illustrated people fighting off garden pests

Natural And Effective Pest-Control Techniques

All winter, you think about sitting in your lush garden and enjoying your backyard with friends and family. You tend flowers and shrubs. You plant an array of yummy veggies. And when it’s finally warm enough to sit outside … the irritating buzz of insects invades your outdoor retreat, and you notice a bunny has chewed through your seedlings.

While there’s no such thing as a pest-free garden or yard, experts say a few easy precautions can keep uninvited guests from your outdoor space.

The Critters: Caterpillars

Control Them: When dealing with leaf-chewing worms like caterpillars, use a larvicide such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring pesticide. It can protect your fruits and vegetables (by paralyzing the worms’ digestive system) without harming other insects that may be beneficial to your garden, says Wendy Hanson Mazet, program coordinator at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Reapply once a week until all the critters are gone.

The Critters: Mosquitoes

Control Them: Now that Zika has made its way into the States, it’s more critical than ever to repel disease-carrying mosquitoes. Eliminating sources of standing water will help prevent them from reproducing, says Michael Waldvogel, professor of entomology at NC State University. Try planting citronella, marigolds or lavender, which can ward off these pesky biters.

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The Critters: Wild Mammals

Control Them: To keep nibbling animals at bay, install a fence at least four feet high and buried six inches into the ground, and wrap trees with two-foot-wide hardware cloth, says Clyde Sorenson, professor of entomology at NC State. And keep your trash secure to protect it from hungry raccoons.

aphidThe Critters: Aphids

Control Them: These bugs feed on leaves, causing curling and discoloration, says Hanson Mazet. Hit plants with a forceful spray of water in the morning (when your hose water is cold and the bugs are too sleepy to fly away); in many cases this will kill the soft-bodied aphids. Avoid nitrogen fertilizers, since the bugs are attracted to the chemical.ant

The Critters: Ants

Control Them: Installing a paved patio about 10 feet from the house to the lawn can help keep ants away, says landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy. (It reduces areas where they can nest.)  Don’t plant the area close to the patio with flowers that produce nectar, such as peonies and tulips, which the bugs feed on.

tickThe Critters: Ticks

Control Them: Create a tick barrier by laying a three-foot-wide buffer of wood chips or rocks between recreational areas of the yard and woods that it borders, says Messervy. Doing this may also help reduce encounters with mosquitoes, too.



Garden Guardians, while you shield your yard from critters, let the GEICO Insurance Agency help you protect your home. Get a fast, free homeowners insurance quote today.

Read more: Get a beautiful yard with these landscaping tips

By Nicole Cherie Jones

Illustration by Jason Schneider

GEICO can help protect your home.

    Leave a comment

  1. Exterminator Concord NC says,

    Great article. I own a pest control company in concord NC and we do a lot of wildlife removal for our clients as well. I love the graphics.

  2. Geneva Lewis says,

    I am having a problem with the lizard like pest, Geiko. may be spelled wrong.
    I have them in my garage. I know they are not harmful but they poop all over my garage floor and sometimes on the wall. I am sick and tired trying to keep my garage clean. Does anyone know haw to get rid of them, besides using moth balls. I can’t take the smell of moth balls.
    Thanks for any help

  3. Fred Harvey says,

    Try this! The easiest way to deal with indoor pests is to keep them from coming indoors in the first place. Easier said than done, but I had good results with using a vinegar and essential oils spray on the outside of our doors where flies and ants were coming in. I mixed 2 cups of water with 1 cup of white vinegar, 50 drops of peppermint essential oil, 20 drops of basil essential oil and 20 drops of lemon essential oil. It actually didn’t smell bad but seemed to repel the insects.

  4. Steve Holt says,

    Thanks for the tips! I want to keep my windows open during the summer, but all of the flies that come in my house makes me want to shut my window. The air conditioning in my house doesn’t work, so opening my window is the best option I have to keep cool. You had a great tip in this article that could help me prevent flies from coming in my house. Using a physical barrier like a fly screen should allow me to keep the windows open without letting any insects in. I should find one that’s the right size for my window so that I can keep it open to keep me cool.

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