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Squash Bugs - 27 Solutions to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants Naturally

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29 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants

Whether you’re a professional farmer or a backyard gardener, you will come across destructive insects and bugs on your plants.

However, there are many solutions available for getting rid of these common plant pests. These range from organic store-bought pesticides to even things you probably already have in your home.

So, what are the best home remedies and organic methods to stop insects from eating your plants?

Here’s how to get rid of bugs on plants naturally.

1. Beneficial Insects

While many bugs fall under the pest category, some are helpers, feeding on the pests you want to get rid of.

Therefore, having ladybugs, braconid wasps, spiders, praying mantises, dragonflies, minute pirate bugs, and other beneficial garden insects around will reduce damage to your garden and help ensure healthy crops.

Moreover, you can also buy most of these insects.

2. Companion Planting

Companion planting is an organic method of controlling pests. And it isn’t just limited to flowers either — you can plant vegetables and herbs such as onions and sage.

3. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a great home remedy for insect control. Use it to get rid of crawling and leaf eating insects. When the powder gets inside the exoskeleton of the critters, it sucks the moisture out of them.

Liberally sprinkle DE powder on and around your plants for an effective killing shield against any pest problem. You can also apply it to potting soil or garden soil before planting.

Alternatively, make a homemade pesticide for plants by combining 5 tablespoons of DE in a gallon of water. Shake well and use it to spray your plants. This liquid homemade insecticide will kill insects when it dries out.

Moreover, DE is safe for humans to handle, but must be reapplied after a rainstorm.

4. Soap and Water 

Combine soap and water for a simple home remedy to stop insects from eating plant leaves. Soapy water creates an effective shield against a wide variety of pests.

Mix 5 tablespoons of organic liquid soap in a gallon of water to make a plant-friendly bug spray for indoor and outdoor plants. This solution will suffocate some insects and create a slippery surface that repels others.

5. Neem Oil

Neem oil is a superb natural insect repellent for plants. Moreover, it is the number one go-to pest control remedy for organic gardeners.

It is highly effective as a repellent for squash bugs, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, aphids, and more.

A basic neem oil insecticide recipe is to mix 4 teaspoons of it with 2 teaspoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Shake well and spray the insecticidal solution on plants.

You can also purchase the ready-to-use concentrate and apply it according to the instructions on the bottle.

Now watch the insects run for cover as their hormones are thrown completely out of whack.

6. Beneficial Nematodes 

This is a very powerful method to get rid of root eating bugs and insects. Beneficial nematodes seek out soil-dwelling pests and larvae and devour them.

Buy online and apply following the package instructions. It works against Japanese beetle grubs, cutworms, flea beetles, ants, vine weevils, and many others.

Traps

There are many kinds of traps for garden insects, some of which don’t harm them at all.

7. Sticky Trap

Using sticky traps is an effective way to control flies and pesky insects. You can also make a DIY trap of any yellow or blue paper that’s covered in a sticky substance.

8. Grapefruit Halves

Your morning breakfast can become your daily shield against bad insects.

Once you’ve eaten the fruit, use the rind as bait to attract snails and slugs and watch them slowly march nearby.

You can also cut a grapefruit in half and scoop out the inside. Once that’s done, place the empty shell near affected plants in the late afternoon.

Slugs and snails will crawl right in to take cover. Finally, scoop them out the next norming and squish them or feed them to the birds.

9. Beer Container

To prevent snails and slugs from noshing on your plants, set out a little dish of beer to attract them.

The slimy little guys like the stuff.

The smell coming from the dish will lure them in and drown them. Afterward, scoop them out and dispose of them.

Essential Oils for Pest Control

There are some essential oils that are effective at repelling garden pests.

The basic application is 10-15 drops of oil to a cup of water. Place the solution into a spray bottle and apply it to the affected areas.

However, be careful when using, as some oils can also repel insects that are useful to a garden.

10. Peppermint

This one is famous for its pleasant aroma and its ability to keep out certain critters such as the mealybug [1], beetles, flies, rodents, caterpillars, and ants.

11. Chrysanthemum 

Easier to use than it is to say, this flower contains pyrethrin, which is a natural bug killer.

Chrysanthemum oil is especially useful against aphids, fleas, and ants. It kills them.

12. Pine 

Pine oil is highly effective against mosquitoes [2]. Mosquitoes find the smell utterly repulsive. Therefore, they will avoid your house and garden when the oil is diffused.

13. Tea Tree 

Great against mosquitoes and ants, you can make a simple solution of tea tree oil and water and apply it with a sprayer. Stinging insects and some garden bugs also seem to hate it.

14. Thyme 

The distinctive smell of thyme is not only good for controlling sucking insects, but it’s also effective against fungus.

15. Lavender 

Among the home remedies for plant insects, lavender is very powerful. Flying insects such as flies, fleas, and beetles seem to hate lavender oil. What’s more, you can use it to relieve itches from bug bites.

16. Lemongrass

Lemongrass oil is an excellent repellent for fruit flies, mosquitoes, and fleas. This makes it handy to have around the house.

