From mosquitoes and ants, to ticks and fleas, bugs can ruin an otherwise peaceful lawn. Pool parties, BBQs and other backyard festivities are all much less fun once the biting insects and other creepy crawlies show up. They’re not just nuisances either, bugs like mosquitoes and ticks, for instance, carry harmful diseases that put both your family and pets’ lives at risk. There’s no need to resort to toxic insecticides, either. Instead, follow these family-safe, pet-safe tips to bug-proof your yard this summer.
Maintain Your Yard
Keeping a well-maintained and organized yard goes a long way toward safeguarding your lawn & garden against pests like fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, termites, chiggers and more. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove all clutter from your yard: woodpiles, yard equipment, brush, leaves, lawn clippings, tree stumps, unused dog houses, furniture, tires, and anything else that could collect water (mosquitoes use stagnant water to breed).
- Engage in landscaping practices that expose your lawn to as much sunlight as possible (by trimming branches, tall grass, shrubbery, etc). Direct sunlight can be lethal to many bugs, like termites, chiggers, scorpions and more.
- Many bugs need lush vegetation to hide, so regularly mow, edge, weedeat, rake, and trim the hedges.
- When mowing, bag the clippings and dispose of them. Do not disperse them onto your yard—doing so helps create a bug-friendly environment, especially for ticks.
- Change and clean bird bath water regularly, or empty them during mosquito season.
- Fix leaky hoses, faucets, sprinklers, A/C units, and clogged drainage areas to prevent pooling water
- Keep pools well-maintained
- Regularly check and clean pool covers and other tarps—these often hold water, attracting bugs.
- Cover all trash cans and dumpsters
Treat Your Lawn With Naturally Sourced Pesticides
Traditional pesticides threaten not only the health of your yard, but also your family and pets. When treating your lawn, it’s important to go with a natural, eco-friendly alternative. (Tip: The best time to treat is early morning or in the evening—this helps prevent evaporation, and gives the natural repellent/pesticide sufficient time to soak into your yard). Follow these guidelines:
- Thoroughly spray the entire yard. Be sure to spray all hedges, shrubbery, flower gardens, bases of trees, and anywhere else bugs might hide.
- When spraying, pay special attention to the perimeter of your yard, including all fencing, foundations and brick barriers. This will prevent bugs from re-entering your yard after treatment.
- Spray front, back and side yards all in one session. It’s important that all areas are treated within a short window to prevent bugs from migrating to other sections of your yard.
- During the spring and summer months, we advise spraying your yard at least once per month, or as needed
Use A Mulch Barrier
A repellent mulch barrier (like those made from cedar chips) is an easy and highly effective way to prevent bugs—especially ticks—from entering your yard. For this approach: surround your lawn and garden with a thick perimeter (anywhere from 1-3 ft.) of dry mulch. Do not use damp mulches, as these can actually attract some types of bugs.
Treat Your Pets (and Yourself)
Pets and people are a common vehicle for bugs to enter your yard. Before (and after) going outdoors for walks, hikes, dog park visits, etc, it’s important to guard yourself and your pet against biting bugs like fleas and ticks (always check your pet for ticks, too!). Carrying a small bottle of bug repellent in your purse or pocket makes this easy.
Deter Wild Animals
Wild animals are one of the primary ways bugs enter your yard. Treating and keeping your lawn maintained as discussed above is the first step to making your yard inhospitable to wild animals like bug-carrying rodents. From deer to possums to racoons, here’s what you need to do to keep unwanted animals out of your yard.
- Become a dog owner. Dogs and dog urine deter animals, as canines are a natural predator to many wild animals.
- Consider installing fencing. If you already use fencing, check it thoroughly for holes, cracks and other openings animals might use to enter you yard.
- Consider replacing plants that attract animals to your yard: such as roses, apples, beans, peas, strawberries, corn, chrysanthemums, tulips and more. Or, install chicken wire fencing around your garden.
- Because ticks are especially dangerous, consider installing deer-repelling plants: such as iris, sage, chives, lemon balm, lilac, holly, and more.
- Remove or repair all sources of unnecessary moisture—such as standing water, and any leaking plumbing, drains, gutters, and sprinkler systems.
