Gardens Illustrated

How to stop annoying bugs and insects in your garden

Published: July 5, 2021 at 9:47 am

Tired of wasps, flies and bugs crashing your garden party? Here's how to safely (and in MOST cases non-lethally) stop them from bothering you while you're relaxing or dining this summer.

How to stop getting bugged in the garden

You know what it's like. The sun appears... You break out the garden furniture... And perhaps a sweet treat or cocktail or two… And you're swamped by a plague of garden beasties of near-biblical proportion. So how do you break out an al fresco Calippo without breaking out in bug bites?


The outdoor experts from have years of experience supplying the ultimate retreats to help you better enjoy your garden and have picked up more than a few tips along the way to help you to keep those garden get togethers strictly invitation only.

Best of all, you name it, worms, bees, wasps, and (heaven forbid) mosquitos most can be kept at bay without causing harm to the insect by using entirely swat and poison-free natural methods.

Charles Walton, CEO of said: “As we all head to our gardens and outdoor spaces, it is inevitable that pesky bugs will interrupt our fun at some point. We want to prevent you from getting bugged whilst out in the garden and keep some of the more common pests out of the way of BBQs, picnics and good times. However, the repellent and technique used will purely depend on the bug that is bothering you.”

Here are some top tips:


Create a roadblock

Safest and simplest of all. Incredibly, it's often very easy to stop winged beasts from bothering you simply erecting simple barriers that – despite having the ability to simply fly over or around – will miraculously create an impasse to creatures not smart enough to figure out their edges. Low flying insects such as carrot flies wont fly more than three feet off the ground so a simple blanket strung between chairs will be enough to create your own private no fly zone.

Meanwhile below the ground, creating a small barrier around young or weaker plants will stop leaves from getting nibbled on and extend their life. Consider covering shoots or growing vegetables with cardboard toilet roll tubes or other light coating that doesn’t block the sun. This will act as a wall, preventing access for even the most active (but easily distracted) worm looking for food.

Fatalities: None


Go minty

Thinking of trying a mojito in your garden this summer? Excellent idea. Minty smells are especially effective at putting off from aphids and ants. Plant spearmint or the slightly prettier pennyroyal throughout your garden to keep pests away, giving you space to enjoy eating in peace.

Wasps and hornets are found in almost every garden over summer, and – good news – they're mint haters too. Spray the garden areas that are frequently covered in wasps with some peppermint oil in diluted water, one part to five.

Mosquitos are most active on warm evenings, so cover up any bare skin to prevent getting bitten. But rather than using chemical-based products to repel the nasty biters, opt for crushed lavender flowers. Rub the mixture on areas that are particularly sensitive and susceptible to bites – bare ankles, fleshy bare arms, even your tan-in-progress mid-riff.

The fragrance and oils produced repel adult mosquitoes, and lavender has analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities, meaning it will also calm and soothe the skin. Double win.

Fatalities: None


Natural insecticides

Natural insecticides generally have a botanical base, meaning they are derived from plants with insecticidal properties but are still poisonous to pests. However, compared to chemical pesticides, they have fewer toxic effects and are better for the environment. Natural insecticides like pyrethrum can be sprayed on vegetables, flowers, ornamentals, and indoor plants to repel a range of pests.

Insects that hate the stuff include aphids, flea beetles, flies, and spider mites.

Fatalities: Low


Don't spare the salt

Yes, even humble salt can be used as anti-beastie weapon. While we're all trying to cut down our salt intake, nasties such as slugs find the stuff actually deadly. Slugs are soft-bodied animals that are persistent and widespread pests. They can cause damage throughout the year on a wide range of plants, munching holes in leaves, stems, flowers, and bulbs. These slimy pests are not only a nuisance, but they also leave nasty shiny track marks on surfaces where they've slithered.

Laying salt around their entry point into the house will form an impenetrable, uncrossable barrier. Alternatively sprinkling it onto them will kill them instantly…

Fatalities: Medium (to High, depending on application)


Salt… and vinegar

If you're plagued by ants then you have go in hard to make them go home. I.e. As much as you might want to reason with them, ants aren't great listeners. Ant poison is nasty stuff and can be harmful to pets but there's a simpler, cheaper safer (not to ants, mind you) option.

Mix a vinegar and water solution, 50/50, in a spray bottle. Spraying this onto surfaces provides a significant deterrent to keep ants. Spray it around windowsills, doorways and other ant entry points into the home. It works so well because ants hate the smell of vinegar PLUS – bonus – it removes the scent trails that they use to get around.

And if you want to go in hard, spraying directly onto ants will – yes – kill them instantly…

Fatalities: Zero (to High, depending on application)


Bye bye birdies

Birds are of course very welcome in our gardens but can cause significant damage to edible crops by removing leaves and buds. This can happen surprisingly quickly as birds often feed in flocks and target gardens early in the morning when they’re less likely to be disturbed. Therefore covering plants with netting or fleece is a good idea, but make sure to peg the material into the ground.

Alternatively if the area to protect is too large to cover, or if you're trying to dodge bird 'doings' on your car or patio, or if you're entertaining an ornithophobe it's easy to make an inobtrusive device to politely scare them away. Got an old CD collection? Give your CD player (and your ears) a well-earned rest and instead suspend Westlife's Greatest Hits from a string in your garden. Movement in the wind will cause a flashing distraction that birds will naturally shy away from.

Fatalities: Zero


Create a distraction

If flying insects are finding your chardonnay/ice cream/aperol spritz/[insert something delicious here] irresistible then why not make them their own special treat to 'enjoy' rather than yours? We say 'enjoy' as – hands up – these easy and effective solutions aren't exactly 'bug friendly'.

Add a couple of spoons of jam to a jar (or liberate a nearly finished pot) and top up with hot water. The jam will dissolve in the water and create a sweet nectar that – while almost undetectable to the human schnoz – broadcasts 'banquet' to any flying insects in the neighbourhood.

Tie a string around the top and hang around head-height from a tree or fence post.

Now, rather than being hell bent on committing hari-kari in your daiquiri, they'll turn tail and locate your tailor-made offering and climb inside to sip deeply… before getting stuck in the jar and – gulp – you can guess the rest.

And despite how many bodies your waspy friends have to clamber over, your jam jar of doom will prove to be the gift that keeps on… um… 'taking' all summer long.

Alternatively if your patio is plagued with fleshy-bodied slugs and slithering things at ground level, why not bury a discarded food tray lip-deep in the soil? Now fill your mini medieval moat with an inch of beer and cover to prevent the rain from swilling away the good stuff. Now rather than slithering onto your patio, they'll choose to take dip in your new beer-pool instead. Permanently.

Still, maybe they died happy, eh?


Fatalities: High


Daniel GriffithsDigital Editor

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest home and entertainment brands in the world. He is a serial house-renovator and home improvement expert, taking on everything from interior design and DIY to landscape gardening and garden design.


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