Showing posts with label wasps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wasps. Show all posts

Sunday, June 23, 2024

A Summer Pest Control Update! - Enjoying a Pest-Free Patio with Peppermint Oil

A Summer Pest Control Update! - Enjoying a Pest-Free Patio with Peppermint Oil
This spring and summer, I've discovered an incredibly effective method for keeping our patio free from wasps, ants, spiders, and flies a simple spray made of peppermint oil and water. 

Wasps are the worst backyard pests for us. They were my target! Sorry, wasps, not sorry. You wasps should be happy, because it keeps you away, and thus extends your life!

I initially wrote about this several weeks ago, and this new article is an update on how incredible this all natural pest repellent has worked! 

I used to be harassed at our patio table, to the point that after some questionable language, I'd head in the house and let the little *& % & win!

Well, they're no longer winning. Who's the boss now! This update also reiterates some of the "science" behind why peppermint works so well - just because I was curious.

I opted for a spray bottle of water with about a tablespoon (or less) of peppermint oil. That way, I can liberally spray it everywhere.

The results have been nothing short of amazing. Previously, our outdoor meals were often interrupted by pesky wasps buzzing around our food, making it difficult to enjoy our time outside. However, since using a water-peppermint oil spray, we've been able to sit at our patio table and have a complete meal in peace.

I make sure to reapply the spray when I'm outside, targeting areas like the house bricks, flower pots (though not directly on the flowers), chairs, under the chairs, under the table, our swing, and the netting. It takes a few minutes or less and is well worth the results.

The mixture is mostly water with about a tablespoon of peppermint oil in the bottle, and it doesn't damage anything—not even our swing and chair cushions. There are absolutely no stains because it's essentially just scented water.

Why Peppermint Oil Works as a Pest Deterrent

The effectiveness of peppermint oil in deterring common pests such as wasps, ants, spiders, and flies can be attributed to several factors:

1. The Strong Scent

Peppermint oil has a strong, minty aroma that is pleasant to humans but overwhelming to many insects. Wasps, ants, and spiders rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate food and navigate their environment. The intense scent of peppermint oil can disrupt these processes, making your patio unappealing to them.

2. Natural Insect Repellent Properties

Peppermint oil contains compounds like menthol and pulegone, which are effective natural insect repellents. These compounds interfere with insects' ability to communicate and find their way around, effectively keeping them at bay. Research has shown that peppermint oil can repel various insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and even certain types of spiders.

3. Safe for Humans and Pets

Safety is one of the best aspects of using peppermint oil as a pest deterrent. Unlike chemical insecticides, peppermint oil is non-toxic to humans and pets when used moderately. This makes it an excellent option for families with children and pets who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Practical Application Tips

To maximize the effectiveness of your peppermint oil spray, follow these practical tips:

  • Consistent Application: When spending extended time outside, reapply the spray daily. This ensures the scent remains strong enough to deter pests.
  • Target Key Areas: Focus on areas where insects are likely to gather, such as around food, seating areas, and entry points to your home. Spraying under tables and chairs can help create a barrier that pests are reluctant to cross.
  • Avoid Direct Spraying on Plants: While peppermint oil is generally safe for plants, it's best to avoid spraying directly on flowers and foliage. This helps prevent potential adverse effects on your plants and ensures the oil is used where it's most effective.

Conclusion

Our personal experience with peppermint oil spray has been highly effective. The simple mixture of water and peppermint oil has transformed our patio into a pest-free haven, allowing us to enjoy outdoor meals and relaxation without the constant annoyance of wasps, ants, spiders, and flies. 

The scientific reasons behind its effectiveness—its strong scent, natural repellent properties, and safety—make it a practical and reliable solution for anyone looking to keep their outdoor spaces free from common pests. Give it a try and enjoy the benefits of a peaceful, pest-free patio!

KEY POINTS:

  • I apply the spray of peppermint water every day when I go into the backyard.
  • It wears off over time, especially when it rains. I apply it daily, because I'm in the backyard daily.
  • Spray furniture, under furniture, cushions, house bricks, where you know the pests tend to go
  • I especially spray around our patio table. That way I'm having my morning coffee in total peace!
  • It's cheap and easy, and if your pets or humans aren't allergic to peppermint, it's safe! Smells good too!
  • I keep the bottle of peppermint water sitting on the patio table all summer, so when I go outside, I can easily give everything a thorough spritz.

