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The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Control in the Garden

From ants to squash vine borers, organic and natural pest control for 20 common garden pests, plus tips for encouraging beneficial insects & other allies.

Are you looking for natural pest control options for the garden? Like many home gardeners, I started growing my own fruits and vegetables in part to avoid the toxic chemicals used on most commercial produce. After all, why put in all that time and effort to eat poison? It didn't make sense to me.

Just walking down the chemical isle in the hardware store, i.e., the “garden helper area” or whatever they call it, gives me a headache. Sometimes I purchase certain organic pest control products, but often you can get rid of garden pests with what you have on hand.

The old tip about the best defense being a good offense still stands, too. The healthier your plants, the less likely you are to have garden bugs doing serious damage. I also encourage beneficial insects and animals to help get rid of problem bugs. See Working with Nature – Shifting Paradigms, Building Soils Naturally: Innovative Methods for Organic Gardeners and Mycorrhizal Planet – Nurturing Fungi to Build Soil Fertility and Support Plant Health for more information on building a healthy garden ecosystem.

In this post we’ll cover how to get rid of 20 common garden pests – or at least minimize their damage so you can still get a harvest. Remember, a natural pesticide is still a pesticide. Always use pest control, even organic pest control, mindfully and selectively.

If you're looking for natural and organic pesticides, check out Homemade Bug Spray for the Garden – 3 Easy Recipes. These recipes work best on soft bodied insects.

#1 – Ants

Ants aerate the soil and clean up garden debris. Unless they are seriously disruptive, I leave them alone. If they are in a particularly bad spot, they can be encouraged to relocate by repeatedly disrupting the hive with boiling water or other disturbances. If they are farming aphids (see Aphids, below), getting rid of the aphids may get the ants to move on. For more detailed information on ant control, see “How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally”.

#2 – Aphids

Aphids suck the juices out of plants. If plants are stressed and weak, and aphid attack may do them in. Strong plants can withstand a fair amount of munching with little harm. Many beneficial insects munch on aphids, including lady beetle larva, small wasps, syrphid fly larva and lacewings.

For mild aphid attacks, try hosing the plant off with a strong jet of water. For more heavy infestation, mix up a batch of home pest control spray. (Get the recipes here.)

#3 – Asparagus beetles

These small orange and black beetles move into your asparagus patch and leave chew marks all over the spears. The larva head underground in fall to pupate and emerge the next spring, starting the cycle all over again.

Hand pick in early morning when they are cooler and less active. Encourage wild birds, frogs and snakes to visit your asparagus patch with perches, cover and water nearby. If you have chickens, ducks or other poultry, you may want to allow them into the patch for a short time in fall to clean up the larva. (Be careful with chickens. Too much digging will kill your asparagus crowns.)

From ants to squash vine borers, organic and natural pest control for 20 common garden pests, plus tips for encouraging beneficial insects & other allies.

#4 – Cabbage Worms and Cabbage Loopers

These small green worms are both moth larva. Cabbage worms mature into white moths, which are called cabbage butterflies because they are active during the day. Cabbage loopers mature into a dabbled brown moth. Both larvas are bright green, blending perfectly against the cabbage family plants they like to munch. Sometimes you spot the little dark green piles of worm poo before you spot the worms themselves. Their eggs are orange-yellow, and are often found on the undersides of leaves. Hand pick cabbage worms or loopers every couple of days to keep numbers in check.

If cabbage worms have gotten out of control, DE (diatomaceous earth) and Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) are two products available at garden centers that will slow them down. DE is made of finely ground rock containing the fossilized shells of diatoms. The grains are very sharp, and injure soft bodied critters. (Don't breath this. I'm sure it's not great for toads and frogs, either.)

To catch any cabbage worms you miss before they get to the table, check out “The Easiest Way to Get Worms Out of Broccoli“.

What is Bt?

Bt is a form of naturally occurring bacteria that effects the larva stage of insects, basically causing their stomachs to explode. Because of its overuse in genetically modified crops (the Bt gene is spliced into a crop such as corn so the entire plant becomes a pesticide –read more atWould You Feed Your Kids Pesticide Chips?), many insects are becoming resistant to these bacteria (there are multiple strains of Bt). As you can see, each product has some problems, which gets me back to hand-picking and encouraging healthy plants.

Growing cabbage family plants early or late in the season usually reduces insect pressure. These crops prefer cool temps. A light frost won’t harm them, but it will knock down the bug numbers.

Cabbage worms, like most insect pests, will show up in much greater numbers when your plants are stressed in any way. When I've accidentally planted them too close together so they are overcrowded, or dealt with drought or poor soil, my cabbage worm problems have been much worse.

