Dre Campbell Farm
Squash Bugs - How to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants Naturally

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How to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants Naturally

Whether you’re a farmer or a hobbyist gardener, you’ll come across harmful garden bugs, which can take all your hard work and destroy it seemingly overnight.

There are many solutions available for dealing with pests, ranging from pesticides to nontoxic compounds to even substances you probably already have in your home.

Here are some effective home remedies to stop insects from eating your plants.

Beneficial Insects

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

As such, keeping a supply of ladybugs, spiders, praying mantises, dragonflies, hoverflies, and other beneficial insects around will reduce damage to your garden and help ensure healthy crops.

Did you know that you can buy beneficial insects for your garden? And even better — once they’re in your garden, you don’t have to worry about feeding or otherwise maintaining them!

Companion Planting

Much like the helpful bugs mentioned in the above option, companion planting is an organic option to deter pests from bothering your garden.

Companion planting isn’t just limited to flowers either — you can plant vegetables and herbs such as onions and sage.

Not only are seeds for many of these vegetables, herbs, and plants extremely affordable, but for the vegetables and herbs, you can eat them as well!

Diatomaceous Earth

A great natural insecticide for plants, DE is a powder made from fossilized aquatic creatures that get inside the exoskeleton of bugs, sucking the moisture out of them.

Liberally sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your plants for an effective killing shield against any potential moochers.

It’s safe for humans to handle, but must be reapplied after a rainstorm.

Keep in mind, it also kills the insects you want for your garden.

Organic Liquid Soap 

Dilute soap with water to make a homemade bug spray for your plants to create an effective shield against a wide variety of pests.

Use an organic castile soap and put five tablespoons in with a gallon of water for an instant soapy water solution.

Keep an eye on your leaves for any burns, signaling you to dilute the mixture even further.

You can also try an organic insecticidal soap and spray on the affected areas.


If none of the above are effective, you can also try traps. There are many kinds of traps, some of which don’t harm them at all.

1. Fly Paper

Using yellow sticky traps — any yellow board or paper that’s covered in a sticky substance — is a very effective trap.

2. Grapefruit Halves

Your morning breakfast can become your daily shield against insects.

Once you’ve eaten the fruit, use the rind as bait to attract snails and slugs and watch them (slowly) march nearby. Get rid of them as they appear.

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. Scoop them out the next norming and squish them or feed them to the birds.

3. Beer Container

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

Go figure the slimy little guys like the stuff too.

The smell coming from this little dish should eventually draw all of them in and drown them, allowing you to scoop them out and dispose of them.

Essential Oils for Pest Control

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

While many of these oils should only be used while diluted, once they’re diluted, you can just spray them on plants that have already become infected.

To use these oils, the basic application is approximately 15 drops of oil per cup of water. Place the solution into a spray bottle and apply it to the affected plants or areas.

Though be careful with oils, as some can also repel bugs that are beneficial to a garden.

1. Peppermint Oil

This one is famous for its pleasant aroma and its ability to keep out certain critters, such as stink bugs and ants. Definitely a must for any gardener.

2. Neem Oil

A famous oil among farmers everywhere, neem oil has gained a reputation as a superb insect repellent for crops.

Mix it into a solution of water and soap, spray it around and watch the insects run for cover as their hormones are thrown completely out of whack.

3. Chrysanthemum Oil

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 and other pests by literally suffocating them.

4. Pine Oil

Found from pine trees and highly effective against snails, pine oil is quite recommended for dealing with the annoying cephalopods.

Cephalopods find the smell utterly repulsive, avoiding the garden like the plague.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Great against ants, tea tree oil can easily be made into a simple solution comprised of oil and water and applied with a basic sprayer.

Best of all, aside from ants, bugs, in general, seem to hate it.

6. Thyme Oil

This extremely distinctive smell is not only good against bad bugs and other harmful insects, but it’s also effective against fungi and many types of bacteria.

Like the others, thyme oil can be easily applied with a sprayer in a water solution.