My hubby is utterly shocked at how well this works, especially when we're eating outside—it's pretty amazing.

The real test will be in August and September when wasps are punch drunk, and we usually cannot sit in our backyard. I'm totally confident that I've won this battle! I'll let you know.

Where I Buy Peppermint Oil:

I buy the peppermint oil from Amazon. There are many to choose from. Here's the latest one I purchased.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Use of Peppermint Oil to Deter Squirrels and Certain Insects

The Use of Peppermint Oil to Deter Squirrels and Certain Insects
I've been on the hunt for a natural, safe remedy to deter squirrels from digging in my hanging pots and garden and something that would naturally deter wasps and spiders

After researching various options, I discovered that peppermint oil is highly recommended for these purposes. Its strong, minty aroma effectively repels these pests while being safe for the environment, pets, and humans when used properly.

Peppermint oil is a popular natural remedy for deterring various indoor and outdoor pests. This essential oil, derived from the peppermint plant, has a strong scent that many pests find overwhelming and unpleasant. 

Here, I explore how to use peppermint oil to deter spiders indoors, wasps outdoors, and squirrels digging in your flower pots. I also discuss what pests peppermint oil won't deter and whether it might attract any pests.

Note: I've made the suggested diluted mixture, but I also use the pure oil outside (not diluted).

How to Use Peppermint Oil as a Pest Deterrent

General Preparation:

  • Mix peppermint oil with water to create a spray.
  • Use 10-15 drops of peppermint oil per cup of water.
  • For stronger solutions, use 20-30 drops per cup of water.
  • Shake the mixture well before each use.
  • I've also put some pure oil on the bricks of my house near my hanging pots as a potential climbing deterrent for squirrels.

Indoors (Spiders):

  • Spray the mixture around windows, doors, and baseboards.
  • Apply to corners, cracks, and other entry points where spiders may enter.
  • Reapply every 2-3 weeks or after cleaning.
  • I've sprayed the entire perimeter of my basement using this mixture. It seems to help!

Outdoors (Wasps):

  • Spray around areas where wasps are likely to build nests, such as under eaves, around porch roofs, and in sheds.
  • Apply to outdoor furniture and around picnic areas. I spray it under my outdoor table.
  • Reapply every few days or after rain.
  • I apply it to my decorative stones near my flowers and the open brick slots outside the house where I see the little "&#$%(" going in!
  • I have a little container on the patio table with pure peppermint oil.

Flower Pots (Squirrels):

  • They say you can spray the mixture directly onto the soil of flower pots, but I need to be brave enough to do that! I have sprayed it on my pots and around the edges of the flower pots.
  • I have yet to try dousing cotton balls with peppermint oil and placing them in the pots.
  • Reapply every 2-3 days or after watering.

What Peppermint Oil Won't Do

  • Rodents: Peppermint oil might be effective against mice and rats, but it is not a guaranteed deterrent. I couldn't speak to its effectiveness for this use. I encourage you to research more about rodents.
  • Significant Pests: It won't deter larger pests such as raccoons.
  • Persistent Insects: Peppermint oil alone may not significantly deter certain insects, such as ants and cockroaches.

Potential Insects That Peppermint Oil Might Attract

  • Pollinators: Bees and butterflies, which are generally drawn to floral and sweet scents, might be attracted to the sweet scent of peppermint oil.

Best Practices for Using Peppermint Oil

  • Consistency: Regular application is key to maintaining the effectiveness of peppermint oil as a deterrent.
  • Targeted Application: Focus on areas where pests are commonly found or seen entering.
  • Alternative Solutions: Consider integrating other pest control methods for persistent or large infestations.

Additional Tips

  • Safety: Ensure the peppermint oil mixture does not contact pets or children. While natural, it can still cause irritation.
  • Storage: Store peppermint oil in a cool, dark place to maintain potency.
  • Testing: Before widespread use, test the mixture in a small area to ensure it does not damage surfaces or plants.

Conclusion

Peppermint oil is an effective natural remedy for deterring spiders indoors, wasps outdoors, and squirrels from digging in your flower pots. 

Peppermint oil can be part of your pest control strategy by following proper application methods and understanding its limitations. 