Make sure cabbage family plants have ample room to grow (plant 2-3 feet on center) and give them plenty of nitrogen in the form of compost or rotten manure. It's hard to have soil that's too rich for these plants. When your soil is good and your plants are healthy, damage will be minimal and plants will recover easily. You can also fertilize with fish emulsion, weed tea or compost tea to give plants an extra boost of nutrition.

#5 – Colorado potato beetles

I vividly remember the first time my small suburban garden was attacked by potato beetles. One day the potato patch looked fine. A couple days later, the plants were chewed to lace. (This is another good reminder to check your garden daily if possible, to catch problems quickly.)

I didn’t know what Colorado potato beetle larva looked like, so I didn’t realize the plants were infested until the damage was severe

Here's an immature potato beetle.

Immature potato beetle

Here's a mature potato beetle.

Colorado potato beetle

If you can catch these early before they become widespread, hand picking is easy. To hand pick garden bugs, I prep a large yogurt container or something similar with a couple inches of water in the bottom mixed with some soap to break the surface tension. Knock or drop the bugs in, and they don't come out. I don't recommend squashing mature potato beetles with your bare fingers, as they will bite and their shells are quite hard.

I have also used DE (diatomaceous earth) for potato beetles, but hand picking is my preferred tactic. The sharp edges of the DE are effective against soft bodied garden bugs, such as the potato beetle larva.

Don't Forget to Watch for Eggs!

Make sure to check on the underside of leaves for clusters of bright orange eggs, and smash them or scrape them into your soapy water. The boys used to make extra cash in the summer by acting as “bounty hunters” and earning a set amount per bug collected. You can also buy insecticidal soap specifically designed to be sprayed directly on bugs.

DIY Natural Garden Pest Control @ Common Sense Homesteading

If you can get it, use straw much on your potatoes in addition to hilling. Barbara Pleasant notes in The Gardener’s Bug Book that straw reduces potato beetle damage by about half. Floating row covers can work for small patches – just make sure you don’t trap any beetles under the cover.

#6 – Corn Borers, European

If you’ve raised sweet corn in the garden, you’ve likely encountered corn borers. They’re about an inch long, and commonly found at the tip of the corn cob. Some corn varieties are genetically engineered to include Bt toxins to kill the borers, but they are starting to see resistance to these toxins. Other corn varieties have naturally tight openings to the husks or thicker husks, which helps to keep the borers out. Cold winters and cool wet starts to summers keep their numbers down, as do heavy rains, which knock off eggs before they hatch. Bt may be effective – if you can get it on the corn the borer is eating. Not easy when they are under the husk. We encourage birds and beneficial insects that hunt them, and trim off any corn borer damage we find at harvest.

#7 – Cucumber Beetles

Cucumbers beetles can do a fair amount of damage, plus they spread bacterial wilt. Bacterial wilt is a disease that gets in the soil. It can cause problems for years after the initial infestation. First off, work to maximize your soil fertility – better soil = plants that are less likely to attract pests and are more resistant when they attack.

Striped cucumber beetles have yellow and black stripes. They chew up the plants above-ground, and then lay eggs in the soil at the base of the plants. The larvae then chew up the roots. (Dirty devils…) Spotted cucumber beetles are slightly larger, and will also chew up your vine crops, but they like to lay their eggs near corn. Their larvae are known as corn rootworms.

At our old place, where we had poor, heavy clay soil, once the cucumber beetles showed up, and the bacterial wilt spread, I was not able to grow vine crops well again. Here, the cucumber beetles show up, but they don’t do much damage. Here I have a mixed clay/sand/loam and much more organic matter.

To control cucumber beetles, it’s best to get them early in the morning, when they are cooler and less active. They like to gather in blossoms, so I will gently shake a blossom into my container of soapy water, or use something like a popsicle stick to scoop them into the water. Sunflowers are great for attracting cucumber beetles – they love them! They gather on the sunflower heads and I shake them/brush them from the sunflower into the soapy water. You can eliminate large qualities of them very quickly.

For small plantings, you can protect them with floating row covers. Nonbitter cucumbers may attract fewer cucumber beetles than other varieties.

#8 – Cutworms

To me, it seems like adding insult to injury when a cutworm kills a plant by cutting it off at ground level, leaving the rest of the plant to die. When we first put in our garden, I had a lot more trouble with cutworms. Now it’s rare that we’ll lose a plant.

First off, cutworms are more numerous in areas recently converted from grass. Once you cultivate the soil for a few years and root them out as you see them, the populations go down. Spot a dingy grey grub-like caterpillar about an inch and a half long while digging? That’s probably a cutworm – which you may want to relocate to chicken food.

