Garden Guy Recipes for Getting Rid of Insects

orange peel


My top four favorite bug killing DIY solutions that I use in my home & garden

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceaous Earth (DE) is a single-celled organism and is a chalk-like powder that is made up entirely of these diatoms that have fossilized over thousands of years. While Food Grade DE is safe to use on humans, it is harmful to insects and contains no toxins of any kind. It sticks to insects and wicks valuable moisture away from their exoskeletons, fatally dehydrating them. The great thing about this non-toxic powder is that you can sprinkle it in your garden, around your plants, or even on that line of ants in your kitchen.

Orange Oil
Orange oil wipes out or repels entire colonies and prevents re-infestations. D-limonene (the main constituent of orange oil) is harmless to humans, but deadly to most insects because it dissolves the waxy coating on the exoskeleton causing dehydration and asphyxiation. One application of orange oil will destroy a full colony of ants and its powerful scent will eradicate the pheromone trail left behind by the ants. Orange oil also is great for killing flies as it blinds them and eventually kills them.  This oil is so effective at killing many bugs so be aware of which bugs you are spraying, as this can also kill beneficial bugs and pollinators.

Cedar Oil
Cedar oil affects octopamine, a compound that is essential to life for pheromone-driven “bad bugs” like fleas and ticks. Octopamine is responsible for regulating heart rate, movement, and behavior in pests.  Cedar oil blocks the octopamine neurotransmitter receptors in pests, causing them to be repelled from the area. When bad bugs come in contact with cedar oil, pests suffocate and die. Mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and beneficial insects are not affected by cedar oil because they do not have octopamine neurotransmitters.

Neem oil
Great for particularly bad infestations.  This natural insecticide dissolves the waxy coating of many hard-to-kill garden parasites, dehydrating, and eventually killing them.  Neem oil not only works on adult insects it also kills larvae and eggs, making Neem oil a super-effective all-natural method for reducing populations of insect pests.

If you need help to determine which bug you have, grab a copy of The Garden Guy’s Southwest Bug Guide!

Using essential oils to kill and repel insects in your home and garden

There are many essential oils out there that can repel and kill creepy crawlies around your house and in your garden. You can use these essential oils in your watering can or as a bug spray and I recommend buying only certified organic oils.

  • Ants: Peppermint, spearmint, garlic, citronella, orange, cedarwood
  • Aphids: Cedarwood, hyssop, peppermint, spearmint, orange, cedarwood
  • Beetles: Peppermint, thyme, garlic, cedarwood, orange
  • Caterpillars: Peppermint, spearmint, cedarwood, orange
  • Chiggers: Lavender, lemongrass, sage, thyme, cedarwood, orange
  • Cutworm: Thyme, sage, cedarwood, orange
  • Fleas: Lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, cedarwood, citronella, tansy, orange
  • Flies: Lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sage, citronella, tansy, cedarwood, orange, lemongrass, lemon, thyme, tea tree, sandalwood, patchouli
  • Gnats: Patchouli, spearmint, orange, citronella, tagetes, cedarwood, peppermint, eucalyptus, rose geranium
  • Mosquitoes: Lavender, lemongrass, orange, citronella, tansy, cedarwood, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, thyme, rose geranium, clove, blue cypress, cinnamon, sage
  • Plant Lice: Peppermint, spearmint, cedarwood, orange
  • Moths: Cedarwood, hyssop, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, citronella, orange
  • Roaches: Cedarwood, eucalyptus, cinnamon, thyme, orange
  • Slugs: Cedarwood, hyssop, pine, garlic, orange
  • Snails: Cedarwood, pine, patchouli, garlic, orange
  • Spiders: Peppermint, spearmint, lemon, lime, orange, citrus, lavender, citronella, cedarwood
  • Ticks: Lavender, lemongrass, orange, sage, thyme, citronella, tea tree, geranium, cedarwood, tansy, eucalyptus, sweet myrrh
  • Weevils: Cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, orange


A broad-spectrum essential oil insect repellent

Mix equal parts of rosemary, peppermint, thyme, and clove oils (about 10 drops of each) in a spray bottle filled with water. Remember to shake well before each use. Apply anywhere you want to get rid of skittering, creeping, crawling, or flying pests.

Organic general spray

  • Compost tea
  • Molasses
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Liquid seaweed
  • Stockings
  • Bucket
  • Compost

Disease and Insect Control

  • Garlic
  • Garlic pepper tea
  • Orange oil


  • 1 pint white vinegar
  • 4 oz. Orange oil
  • 1 tsp. basic “H” (available at

Non-beneficial nematodes

  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel

Scorpion control

  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Cinnamon
  • Orange guard

Flea control

  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Beneficial nematodes
  • Orange oil
  • Compost tea

Fungus control

  • Cornmeal

Kills things

  • 2 oz. orange oil per gallon of water
  • 1/3 molasses
  • 1/3 cup liquid humic


  • Dr. Bronners peppermint spray

Baking soda fungicide

  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil per gallon

Vinegar fungicide

  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon for black spots

Dave Owens the Garden Guy
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