17. Orange 

Use orange oil to keep bugs out of your vegetable garden and house. It is a wonderful repellent against ants, spiders, cockroaches, mites, termites, flies, and even wasps.

18. Cinnamon 

This is an effective oil for use in the garden and around the home.

Cinnamon oil makes a great deterrent for aphids (greenflies), earwigs, silverfish, mealybugs, scale insects, and mosquito larvae.

You can also use cinnamon powder to get rid of bed bugs.

19. Basil 

Basil oil is another great one to keep insects away from plants. It not only repels caterpillars, but also flies, weevils, and moths. Moreover, you can burn the oil and let the smoke permeate your garden.

20. Mugwort 

Mugwort oil is a strong toxicant against the Red flour beetle [3].

Household Items

There are many items that you may already have in your house that can be extremely effective at either killing or driving away pests.

Items such as hot peppers, eggshells, or even used coffee grounds are effective at removing infestations.

21. Garlic

Garlic’s strong smell will help to keep away moles, gophers, and voles from your yard and garden. Place the cloves in their tunnels. However, be sure to replace them periodically. 

Alternatively, make a homemade bug spray for plants by blending 2 bulbs of garlic in a cup of water. Next, strain and mix the solution into a gallon of water along with 2 teaspoons of liquid soap.

Shake well and use this as a natural insecticide for your vegetable garden.

22. Egg Shells

Eggshells are great for your garden soil because they not only supply calcium but also discourage slugs and snails.

The sharp edges of the crushed shells will painfully scrape their gooey bodies.

23. Pepper Spray

Not the canister, however, you can use normal hot peppers to make a DIY garden bug spray. It will repel caterpillars, spider mites, maggots, mayflies, and bugs.

For the recipe, puree 5 hot peppers in 2 cups of water. Next, add a teaspoon of liquid soap. Finally, strain and use this insecticidal spray on bad insects.

24. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds also make a great natural insecticide for plants. You love it, but bugs and most animals hate the stuff.

Therefore, place coffee grounds in areas where there are bugs in the garden soil and rodents causing problems.

It also keeps away ants. Plus, it’s a great way to recycle your used coffee grounds.

25. Vinegar

A mild vinegar solution can help control garden pests. To make a natural bug repellent for plants, combine 1 cup of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap with 3 cups of water.

Next, add to a spray bottle and use it to coat your plants to control pest infestations. This concoction kills or repels fruit flies, aphids, stink bugs, mosquitoes, caterpillars, and other plant pests.

Physical Action

This is an effective measure against pesky insects that require little to no money at all.

If you see a plant with a minor infestation, you might be able to pick off the pests or remove a section of it without having to uproot or destroy the entire plant.

26. Pull Out Weak Plants

By pulling out weak plants that are likely to get infected, you are helping to maintain healthy soil and your garden will be much less appealing to pests.

If you do pull up an infected plant, be sure to wash your hands. Also, disinfect the tools so that possible diseases don’t spread the next time you use them.

27. Barriers

Nets, fences, and anything that puts a strong defense between your crops and whatever wants to munch on them.

You can even use floating row covers that block invaders but still allow sunshine in. 

28. Handpicking

A simple DIY home remedy to kill bugs without killing plants is to pick them off.

Go through your garden and manually pluck off anything you don’t want on your plants — insect eggs, adults, and larvae. Squish them or drop them in soapy water so they suffocate and die.

29. Water Pressure Sprays

Use a water hose pressure to wash pests off of your plants. However, ensure the plants are resilient enough to withstand the pressure.

A powerful blast of water can dislodge anything that may be eating your crops — aphids, mites, weevils, bugs, etc.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Pests Naturally

  • The best way to get rid of little bugs on plants is never to have them in the first place. Therefore, make your garden less desirable for them to live within by keeping it clean.
  • Additionally, avoid planting the same crop over and over in the same bed. This will help decrease soil-dwelling pests.
  • Build up your soil. Healthy soil produces healthy plants which are better able to withstand pest attacks.
  • Furthermore, there are flowers you can use to control bugs outside. Growing these plants on the edge of your garden helps keep certain critters away.

While there are many different methods of ridding your garden of vegetable pests and insects, this list highlights quite a few organic pest control and eco-friendly options.

Above all, with these remedies, you should be able to work towards a pest-free garden while feeling happy about the methods used.

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature -- sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

2 comments

  • Hello ,i recently purchased this home ,it was late in the season to do any garden work,as i wondered around the yard i noticed in the garden ,beetles!!!!!not just a few but all over the flowers that were left in the garden.It was an infestation, Im assuming they are grubs also ..My question is weather permitting in time for planting as the season approaches i want to make an herb garden ,how do i get rid of the beetles im sure they are dormant over the winter .

    • Bernice, please identify before you nullify! Many beneficial insects look like bad guys. Take clear photos, or get a sample and ask a Master Gardener or local Agriculture Department to identify. Then, if it is a pest, use least toxic methods.

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