7. Lavender Oil

This one is highly regarded as a good method for keeping insects out of closets, so why shouldn’t it be used for the garden as well?

Bugs seem to hate lavender oil and it’s easily made into a water solution for the application.

8. Lemongrass Oil

Very citrusy in odor, lemongrass oil is an excellent repellent for mosquitoes and termites, making it insanely handy to have around if you’ve had termite problems in the past.

9. Orange Oil

Orange oil, incredibly sticky and irritating, is a wonderful repellent against ants, spiders, mites, termites, and even some kinds of flies.

Apply in a generous coat of solution to your plants and even your home.

10. Cinnamon Oil

This is a very safe, effective oil for use in the garden, and if you can stomach its incredibly strong odor, it makes a great deterrent for aphids (greenflies).

Cinnamon oil is also a good last resort if you’re being ambushed by bugs.

11. Basil Oil

Famous for culinary use, basil oil is a very easy oil to locate and repels not only garden pests, but also fleas.

If you’re tired of making solutions, you can burn the oil and let the smoke permeate the garden.

12. Mugwort Oil

Infamous as a therapeutic treatment, mugwort oil can actually double as a garden defender against the equally infamous cowpea weevil, the bane of beans everywhere.

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.

These items — such as hot peppers, eggshells, or even just plain soap and water — are effective at removing pest infestations.

Better yet, they are often cheap on the wallet: even if you don’t have these items at home, you can get them easily and relatively economically.

1. Garlic

Forget the vampire non-nonsense, you have a bigger problem in your garden.

Garlic’s strong smell once stuck into the soil around plants, will help to keep insects and bugs away.

Be sure to replace the garlic bulb periodically to avoid rotting. 

2. Egg Shells

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

The sharp edges of the shells can painfully scrape their gooey bodies, so it’s a good deterrent against them.

3. Pepper Spray

Not the canister, you use normal pepper into a solution of dish soap to help repel spider mites and other similar insects.

Paprika, dill, and ginger also work for the same purpose. 

4. Coffee Grounds

You love coffee, but bugs positively hate it.

Use this to your advantage by placing coffee grounds in areas where insects, specifically ants are a problem.

It’s a straight-up killer for ants. Plus, it’s a great way to recycle your used coffee grounds.

Physical Action

Here’s an effective measure against the critters that require little to no money at all — that of taking physical action.

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.

1. Pull Out Weak Plants

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

If you do pull up an infected — or even suspected infected plant, be sure to disinfect those tools so that the disease doesn’t spread the next time you use those tools.

2. Barriers

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

You can even use floating row covers, which are either fabric or plastic barriers laid out on the soil that block invaders but still allow sunshine in. 

3. Handpicking

If you have the time, sharp eyes, and the patience for it, go through your garden and manually pluck anything you don’t want off your plants. Egg sacs, bugs, spores, etc.

This is an effective way to ensure that nothing unwanted gets in. 

4. Water Pressure Sprays

You can use water pressure to wash the pests — just make sure the plant is resilient enough to withstand the pressure you’re using on it!

A powerful blast of water can dislodge most anything that may have gotten a foothold on your crops, such as aphids and mites.

However, the drawback is that this process must be repeated frequently for best results and can only be used on sturdy plants that won’t get demolished.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Pests Naturally

  • The best way to get rid of the critters is never to have them in the first place! Make your garden less desirable for them to live within by keeping it clean.
  • There are also specialty pheromones and even flowers you can use to control pests. Placing the pheromones on the edge of your garden keeps pests away.
  • Follow it up with plants such as zinnias and asters that attract pests outside of your garden, further keeping them away from your plants.


While there are many different methods of ridding your garden of pests, hopefully, this list has shown you that there are quite a few that are organic and less toxic for the environment.

Some of these options don’t even harm them, instead, redirecting them into another area. With these tips, you should be able to work towards a pest-free garden while feeling happy about the methods used!

Andre Campbell


  • 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.