Skip to main content

These organic pest-control methods are proven winners

Dealing with pests is a huge issue inside of homes, around gardens, and in other structures. The go-to method for many is store-bought pesticides and other harsh chemicals, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. The toxic and dangerous chemicals that are used in many pest-control products can be a hazard to you, your pets, and your family. The best way to avoid this is by going organic. Organic pest-control methods are becoming the norm to ensure healthy and safe surroundings for your loved ones and the environment.

How do you get rid of pests organically?

Lit mosquito repellant containing pyrethrin
Atjanan Charoensiri/

As the trend of organic pest control grows, so do the ideas and products that work. There are a variety of organic pest killers that are designed for different areas of the home and are used to deter or kill different types of pests. The most effective organic pest-control methods that will keep pests at bay include:

  • Spinosad. This pest control can be used on fruit and vegetable plants. It kills insects that ingest it like beetles, spider mites, caterpillars, and bagworms.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis (or BT). BT is safe for use on all plants and is designed to kill caterpillars when the BT is ingested.
  • Neem oil. It is a natural extract from an Asian tree. It is used as a preventative pest control that will inhibit the growth of insects.
  • Pyrethrin. This organic insecticide targets flying insects, causing them to drop out of the air when exposed to this plant extract.
  • Rotenone. This extract is found in the seeds and stems of many plants. It can be used to kill caterpillars, aphids, beetles, and thrips.
  • Decoy crops. This method is a great way to remove your pest problem without killing them. It consists of planting attractive crops away from or in front of your primary crops. This way, pests will enjoy the decoy crops and leave your favorite crops alone.
  • Oil spray. To create this spray, you can mix vegetable oil with some soap in a spray bottle and spray it onto your plants. This type of spray can suffocate pests like aphids, mites, and thrips.
  • Soap spray. This spray is created by mixing water with some liquid soap and spraying the mixture on your plants. It can be used to kill beetles, aphids, whiteflies, and mites.
  • Garlic spray. This spray works as an insect repellent because of its strong aroma. To create this spray, mix pureed garlic with water, vegetable oil, and soap.
  • Homemade insecticide. To create the ultimate insecticide that will repel and kill a variety of pests, you should mix together all of the key ingredients. These ingredients include cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, liquid soap, and water.
  • Plant buddy system. Many pests love one plant type but despise another. This can work to your benefit. Plant attractive plants next to unattractive plants as a natural pest repellent.Some organic pest killers and deterrents can be homemade, while others can be store-bought. It is important to utilize ones that are targeted for your specific needs and pests.

Which plants deter bugs?

Certain bugs are deterred by certain plants, but there are some common types of plants that repel a variety of pesky pests. Some of these plants include:

  • Marigolds: Deter mosquitoes, rabbits, plant lice, etc.
  • Chrysanthemums: Deter ants, roaches, bed bugs, ticks, lice, silverfish, spider mites, etc.
  • Basil: Deters mosquitoes
  • Chives: deter Japanese beetles and flies
  • Petunias: Deter aphids, tomato worms, leafhoppers, beetles, etc.
  • Mint: Deters spiders, ants, and mosquitoes
  • Bay leaves: Deter roaches and flies
  • Lavender: Deters mosquitoes
  • Rosemary: deters flies, mosquitoes, moths, etc.

Can you get rid of pests without killing them?

Spoon holding chili peppers lies on a table
Mongkolchon Akesin/

If you want to get rid of your pests but don’t have the heart to kill them, there are a lot of great natural insect repellents that you can use. Utilizing plants that naturally deter bugs allows you to add some fun plants to your garden while repelling pests. Many deterrent plants have very strong scents that keep the bugs away. This way, there is no killing involved, and your garden stays pest-free.

You can also spray scented water onto your plants. Scents like garlic, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and onion can make bugs run for the hills. This method is not only organic, but it’s also easy to do because many people typically have these items on hand.

Pests will always be a factor when it comes to gardening. They love to eat your favorite plants because they are just too delicious. Luckily, there are so many incredible organic pest-control methods available to you. Some simply repel insects, so you don’t have to worry about killing them. Others are great organic pest killers for getting the job done. Regardless of which methods you prefer, all of them are organic, healthy, and safe for your family, pets, and plants.

Editors' Recommendations

HappySprout Contributor
Everything you need to know about permethrin garden spray, what it does, and how it helps your garden
Are there any drawbacks to this popular insecticide? Find out here.
A chrysanthemum plant with several round, reddish-pink flowers

Pests are just a fact of life anywhere there are plants around to feed them. As such, pest control is an ongoing issue for most gardeners, but it can be hard to find a spray that works for you. If you’re new to gardening or just new to the pest control aisle, you may not have heard of permethrin before. If you’re confused about what permethrin is, where it comes from, and what it’s good for, then you’re in the right place. We’re here to clear up questions you have, starting with the basics.

What is permethrin?
Permethrin is a compound of three chemicals based on a similar compound, pyrethrin, found in flowers in the chrysanthemum family. Chrysanthemums produce pyrethrin as a form of natural pesticide. Permethrin is the synthetic form of this natural compound, so there are some slight differences between the ratio of each chemical in the spray versus in individual plants — namely, the ratio in each individual plant can vary, but the ratio used in sprays is consistent so that you always know exactly what you’re getting.

Read more
What pests does garlic keep away? What you need to know about this natural pest control
Find out if you should add garlic to your garden toolbox
Three garlic bulbs with some garlic cloves next to them

Every gardener has to deal with pesky pests, but luckily there are many options for dealing with them. However, not every method will work for every pest, and gardeners who are dedicated to organic gardening may have a tougher time finding options that work for them. One interesting trend in organic pest control is garlic. That’s right, garlic doesn’t just keep vampires at bay, but pests as well! What pests does garlic keep away, and how does it work? Here’s what you need to know about using garlic as pest control.

Does garlic work as pest control?
Yes, garlic works as a pest repellant, and it’s typically extremely effective. Garlic repels insects in much the same way it repels some people. That is to say, the smell is unpleasant and so insects avoid it. When garlic is applied to the plants you want to protect, the plant absorbs the scent of the garlic, or, more specifically, the allicin in garlic.

Read more
Will ladybugs eat spider mites? What to know about the cutest natural pest control
Could these sweet, spotted bugs be the answer to all your spider mite woes?
A pair of ladybugs on a leaf

For many gardeners, the battle against pests is a top priority — and a never-ending battle. This struggle is something most, if not all, gardeners can relate to. There are many methods and techniques for pest control, but some only work on specific pests, while others aren’t very accessible. Beneficial insects — such as ladybugs — that eat pest insects can save you a lot of time and effort, but knowing which ones eat the pest that’s troubling you can be tricky. But not to worry! We’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about spider mite pest control and how ladybugs can help.

What is a spider mite?
Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause big damage. True to their name, they’re arachnids, although they look more like insects than spiders. Spider mites will live on (and harm) many plants, including fruit trees, berry bushes, vines, and even some ornamental houseplants. In small numbers, they're a nuisance, but warm weather with little to no wind causes an increase in population that can be devastating. This means spider mites, while existing in almost every state, are particularly troublesome for southern and southwestern states.

Read more