- Firmly secure all trash cans and trash can lids, or start storing trash cans in a garage or other outbuilding.
- For more tips on keeping animals out of your lawn & garden click here.
Scorpions are one of our planet’s great survivors. From scorching temperatures to below-freezing conditions, scorpions can thrive in almost any environment. Having existed for over 400 million years, there are now over 1,700 species of scorpion—these predatory arachnids can be found on every continent in the world except for Antarctica. In the U.S., scorpions are mostly limited to the Southwest, such as Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico. Unfortunately for those living in these areas, scorpions can be difficult to eliminate. In fact, some scorpions can go anywhere from six to twelve months without food, and because they’re nocturnal and active almost exclusively at night, they can be hard to properly control.
The good news, however, is that scorpions are not nearly as dangerous as people think, with most encounters being no more harmful than a bee or wasp sting. The better news is that by taking preventative measures and using various natural methods, a scorpion problem can be prevented or outright solved. Follows these 8 simple guidelines to control scorpions naturally.
Get Rid of ALL the Bugs
The first and most crucial step to controlling scorpions is general pest and insect control. By removing the scorpions’ food source, you can send these venomous arachnids packing.
When it comes to scorpions, we advise creating a repellent barrier around both your house and yard using a naturally sourced outdoor pesticide. Be sure to spray around your home’s foundation and along fence lines (this treatment should be done twice a month until the problem is resolved). Natural indoor pesticides can be used to kill individuals that have found their way into the home, and as a preventative measure to treat doorways, windowsills and baseboards.
Maintain Your Yard
Keeping a clean and well-organized yard will go along way toward safeguarding your home against scorpions. Vulnerable to dehydration—and therefore extreme heat and sun exposure—scorpions require shady, cool places to hide during the daytime before emerging to hunt at night. Make sure to do the following:
- Keep bushes and small trees landscaped. Do not allow them to overgrow and touch the outside walls of your home—scorpions use these as bridges to enter through windows or other small openings.
- Keep grass & other vegetation short and trim.
- De-clutter your yard, removing all unnecessary items: including brush, debris, decorative rocks, woodpiles, lawn equipment, etc.
Maintain Your Home
Just as crucial as de-cluttering your yard is keeping your home clean and organized. Clean—because crumbs attract bugs which in turn attract predators like scorpions. Organized—because scorpions will use everything from shoes to boxes to piles of clothing to hide. Traditionally cluttered spaces like closets and underneath beds will require attention, too.
Seal Your Home
Scorpions require openings no bigger than a credit card to enter your home. Windows, baseboards, doorways, light-switches, outlets, fixtures, wall & foundation cracks, and even ceiling fans are all potential scorpion entrances. Seal your home by remedying these cracks and openings using caulk (don’t forget to check basements and attics, too!). The same process should be repeated outdoors as well, paying close attention to the roof and any foundation/wall cracks & holes. Screens or seals should be used to ensure windows and doorways remain firmly shut, too.
Eliminate All Excess Moisture
Scorpions are prone to moisture loss and usually enter homes as a way to find water or cool down. Whether inside or outside your home, it’s important to remove puddles, standing water, and any other sources of moisture. Plumbing, basements and crawl spaces should also be kept dry and free of leaks.
Those sticky traps used to catch mice and small rats can be re-purposed as scorpion traps. Place them along common entryways, near possible water sources, and in other dark, cool spaces like closets and underneath furniture. Caution: some sticky traps contain synthetic pesticides and other toxins; for the safety of your pets and family, be sure to only purchase the non-toxic versions.
DIY Burlap Trap
A moistened burlap sack makes for an effective scorpion trap. Simply wet the sack and place it in scorpion trouble areas like basements, attics or just outside your home. Leave the bag opened and in place overnight and check it in the morning (be extremely careful when checking both inside and underneath the bag—scorpions pack a nasty sting!). Repeat this process until you no longer see scorpions in or around your home & lawn.
Lavender, cinnamon, peppermint and cedar are all essential oils said to deter scorpions. These can be diluted with a carrier oil (or smaller amounts of water) and sprayed along scorpion problem areas and entry points—such as baseboards, windowsills, doorways, and around the perimeter of your home.