It does seem to work for our home and the outdoor patio; I have had fewer wasps harassing me in the backyard so far this year. Since it's an easy, natural solution, I use peppermint oil inside and outside.

ADDED BONUS TIP:

Every month, I change our furnace filter and add about 20 drops of peppermint oil directly on the filter to give the house a pleasant, fresh peppermint scent throughout. It does wear off quickly (within a day or so).

************

Where I Buy My Peppermint Oil:

I buy my peppermint oil from Amazon. There are many to choose from. Here's the latest one I purchased.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Why Insect Hotels Are Good For Wildlife And Gardeners Reviewed


Insect Hotels
Insect Hotel


Bug hotels or Insect Houses are an essential item in our garden. They are a feature in themselves and are a vital component of our wildlife-friendly garden.

Insect Hotels can be bought or handmade and are both equally effective. When you have a bug house you are aiming to attract all manner of insects and wildlife to gain a balance of insects in your garden which is vital if you are aiming to have a harmonious wildlife garden.


Insect Hotels Benefits To The Garden

Having an Insect Hotel in the garden is not entirely altruistic. The aim of any wildlife gardener is to use no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides at all. 

These chemicals kill "pests" and beneficial insects equally in most cases and are not good for wildlife.

For the gardener, an insect hotel can attract all manner of bugs and many predators that will help us to keep a good balance in the garden thus eliminating the need to use pesticides. 

Bee on Daffodil
Bee on Daffodil

In the early days of converting a normal garden to a wildlife pesticide-free garden, this can take some nerve. A garden needs a natural balance of predator and prey.

If you or a previous garden have been using chemicals then stop, undoubtedly in the first year or so you will see greenfly and blackfly and all manner of pests eating our plants. This is because your garden became unbalanced. It is now for us to redress this balance and installing insect houses is one easy step.   

However, if we want a wildlife friendly garden we must resist the urge to use chemicals. Instead, we must attract the beneficial insects, spiders and predators to our gardens who will easily and quickly dispatch those pests eating our plants.

 A great way to do this especially in the early days is to have an Insect Hotel or several bughouses. Provide insects shelter and a food source and they will arrive. 

Insect Hotel On Fence
Insect Hotel In Garden

Personally in the first two years of taking on this garden, I simply did not grow plants I knew would be susceptible to aphid attack. The previous gardeners had used chemicals and had a very non-wildlife friendly garden, so I knew once I stopped all chemical use I would face some difficulties. 

It took a year or two to fully balance the garden again. I was lucky as my neighbours also stopped using chemicals which helps a lot as wildlife do not know about boundaries. It was so worth it as since then I have not had to spend any money on insect prevention, the predators do it all for me free of charge night and day! 

In this article, we will mainly talk about insect houses with a mention and further resources to our ground-dwelling beneficial creatures need as well.


Location Of an Insect Hotel.

A Bughouse or Insect Hotel is best located in a warm undisturbed spot in your garden. For insects, it is important it is in a fairly dry area so under the house or shed eaves, in a tree or against a sunny fence. 

Some may be a thing of beauty or they may be something you wish to hide from full view. Either way, it does not matter to the bugs as long as they can go about their business undisturbed. We like the look of ours so we do not make any particular effort to hide them. 


Who Lives in an Insect Hotel?

Insect Hotel Close Up
Close Up Of Insect Hotel

So what can you expect to live in your insect hotel?

Generally, you can expect a variety of insects such as ladybirds and woodlice. You will get spiders of course and hopefully bees or maybe wasps.

These are all beneficial creatures to your garden. These creatures need a place to shelter, raise their young and keep themselves and their young hidden from predators. 

You can of course just put up your insect hotel and forget about it, but It can be good fun to carefully observe your insect hotel to see who has taken up residence.


Types of Wildlife Hotels. 

It is better to have several insect-specific bughouses around the garden in suitable locations than one great big multi-bug house.

The idea is that each will be more suitable for one species than another. Of course, there is no way of knowing who will decide to take up residence! 

The rationale is that different species require different approaches. For example, a home to attract bees requires a warm sunny dry location. Ideally, it should face south or as near south as possible and the area in front of it would be clear of vegetation. It is important to be a few feet off the ground and secured strongly to a wall, tree or fence.  You can buy Bug Houses that hang up with wire or string, some that need nailing up an other Insect Houses with Stakes that can be put into the ground.  Ideally a variety of these in the garden is best.  

