Tips on how to get rid of pests

I'm am just on my way up to my allotment to sprinkle some curry powder on it, sound a bit odd? Well I have a major ant problem and they seem to hate the smell of curry powder and especially high capsicum spices like cayane pepper. One of biggest banes of the gardeners life is pests, they can eat all of your plants before you do  or to make matters worse they can spread disease from plant to plant. Here some tips on how to get rid of them without using pesticides. To find out what pests you have, place some yellow dishes filled with water on your plot, check it the next day, it should be full of insects that are attracted to the yellow who will have drowned in it.

Please scroll down or use these quick links. Ants, Aphids, Slugs, Moles, Mice, Birds , Wasps , plants to deter pests or use your computers find facility on a mac use apple key -F, Pc users cmnd - F


Grow lavender to get rid of ants, this only works when they start to flower and give off that distinct smell. Tansy and Curry plant both seem to work as well.

Sprinkle salt, cayenne pepper or curry powder all over your patch this will also keep ants away. They don't seem to like crossing over a line of cayenne pepper so you can try circling your plants with it.

The age old trick of pouring boiling water on the ants nest is probably the best way to rid yourself of ants.

Place a half squeezed orange on the ground where you get the most ants, this should soon fill with the little blighters, you can then put the orange on a bird table who should eat them.

Finally a method Dave has heard of and he has successfully tried is to sprinkle some course semolina or polenta down .  The ants will take this back to her queen for food, as she can't digest it (in the same way a s pigeons and alkasetza) she will explode. No queen means no eggs and the nest will soon disappear .  This way is a lot more Buddhist as you are only really killing one ant at a time the workers have a short life span and will vanish if no more are hatched to replace them.


aphids on strawberries - photo taken by g blanningThese follow on nicely from ants as it is often said rid yourself of aphids and you will have no ants.  It was either this or the semolina which got rid of mine. 

The most effective organic method is to spray your plants with soapy water.  This got rid of all the blackfly on my broad-beans. - To dissagree with Dave I do not think that this is Organic as you are still using a chemical, I have since been told that milk has the same effect, I am about to try this out later on today.(andy)

Ladybirds and lacewings can be bought and introduced, they both have a huge appetite for aphids. Try planting tansy or yarrow as both will attract ladybirds.

Yellow flowers like marigolds will attract predatory pollinating insects like hover flys which will eat the aphids.


slug trapTo make a simple slug trap get a small pop bottle, cut off the funnel shaped neck and turn it upside down and place it back into the bottle. The picture above is an example. Then put a few ml of stale beer in the bottom and leave it on its side by the place you get the most slugs. Loving the smell of beer it should fill with slugs, who will drown in the beer unable to get out.

A more nature friendly way of combating slugs is to install a pond, this can be as small as 30cm (1 foot) squared you will still attract enough slug eating frogs.

Comfrey placed around the edge of the bed under rocks will give the slugs an alternative food source and they seem to prefer it to a lot of plants.

A length of wood place alongside your row can act as a place for slugs to hide in dry weather. Simply pick off the slugs each time you head up to your plot.

Egg shells and pistachio nut shells also deter slugs as they hate rough surfaces.

Not only do slugs hate seaweed, but it doubles up as a great fertilizer as well. For many more organic ways to get rid of slugs have a look here.


The vibrations from a child's windmill on a mole hill should deter even the feistiest of moles.

They hate the smell of orange peel, so put a few bit down there run.

Cats and moles don't get along, make sure you want a cat before considering getting one just to rid yourself of moles.


Mice and all rodents love pumpkin and marrow seeds this can be used as effective bait in a rodent trap.

Minty toothpaste is supposed to deter mice as is bars of soap hanging near your plants. (never had a problem with mice though, that's why this section is so short)

A plastic water bottle with the top cut off can be an effective barrier against birds and mice nibbling your sunflower and corn seedlings.


Netting is by far one of the most effective ways of minimising bird attack.  They will however sneak in to the smallest of gaps which I discovered after losing most of my cabbages one year.
An old metal shopping basket also works in the same way
Thin black cotton thread weaver between bamboo supports is supposed to work against birds eating beans and peas.
A scarecrow is also a cheap and sometimes effective way of scaring birds.


In the home, pub and in general these winged creatures are pests, in the garden they are not. There are many types of wasps and some are beneficial to the gardener. They will help reduce your pest level, introduce flowering plants such as Anise, Chamomile, Chervil, Dandelion (be careful where you introduce this as it can take over), Fennel, Hyssop, Mint (as dandelion), Ivy, soybean, sunflowers and yarrow will help you keep an almost pest free plot.


Of course it is better not to get pests in the first place, so here is a short list of plants and what pests they deter.

African marigold - nematodes
Anise - Aphids, fleas, cabbage worms
Borage - Japanese beetles, tomato horn worms
Caper spurge - moles
Catnip - ants, aphids, colorado beetles, darkling beetles, japanese beetles, squash bugs, weevils
Celery - cabbage butterflies
Chives - japanese beetles
Clover - cabbage root flies
Dill - aphids, spider mites
Fennel - aphids
French Marigold - mexican bean beetles, nematodes
Garlic - good as an all round insect repellant (and vampires)
Hyssop - flea beetles, cabbage butterflies
Leek - carrot root flies
Marigold - nematodes and good next to cabbage as it deters many cabbage pests
Mustard - aphids
Nasturtium - aphids, cabbage worms, colorado beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies
Onion - carrot root flies
Radish - cucumber beetles, root flies, vine borers
Rosemary - bean beetles, cabbage moths, carrot root flies
Rye - nematodes
Tansy - ants, aphids, cabbage worms, colorado beetles, squash bugs, japanese beetles
Wormwood - Mice, slugs, snails, a good general insect repellant and also rodents.


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