3 Natural Pest Control Options in Entomology 

It’s no wonder insects are often referred to as pests. Discovering that six-legged intruders have invaded your garden overnight, intent on decimating your carefully cultivated vegetables, is undoubtedly disheartening. The sight of a cockroach scurrying under your refrigerator is equally unsettling. 

While you could resort to spraying pesticides in your home and garden to eliminate these pests, the chemicals in pesticides carry potential health risks, from skin conditions to neurological deficiencies. If you’re uncomfortable with having insecticide residue in your home or if the idea of consuming vegetables with pesticide residues roils your stomach, you’re not alone. 

Put your pesticides aside as we discuss three natural pest control options to keep those unruly bugs at bay. 

#1 Use Natural Repellant Ingredients 

It’s easier to create natural pest repellents than you might think. In fact, you might already have some of these ingredients lying around your home. Below, we explore some simple yet effective natural ingredients you can use to make your own eco-friendly pest control creations: 

Essential Oils 

Essential oils offer health benefits beyond aromatherapy, serving as effective natural pest control agents. When mixed with water in a spray bottle, they can create a potent natural insect repellent tailored to the specific type of insect you wish to repel: 

  • Eucalyptus: This oil is ideal for reducing the number of flies and roaches. 
  • Citronella: Mosquitoes are not fond of the strong smell associated with citronella oil. 
  • Peppermint: If you’re looking to deter ants or spiders, peppermint is highly effective. 

Coffee Grounds 

In all seriousness, what can’t coffee make better? It helps us greet the day with a smile on our faces, it’s the pick-me-up we all want after a long day and it doubles as eco-friendly pest control. 

That’s right, you can reuse this morning’s coffee grounds to fight off unwanted pests, such as ants and destructive garden slugs and snails. Its powerful scent works to mask the smell —and items — insects are really after, and it becomes even more potent if you use burnt coffee grounds. 

Here are the steps to crafting the most potent coffee-ground bug repellant: 

  • Step 1: Use the coffee grounds to brew your coffee. If you’re a coffee drinker, take a moment to enjoy your freshly brewed cup. Afterward, add more water to the coffee maker and filter the grounds a second time. 
  • Step 2: Enhance the flavor and aroma by carefully placing the twice-used grounds in a dry pan and cooking them until dry. 
  • Step 3: Allow the grounds to cool, then sprinkle them around areas where you notice ants and slugs. This will help repel them from garden veggies, doorways or cracks. 

#2 Incorporate Insect-Repellant Plants 

You can have your bug repellant (and eat some of it, too)! Certain plants provide an ideal natural pest control, thanks to their distinct scents that repel many unwanted insects. If you’re dealing with annoying, disease-carrying mosquitoes in the mornings and evenings, try adding a few of these eco-friendly, bug-repellant plants to your landscape to reduce the mosquito population: 

  • Lavender 
  • Marigolds 
  • Citronella grass 
  • Catmint 
  • Rosemary 
  • Basil 
  • Mint 
  • Sage 

#3 Incorporate Biological Controls 

In the context of natural pest control, biological controls refer to using living organisms to reduce pest populations. Biological controls are useful when you want to remove pests from outside areas, such as gardens or landscaping. 

These “natural enemies” of pests come in many forms, including: 

  • Predators: Pest-reducing predators include ladybeetles, predatory mites and ladybugs. 
  • Parasitoids: A parasitoid is an organism that spends much of its life inside or attached to a living host. While they don’t kill their hosts outright, parasitoids forfeit the host’s life as part of their reproductive strategy. Aphelinid wasps and tachinid flies are both examples of parasitoids that may help prevent certain insects from developing and spreading. 
  • Pathogens: Integrated Pest Management (IPM) sometimes incorporates pathogens, such as fungi, nematodes and bacteria, to cause diseases in unwanted pests. For example, Bacillus thuringiensis is a protein-producing bacteria. Its protein is toxic to certain insects, and many IPMs use it to control insects in large batches of crops. 

Rid The World of Pests One Natural Remedy at a Time 

Despite your efforts to reduce the number of pests in your environment, they often manage to return. Fortunately, pest management professionals possess a comprehensive understanding of these pests and, armed with a toolbox of strategies aimed at reducing their numbers, can effectively keep them at bay. 

At the University of Florida, we aim to ignite your passion for pest management. We offer a range of specializations in entomology depending on your areas of interest: 

In each of these specializations, you have the option to pursue a 15-credit online graduate certificate focusing on one area. For those seeking a more comprehensive education, we also provide an entirely online 30-credit master’s degree program. This program allows you to select one of the aforementioned specializations while gaining a broad understanding of entomology. 

All of our online programs offer benefits including: 

  • The flexibility to complete your work at your convenience. 
  • Affordable tuition. 
  • No GRE scores required. 
  • Year-round start dates. 

Choose the program that aligns with your future in entomology, and apply today


Learn More About the Program

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