Pesky Pests: Easy Homemade Mosquito and Insect Traps and Repellent
'Tis the season! You want to enjoy the long warm days and evenings by spending time outside (in the backyard, for example). The only problem is, as soon as you get comfortable out there, the pests set in shortly thereafter to make your time outside as unbearable as can be. Try these simple, safe, inexpensive homemade snares for all things creepy and crawly. (See also: Use Beer to Get Rid of Pests)
General Insect Trap Techniques
STICKY PASTE ON PAPER
- Find some old paper bags, plastic bags, or even just pieces of cardboard. (Don't be afraid to find creative ways to reuse things you would otherwise throw away).
- Make a paste of sugar, corn syrup, and water by heating it together. When the mixture cools, spread the paste on the paper bags (or equivalent) and place strategically around the house. They are ideal if hung.
How it works: The insects will be attracted to the sweet smell, but will get stuck in it as soon as they land on the bag.
STICKY LIQUID IN BOTTLE
- Start with a large clear plastic bottle or milk jug.
- Attach some string around the mouth of the bottle so it can be hung later.
- Make a thick sticky liquid with sugar and vinegar.
- Pour this sticky mixture into the bottom of the bottle.
- Chop up some appropriate bait into small enough pieces to put it inside the bottle. Fruit is usually a good bet.
- Poke some additional holes in the jug to give bugs greater access to the bait inside.
- Hang the trap in a “high-traffic” area for bugs.
How it works: They will be attracted by the fruit and fly inside, only to get stuck in the vinegar and sugar mixture.
BOTTLE TRAP METHOD
- Start with an empty plastic bottle that is in your recycling box. It can be as small as a 500ml bottle, or as large as a two-liter soda bottle. Discard the cap.
- Cut the top third of the bottle off. It is important to make your cut in the area below the top of the main shaft of the bottle (where it is widest). You should now have a bottle top in the shape of a funnel, and the cylindrical body of the bottle.
- Invert the bottle top (funnel) into the bottle. It should be a snug fit (given the equal diameter of the funnel top and bottle shaft), but if necessary, secure it with tape.
- Wrap the bottle with black paper to create a warm dark place for your mosquitoes to go.
- Inside the bottom of the bottle (either before you secure the inverted funnel, or poured into the bottle through the spout), place the following:
- 1 tablespoon of yeast (for a 2-litre bottle, reduce proportionately for smaller bottles)
- water to fill the 1/3 of the bottle
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Place the bottle a short distance away from where you are.
- This mixture is good for up to a couple of weeks. Change as necessary.
How it works: The mosquitoes will be attracted to the CO2 generated by the yeast and will fly into the bottle. The sugar and water mixture will make them sticky, and they will be too disoriented to escape.
Yellow Jackets / Hornets / Wasps
- Use the same technique as above to construct a bottle trap with the top inverted to make a funnel into the bottle. There is no need to cover the bottle with black paper.
- Fill the bottom with a sweet liquid. Yellow jackets aren't picky; you can use juice, soda, or just sugar water. (If you wish to repel honey bees, then add a small amount of dish soap and vinegar to the bottom of the bottle before adding your sweet liquid).
How it works: Yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps will flock to this bottle (in a big way), will go inside (via the funnel), and will get stuck in the liquid or will become too disoriented to escape.
This simple technique works alarmingly well; if you are in a “high-traffic” area, you could end up emptying an entire bottle full of these pests by the end of a few days.
- Follow the instructions above to make your own plastic bottle trap.
- Add a ¼ cup of vinegar and a ¼ cup of sugar to the bottle.
- Finish filling the bottle to just below the funnel bottom (which was formerly the bottle top) with water.
Using the same bottle trap technique, apparently all fruit flies need is vinegar to get in and get stuck.
Alternate method to the Bottle Trap:
If you don't have a plastic bottle handy, you can use a glass jar and poke holes in the lid large enough for your pest of choice to get in.
Combine flour and borax, and apply to ant-heavy areas.
Alternately (or additionally), growing herbs like spearmint, tansy, and southernwood can repel ants.
Mix flour, borox, and cocoa powder and strategically bait problem areas.
Aphid Control – and Garden Pesticides
Make a spray with water and rhubarb. This is actually poisonous to many garden insects, and when sprayed on your garden will act as a natural pesticide.
Mice and Rats
If you have a rodent problem and aren't keen on using poison because you have animals that could accidentally ingest the poisoned mouse or rat (which could in turn kill your pet), then the following may be a remedy for you:
- Mix together flour and cement mix, and bait problem areas.
- Be sure to leave a water source nearby too.
How it works: The rodents will be attracted to the flour and will eat it (along with the cement mix too). When the rodents drink water, the cement mix will actually start to turn into cement…thus killing the critter.
While this may seem cruel (it is no more or less humane than poison), if you are the sort of person who would use poison if it weren't for the danger to domestic animals, then this may be a solution. If a dog or cat eats a rodent poisoned with cement, they will not be poisoned themselves. However, if they directly eat the flour and cement mixture (which they shouldn't be attracted to, but you never know), there could be problems. Prudent caution is advised.
If you would rather simply repel insects in a natural and inexpensive manner, apply some vanilla extract or vanilla essence to your pulse points. Not only will you be bug-free, but you'll smell good too!
I know there are more insect traps and repellents out there. Feel free to share your best homemade secrets for staying pest-free in the comments!