Keeping helpful predators outside your home reduces interior problems. These include frogs, spiders, ladybugs, praying mantis, and dragonflies. These beneficial creatures help reduce pest populations.
There are many strategies for controlling garden pests without unduly upsetting the local ecology of your garden. These strategies include cultural controls (nutrition, resistant varieties, inter-planting, timed planting, crop rotation, mulch, trap crops, and cultivation), mechanical controls (hand picking, physical barriers, traps), biological controls (predatory and parasitic insects, microbes), and sprays and dusts. Because information is too varied to make suggestions in this limited space, we refer you to your library, colleges, and Extension Office for details on integrated and natural pest control.
Slugs and Snails
Natural Predators. Gardener snakes, grass snakes, ground beetles, box turtles, salamanders, ducks, and larvae of lightning bugs all feed on snails.
Clay Pots. Place overturned clay flower pots near the shady side of a plant. Rest one edge on a small twig or make sure that the ground is irregular enough for the slugs and snails to crawl under the rim. They will collect there during the warmest part of the day. Remove slugs and snails regularly and drop in a bucket of soapy water.
Sand, Lime, or Ashes. Snails avoid protective borders of sand, lime, or ashes.
Empty Can. Protect young plants by encircling them with a food can with both ends removed. Push the bottom end of the can into the soil.
Mashed potato powder or buds. Place instant mashed potato powder or buds in strategic places with a dish of water close by. After eating the powder or buds mice will need water. This causes fatal bloating.
Mouse Traps. Use according to label directions.
Castor Oil and Liquid Detergent. Whip together 1 tablespoon castor oil and 2 tablespoons liquid detergent in a blender until the mixture is like shaving cream. Add 6 tablespoons water and whip again. Keep this mixture out of the reach of your children and pets. Take a garden sprinkling can and fill with warm water. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture and stir. Sprinkle immediately over the areas of greatest mole infestation. For best results, apply after a rain or thorough watering. If moles are drawn to your lawn because of the grubs feeding in the soil, you may be able to rid yourself of both pests by spreading milky spore disease to kill the grubs.
Vinegar. Wash countertops, cabinets, and floor with equal pans vinegar and water to deter ant infestations.
Flour and Borax. Mix 1 cup flour and 2 cups borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar lid. Sprinkle the contents around the house foundation. Keep borax out of the reach of children and pets.
Bone meal or powdered charcoal or lemon. Set up barriers where ants are entering. They will generally not cross lines of bone meal or powdered charcoal. If you can find a hole where ants are entering the house, squeeze the juice of a lemon in the hole or crack. Then slice up the lemon and put the peeling all around the entrance.
Spearmint, Southern-wood, and Tansy. Growing these plants around the border of your home will deter ants and the aphids they carry.
Prevention. Encourage natural predators such as dragonflies or praying mantises.
Eliminate pools of stagnant water. Avoid wearing perfume, bright colors, flowery prints, and bright jewelry as these items attract mosquitoes.
Citronella. Burn citronella candles to repel insects.
Tansy or Basil. Plant tansy or basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitoes.
Prevention. Close off all gaps around pipes and electric lines where they enter the house by using cement or screening. Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures. Seal food tightly. Rinse food off dishes that are left overnight. Do not leave pet food out overnight.
Hedge Apples (Osage Orange). Cut hedge apples in half and place several in the basement, around in cabinets, or under the house to repel roaches.
Flour, Cocoa Powder, and Borax. Mix together 2 tablespoons flour, 4 tablespoons borax, and 1 tablespoon cocoa. Set the mixture out in dishes. CAUTION: Borax is toxic if eaten. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
Borax and Flour. Mix 1/2 cup borax and 1/4 cup flour and fill a glass jar. Punch small holes in jar lid. Sprinkle powder along baseboards and door sills. Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. This recipe may not be for you if there are young children or pets in the house.
Oatmeal, Flour, and Plaster of Paris. Mix equal part and set in dishes. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar. Mix equal parts and spread around infested area.
This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension.