There are a lot of insects out there, and when the summer comes, you’re probably going to see a few. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also something that we all have to deal with. But that is no excuse to let these pests prevent you from enjoying the outdoors in the coming months. Nothing makes people want to go inside more than a yard infested with insects. Check out these helpful tips to insect-proof your lawn during this summer.
Clean Up the Yard
Cleanliness is always a good general rule, but it can be a necessary step to keeping your yard insect-free. Make a habit of mowing your grass and trimming all your plants to eliminate insect breeding grounds. Also, look out for any still water in old pots, garbage bins or other open containers. These can easily become the homes of one of the more infuriating types of insects: mosquitoes. These and other pests can also hibernate and reproduce inside leaf piles or any other kinds of debris that you might have near your lawn. Use sand to dry out damp patches in grass, under the porch, or near a spigot.
Insect-Repellent Oils and Spices
There are a lot of chemicals you can use to kill bugs in your yard, but they often leave an unpleasant odor. You can avoid this drawback by using more scent-friendly, insect-repelling oils like peppermint and lemongrass. Oil-fueled torches and candles will also make your yard smell very nice.
One of the products designed to get rid of insects that unfortunately leaves a foul stench is ant repellent. It will get the job done, but you probably won’t want to be anywhere near your yard after you use it. Luckily, there are other substances that are great for killing ant colonies and that won’t leave a bad smell in the air. Chili powder will drive off a colony of ants, as will cinnamon or black pepper – the strong scent should have those pesky insects headed for the hills. And if you have a deck or veranda, use these spices to create a barrier around them to keep insects away.
Coffee grounds are another alternative due to the wide range of bugs they repel, including slugs and snails. Place dried coffee grounds in stagnant water to repel adult mosquitoes and kill larva, or burn dried coffee grounds during outdoor events to ward off a variety of flying insects. In case you’re not much of a coffee drinker, Starbucks has a policy of giving away all their spent grounds to pretty much anyone who asks for some. Check out David Wolfe’s blog for a more thorough explanation.
Another tactic for dealing with insects is a substance called diatomaceous earth. This is a white talc-like powder made from the fossilized remains of phytoplankton. When any bug with an exoskeleton (bed bugs, ants, fleas, etc.) comes into contact with it, they die within a few minutes. And while this might sound like the work of a dangerous chemical, diatomaceous earth has no detrimental effect on mammals; it is actually completely safe to eat. You can use diatomaceous earth inside and outside. Check out Mother Earth News for more details.
Keep Your Lawn Dry
One reason why lawns become hotbeds for insects is that water naturally builds up in the grass through rain or dew. When you spot a particularly moist area, a good thing to do is aerate the ground. This involves punching holes in the soil, allowing it to naturally absorb this water. Aerating will limit the areas where a nest of insects can grow without your knowledge.
Another cause of an over-moist yard could be that your lawn is suffering from poor drainage. To combat this, you can apply fill dirt that will soak up excess fluid. This issue of drainage also applies to your home’s gutters, which should be kept free of leaves, yard trimmings and any other form of debris so that insects don’t start hiding in them. Also, if you have a pool, make sure that it stays chlorinated and filtered year-round. Hire a cleaning service if you need to – you don’t want your pool to turn into a nesting ground for mosquitoes. And if you have a fountain or birdbath somewhere on your lawn, be sure to change the water at least twice a week so that any eggs in them won’t hatch.
Enemy of your Enemy
A relatively simple method of warding off insects is to enlist the aid of their natural foe: birds, which rely on small bugs as their primary food source. To encourage them to frequent your property, plant some bushes and trees where they can establish nests. A birdbath certainly wouldn’t hurt but you can be more basic and just leave out a bowl of water for them to sip on throughout the day. Just be sure to change it every few days so that it doesn’t become stagnant. If you’re looking to attract a lot of birds, invest in a birdseed or nectar feeder.
For the more adventurous homeowner looking to get rid of bugs, consider the bat. Bats consume a wide variety of insects including wasps, spiders, flies, mosquitoes and scorpions. Bats are actually better at getting rid of bugs than birds because they eat so much more. Happily, they are more scared of people than people are of them. It’s also good to remember that they are nocturnal so they will only be awake and mobile when it’s dark outside. If you are interested in using bats to keep pests from your home, you can build a bat house in your yard (you can also just buy one, if you don’t feel like breaking out the circular saw).
Insects can make your yard an unpleasant locale, but you have plenty of options for keeping them in check. Figure out which ways work for you!