There are more than 200 million bugs for every human on the planet (Smithsonian Institute). Most Texans already know that, while also repelling the sinuses of many a Texan, cedar is a great deterrent for uninvited guests in your home. Here are a few more suggestions to avoid bugs, as well as unwelcome harsh chemicals.
ALREADY IN THE PANTRY
Cream of Tartar
When you notice a column of ants winding around your walls or floors, reach for cream of tartar. It is an acidic salt that builds bulk in foods, but is also a powerful ant repellent. Sprinkle a line of cream of tartar to make a barrier where ants typically enter your home—they will not cross the line. Or, lay down a spoonful at an entry point they are making use of, leaving the unlucky ones inside to be squashed.
For crawling bugs, including ants and spiders, vinegar is another household staple that helps deter several kinds of insects. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and wipe down surfaces. Not only will this keep bugs away, but vinegar is a powerful disinfectant. For fruit flies, put cider vinegar and water in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and poke with several small holes using a toothpick to trap the flies.
This aromatic spice may be a family favorite in the kitchen, but many insects steer clear. You can use cinnamon in several ways. For starters cinnamon oil can kill mosquito eggs, which saves you the trouble of trying to kill them as adults. To make a diluted 1 percent oil solution, mix 1/4 teaspoon (or 24 drops) of oil for every 4 ounces of water. You can spray the fluid onto your skin or clothing, around your home, and onto upholstery or plants. Be careful when applying cinnamon oil, as a concentrated dose can irritate your skin.
Further, cinnamon sticks and powder will deter adult mosquitoes, as well as ants, moths, spiders, and other insects. Use cinnamon sticks in closets, cupboards, or other areas bugs like to hang out. Sprinkle a little cinnamon powder on windowsills and in doorways, or add a few drops of essential cinnamon oil to water and spray cracks, corners, or anywhere bugs enter to keep them away.
OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
Crushed lavender flowers produce a fragrance and oil that can repel mosquitoes. An animal study (NIH) on hairless mice found lavender oil to be effective at repelling adult mosquitoes. It also has pain relieving, anti-fungal, and antiseptic qualities, which means it is good for your skin too.
Lavender grows well in gardens or planters. Crush the flowers and apply the oil to bite-sensitive areas of the body; e.g., ankles and arms. Also dab some oil on a clean cloth and rub onto the skin.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
If you have an in-ground pool, you may already have some of this around. This powder is actually the remains of fossilized diatoms (hard-shelled algae). Completely non-toxic to humans and pets, it kills any bug with an exoskeleton; i.e., fleas, earwigs, stinkbugs, and cockroaches. Microscopic shards contained in this substance pierce a bug’s outer shell, causing it to dehydrate. Be sure to always buy “food-grade” DE.