Bug repellents do just what the name implies—repel bugs that may harm your fruit trees and spread to surrounding plants. Keeping insects at bay is easily done with commercial repellents, but most of them also contain chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment. Plus, they are expensive compared to recipes you can whip up at home, likely with ingredients you already have around. Three effective ingredients are garlic, essential oils, and alcohol. The key is creating the right combination to offend the little pests while protecting your fruit-bearing trees.
Garlic has been used to ward off bugs for centuries. The repulsive smell drives them out of the area. Make garlic-based repellents in your kitchen, perhaps from garlic you’ve grown in your own yard, and use it to protect the fruit you’re growing on your trees. It’s a full, sustainable circle right in your yard.
There are few ingredients involved in making a natural garlic-based repellent. In fact, you may even see results from simply burying garlic cloves around the base of your fruit trees.
When making a spray, the goal is simply to seep the qualities (and smell) out of the garlic. The ratio of garlic to liquid is a matter of personal preference and trial and error. Start with a full bulb of garlic cloves, minced, and soak it in one half-gallon of water. This is a medium-strength recipe to work from. You can also add liquid hot sauce or hot pepper spices such as Cayenne. Let the concoction sit overnight and then strain out the garlic before funneling it into a spray bottle. For additional effectiveness, add a tablespoon of all-natural soap to the mix.
Apply the spray to your fruit trees a few times a week, being sure to spray the bottom of leaves where bugs like to lay eggs. Store your garlic mixture in the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.
Essential oils are distilled and concentrated natural oils found in plants, which make them a powerful natural tool in the repellent fight. These highly concentrated oils need to be distilled before use, but they are easy to find on the internet and in stores. You will want to vary the type of oil you use depending on the bugs you wish to keep away, since insects respond differently to different oils. Experiment with single and combined scents to see what works best for your fruit trees. Here are a few options.
Lemon and/or Eucalyptus
Create a mixture with these herbs separately or with the oils together. Simply use one part lemon-eucalyptus oil to 10 parts witch hazel. If you don’t have witch hazel, it is easy to find in the pharmacy or first aid department of most general stores. You can also mix the essential oil with sunflower oil. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and apply to your trouble areas.
Citronella and/or Peppermint
When you head to the store for bug repellent candles, you’re likely to find them infused with peppermint or citronella, so why not mix up a recipe in spray form to help with your fruit tree bug invasion? Just combine the following ingredients and put in a spray bottle for use.
2 ounces water
1.5 ounces witch hazel (you can also use vodka)
25-30 drops of both citronella and peppermint essential oils
15 drops of Tea Tree
Using these recipe techniques, feel free to substitute spearmint, rosemary, thyme, clove, or geranium essential oils.
These sprays are made with rubbing alcohol and deter many different insects. Alcohol can cause damage to apple trees, so test the spray in a small area before you spray all of your trees.
In the recipes above, you can use rubbing alcohol in place of the sunflower oil or witch hazel. You can also use vodka instead of rubbing alcohol. The ingredients are basically the same as those already mentioned, with slight variations to include the alcohol.
15 drops each of geranium and citronella essential oils
10 drops of three other essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, lemonbalm, peppermint, or clove
½ tablespoon of vodka or rubbing alcohol
¼ cup witch hazel
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp glycerin if desired. Order a food-grade brand online.
Again, mix ingredients and use via spray bottle.
With some experimentation, you can control your bug problem naturally, while keeping your fruit trees prosperous and fruitful.