To protect young seedlings, stick a twig snugly against the stem of the young plant. The cutworm’s “grip of death” is interrupted by the stick. Another option is an empty can with the bottom cut out placed over the top of the seedling. Just make sure you don’t trap a cutworm inside the can. Natural predators of cutworms include braconid wasps, tachinid flies and ground beetles.

#9 – Earwigs

Earwigs are a little creepy to me because of their pincers. In the garden, they can be good and bad. They eat aphids, but they also chew on young seedlings.

To reduce earwig populations, try traps. Place rolled up newspapers or hollow bamboo sticks in the infested area. In the morning, dump all earwigs that took cover in the newspaper or bamboo into a bucket of soapy water.

From ants to squash vine borers, organic and natural pest control for 20 common garden pests, plus tips for encouraging beneficial insects & other allies.

Flea beetle

#10 – Flea Beetles

If you end up with leaves that look like they've been sprayed with buckshot, and you see tiny, fast moving black bugs, odds are you have flea beetles.

In my garden, flea beetles like to go after early spring growth. Beans and peppers are often hit particularly hard, brassicas get some damage but not as much. Radish greens almost always show some damage.

My preferred organic pest control for flea beetles is coffee grounds. Coffee grounds can be applied after damage is spotted to give the plants a chance to recover (I've brought nearly dead plants back from the brink), but I've taken to applying the grounds when the plants are small to avoid damage in the first place. Around mid-winter I start saving up and ask friends to start saving their grounds as well.

#11 – Fruit Flies

There are many different species of fruit flies. They lay their eggs in fruit, and the maggots hatch and chew their way around inside. Tiny fruit flies take up semi-permanent residence in my kitchen once harvest time kicks in.

For natural pest control of fruit flies in the garden, try tangle traps, which catch the flies in sticky bait.

Inside, make sure to promptly use ripe fruit. Nothing triggers a fruit fly population explosion faster than a piece of rotting fruit hiding in the bottom of a container. (Some of you who are familiar with the site may have seen the large cardboard trays I use to hold produce. These make it easier to spot anything that’s starting to turn and process it immediately.)

My preferred homemade fruit fly trap option is homemade apple cider vinegar in an old candle holder. I put a drop of dish soap on the top of the vinegar to reduce surface tension, and cover the container with a piece of plastic wrap with a hole in it. Fruit flies go in, but they don’t come back out.

#12 – Grasshoppers

Thankfully here in northeast Wisconsin, we haven’t had a huge grasshopper invasion while I’ve been gardening. In many areas, they hit like a biblical plague, wiping out anything green.

Grasshoppers lay eggs in the soil, which hatch in the springtime, spread out and EAT ALMOST EVERYTHING.

Floating row covers can be used to protect small areas, but this is one garden pest that is best controlled permaculture style. What do I mean by that? Think of the grasshopper plague not as too many grasshoppers, but as a lack of things to eat them. Ducks and chickens will chow down on grasshoppers, and have a great time doing it. No poultry? Try and hunt the largest hoppers in August to keep them from laying eggs. Give them the soapy water treatment, use them for fish bait, or eat them like my friend, Paul.

#13 – Hornworms, Tomato Hornworms

These huge caterpillars can munch their way through a tomato plant at record speed. While these garden pests can do a ton of damage, the hornworms do pupate into beautiful hummingbirds moths.

Hand picking is the most reliable control method. Hornworms are also relished by poultry.

If you spot a hornworm with little white cocoons on its back, the hornworm is under attack from braconid wasps and will eventually die. Consider keeping it on a spare tomato plant, or in a jar with some tomato leaves to munch on, until the wasp babies have time to emerge.

Hornworms overwinter in the ground in 1-2 inch long dark brown pupae. Fall cultivation will help expose these to the elements and birds. Alternatively, put the chickens to work on garden clean up duty.

#14 – June Bugs, June Beetles

Come June, it’s time for the nighttime ritual thumping of these large beetles against window screens everywhere. The larvae of June bugs are large white grubs, with a preferred diet of grass roots. They’re a favorite food of skunks, which root them out of your lawn. Since corn is a grass, you’ll sometimes find the grubs chewing at your corn roots, too.

Adult June bugs are attracted to light traps (bug zappers). They ca also be hand picked from window screens and given the soap bucket treatment. For long term control, consider inoculating the soil with milky spore disease. Milky spore also kills Japanese beetle larvae.

#15 – Mealybugs

I’d never heard of these garden bugs until a reader requested help for their jasmine tree. The small white bugs are fond of tropical houseplants, citrus and other fruits.

For mealybug control in the garden, try a strong blast of water, followed by insecticidal soap.