Insect Hotel In Woods
Insect Hotel In The Woods

Spiders are happy in a site with more cover where they can spin webs between tree branches and the insect hotel but in my experience, they are not too fussy.

In addition, while you are siting your bug houses spare a thought for ground dwelling creatures like hedgehogs who are also very beneficial to our gardens.

Hedgehogs are a species in serious decline. A lovely pile of wood and leaves in an undisturbed corner of the garden will go a long way towards helping these enchanting and ancient creatures. If you would like to take it a step further you can purchase a special house for them known as a Hogitat. Please read more about How To Help Hedgehogs In Your Garden  


Natural Wood Pile
Well Established Wood Pile 

If you are wanting to attract frogs and toads they will love a warm wet, damp environment in a shady spot down on the ground.

You can start a wildlife hotel at any time though you may be more successful if you put one up in early Spring or Autumn/Fall. 


Materials For An Insect, Bee Or Spider Hotel.

Ideally, you will have a bug house made of natural materials. The wood is best untreated with no paint or preservatives as that will only deter and harm insects.

Wooden tubes in Bug House
Wooden tubes for insects in Bug House

If you are making your own do try to use items already in your garden to promote recycling within the garden. So small branches, hollow stems tied together, dried leaves, seed heads will all contribute to your insect hotel.  

The structure needs to be strong and solid with a sloping and wide roof to keep the rain out.

If you are buying a bug house with pre-drilled holes in the wood they should be smooth and if doing it yourself make sure there are no splinters. 

Think about the types of creatures or insects you want to attract and the habitat they require. 

Bug hotel wood shavings
Wood shavings for insects in bug hotel

Looking After An Insect Hotel.

You can expect an insect hotel to last about 2 years on average, maybe longer depending on the materials used. As it is made of natural material it will degrade over time. 

During this time it is recommended to clean it out at the end of each summer to remove any dead cells or insects and replace any worn-out sections. That is all that is really needed. 


Insect Houses Are A Learning Opportunity For Children

Bug houses are a great learning experience. It is also a wonderful fun and educational opportunity for children to learn about and appreciate the natural world. 

In a small wood near a busy residential area, primary school children have made insect houses to site all over the wood to help the local wildlife and they take great pride in their creations and interest in the inhabitants. 

Insect Hotel
Bug Hotel In The Woods Good For Winter Shelter

In our garden, we have a dry insect house 3 feet off the ground on a sunny fence, a log pile in a shady but warm corner to attract hedgehogs and in a corner near the garage a large saucer of water with dense habitat around it to attract frogs and toads. The spiders seem to make their home in many of these locations as well. 

 Having a bug hotel or two and making a habitat for wildlife is very enriching in our gardens and our lives.

Insect houses take up very little room, so most people could have an insect house in an outdoor space. The end result of all this care is a garden that is filled with the sound and sights of beautiful insects.

 Yes, we do still get greenfly and blackfly, but predator insects soon become aware of them and keep the numbers down or even eradicate them for me. We do perhaps have to accept some level of pest attack on our plants but when you achieve that crucial balance it becomes less of a problem.

I am certainly prepared to have some plant damage to know that I am not killing all insects indiscriminately. Chemicals kill both "pests" and beneficial insects.

I once had a houseplant that became invested with a type of whitefly, so as it was summer I put it outside during the day for a few days and the wasps ate all the flies for me and the plant survived.

Other insects like this gorgeous butterfly happily live in the garden now going about their daily lives and bring me a lot of joy. 

Butterfly on pink flower
Beautiful Butterfly In Summer

People often think about the beautiful more visible wildlife like birds, but it all really begins with the small perhaps less beautiful or more scary insects. If we take more care of them they will help our gardens be more healthy and we will certainly see more birds and other gorgeous wildlife as well. 

 Without our negative influence of chemicals, over time the garden adopts an easy give and take, ebb and flow of natural processes and our plants and us benefit from that.

There are many useful and fun things you can do for wildlife in our own garden spaces, having a few insect hotels is a great start. 


More Wildlife And Gardening Articles

6 Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead

Spring Woodland Walks For Wellbeing Reviewed

Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Diary Of  A Wild Country Garden

Essential Wildlife Gardening Gifts

Gardening And Wildlife Articles On Review This Reviews 




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