deter spiders in your garden by spreading around lemon, orange, or lime peels.

Do you have techniques for naturally — and inexpensively — keeping bugs at bay? Share them in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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