Use nature’s own products to banish pests

Sherrie Versluis Feathered Friends
Sherrie Versluis
Feathered Friends

Summer treats us to beautiful weather, gardens and many great outdoor activities, but of course it brings pests, too! Here are some natural ways to enjoy what’s left of the season without being bothered by uninvited guests!

Wasps
For many people, wasps are a real deterrent to being outside. They can sting for almost no reason, it seems, and allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Here are some techniques to help keep wasps and hornets away.

The perennial pests of a Winnipeg summer - wasps (photo by Gezz)
The perennial pests of a Winnipeg summer – wasps (photo by Gezz)…

Use a spray bottle filled with two cups (500 ml) of water and add 30 drops of peppermint essential oil. Add two tablespoons of dish soap to make the spray better adhere to surfaces.

You can spray this on the ground, on the backs of patio chairs or under patio tables. If your wasps have been starting to build a nest, spraying this in the area will deter them. You can stop wasps from going under the deck by spraying this solution between boards or just putting down drops of the pure peppermint oil.

Wasp traps are another popular option but they’re often misused. These traps are made of coloured glass and are shaped like a bottle. There is a cork at the top opening but the bottom of the bottle has a hole in it. There is also a hanger attached at the top, so you can easily hang it in an area where wasps are a problem.

The idea is to put a bait in the bottle, and the wasps will fly into the hole on the bottom and be unable to get out. The problem is most people use sweet bait such as pop or sugar water. This can attract bees and they are not the target. We have all heard by now how bee populations are declining, so every bee counts!

Put meat in your bottle to save a bee and attract just wasps! Wasps love meat of any kind: people use cold cuts, or bacon, or hamburger, etc. You can use raw or cooked meat, but I recommend cooked so it won’t rot quickly in the heat. Empty the bottle as needed. If you are not sure if the wasps are all dead you can invert the bottle and fill with water before you empty it.

Fake nests are another deterrent, as wasps are territorial. These nests are made of a vinyl-like fabric and designed to be hung on your property to discourage wasps. The nests should be stuffed with a newspaper or other material to give it the appearance of being a full nest. The important part is to make sure the hanging nest is very stable, as a real nest would normally be.

Mosquitoes

... and mosquitoes (photo by Mika Mamy).
… and mosquitoes (photo by Mika Mamy).

There is no need to explain how mosquitoes annoy us. They’re truly one of the most irritating flying insects ever! For repellents to use on your skin, consider lemon eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon, or thyme essential oils mixed with sunflower or olive oil.

Firepots with a container that will hold citronella fire gel work great and are beautiful decorations for the yard. Just light a firepot and enjoy the warm flame.

You can also get an essential oil diffuser that has a dish for filling with water; add a few drops of the above mentioned oils or pure citronella oil to the water. There is a holder under this glass dish to put a little candle. It will warm the water/oil mix, diffuse the aroma into the air and repel mosquitoes. These works well on patio tables and the fragrances are pleasant.

You can even purchase mosquito-repelling incense that is totally natural and works very well. For more information on safe repellents and essential oils you can email us at The Preferred Perch: preperch@mymts.net.

Sherrie Versluis owns The Preferred Perch on St. Mary’s Road in St Vital.

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