Put “Pest Peeves” in the Past!

Annoying insects come in all shapes and sizes, from munching mosquitoes to freewheeling fruit flies. Try whipping up a pest repellent from simple ingredients that you already have on hand.

To get rid of a colony, you need to eliminate the brains behind the brawn: the queen, who’s doing nothing but churning out eggs. And here’s an easy way to do it: Sprinkle instant grits on top of the anthill. The worker ants will carry the grains into the nest, where they and Her Majesty will have a feast. Within 48 hours or so, the whole colony will be history.

Drop dollops of bacon grease into shallow containers, like jar lids or cat food cans, and set them around your kitchen. Then all you’ll need to do is pick up the traps and dump the ugly bugs into a bucket of soapy water.

Apply a liberal glob of petroleum jelly all around the inside of a glass jar, then partially fill the jar with some kind of bait, like beer-soaked bread or pieces of fruit. Wrap the outside of the jar with a paper towel, and set it where you’ve seen the bugs. They’ll crawl up the paper towel to get to the bait, fall into the jar, and then won’t be able to get back out!

To prevent spiders from webbing up your windows, spray rubbing alcohol on the sills or scatter a handful of perfumed soap shavings on the sills. Either method will deter Miss Spider from spinning her web.

Fruit flies
Fill a small glass halfway with apple cider vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid. Mix well, then set the glass away from areas where people gather. The annoying flies will be drawn to the glass, fall in, and drown.

For my money, no commercial repellent can beat the ones that you can grow in your herb garden: lemon thyme, lemon balm, and lemon basil. To put them to work, all you have to do is crush the leaves to release their volatile oils, and rub them on your skin. You’ll love the strong, citrusy scent—but skeeters will avoid you like the plague!