#16 – Mice

Mice are tougher to get rid of than rabbits, as they are usually not deterred by herbs and scents like the rabbits are. In my garden, control is provided by my cats and local fox snakes. Unless you remove the mice or barricade your plants, damage will likely continue.

To keep mice away from a plant (or plants), you must use very fine mesh fencing – 1/4 inch or less is preferred. If a mouse can get its head through, the body will go through as well. I usually use fencing around individual plants such as blueberries.

Minimize brush piles or other easy cover near the garden. They also like to move into compost bins (especially in winter, when the heat keeps them nice and warm). Wood piles are another favorite hiding spot.

Traps and poisons are other options, but always be aware of other animals, pets or small children that may also encounter these items and plan accordingly. I don't put out mouse bait anymore since the cats moved in, as I wouldn't want my kitties eating a mouse that had eaten poison. The article The Best Ways to get Rid of Mice From Your Home and Garage provides more detailed information on mice and their habits and abilities and keeping them under control.

#17 – Rabbits

The first year I planted, the wild bunnies did a number on my freshly sown peas and other tender greens. I didn't want to fence everything, because it makes it more difficult to tend to, plus fences don't always keep bunnies out, so I had to come up with another solution.

I tried the spray on Liquid Fence products, and they worked – until it rained. They were also expensive. I tried cayenne pepper, which worked until the rain washed it off, but also burnt the plants where I had applied it a little too heavily.

My best solution for protecting my plants from rabbits is to mulch them heavily with strongly scented herbs. I've got volunteer catnip and lemon balm all over the place, which the bunnies don't bother at all. I cut bundles of these and other strongly scented herbs, and snuggle them up around newly emerging seedlings. This keeps the bunnies at bay until the plants are strong enough to withstand a little nibbling. The herbs don't wash away in the rain, and the protection lasts for weeks.

#18 – Slugs

We get a lot of wind, so I mulch heavily to keep the soil from blowing away and to retain moisture. Last year we had a cold, wet spring, which led to a boom in the slug population.

DIY Natural Garden Pest Control @ Common Sense Homesteading

Severe slug damage on a tomato

I tried beer traps. I took a sour cream container, buried it up to the edge in dirt, and put about an inch of beer in the bottom. It cleared out the area, and then I didn't catch anymore. I think you'd need a lot of these to be truly effective. Plus, one of the traps got dug up and something drank the beer! Not sure I want to attract drunken varmints.

Slug trap with beer

Slug trap with beer bait

The best for slug control I've found is diatomaceous earth (DE) or crushed eggshells. Eggshells are generally free, and you're not likely to inhale much dust from them, unlike the DE. Apply crushed eggshells generously on the soil surface wherever you have slug troubles.

#19 – Squash Bugs

Squash bugs are fast moving and breed very rapidly. The adults resemble stink bugs (some of which are actually beneficial) so when they first showed up in my garden, I didn't realize they were trouble. I soon learned the error of my ways. Squash bugs can suck and chew a plant to death in days. Look for egg clusters on the underside of leaves and smash them or scrape them into your soapy water.

Squash bug eggs

Squash bug eggs on the underside of a leaf

Squash bug nymphs can be treated the same way. Neem oil is supposed to be effective on the nymphs if they are hit directly, but it didn't slow the ones in my garden down very well. Another option is to wrap a strip of duck tape around your hand, and press it against the eggs to lift them gently away from the leaf. You can use the tape to nap the nymphs, too.

DIY Natural Garden Pest Control @ Common Sense Homesteading

Squash bug nymph

By the way, the mature squash bugs smell like fruit loops when you smash them. I tried to get a picture, but they weren't cooperating. The young ones don't smell as strong, and they don't taste like much of anything, just “green”. (Yes, I ate some bugs last summer. I was curious, and figured it was time for payback.)

Also, I've recently started researching entomophagy (eating bugs) in more detail, and found out that squash bugs and many other common garden pest are edible. If you're curious, you can read Eating Bugs – Free Food from Your Backyard.

#20 – Squash Vine Borers

If you find holes in a squash stem that have a pile of what looks like sawdust next to them, you likely have squash vine borers. When I have clear borer signs, I carefully slice open the stem and remove the problem insect larva. After removal, I bury the stem in compost or rotten manure to encourage additional roots. (Mulching the vines may also deter further attacks.)

Keeping your squash vines covered until female blossoms show up will help keep your plants clear of borers. Cucurbita moschata varieties, such as butternut squash and Tromboncinos, are highly resistant to squash vine borers.

Page 2 – Encouraging Beneficial Insects and Animals

The post The Ultimate Guide to Natural Pest Control in the Garden appeared first on Common Sense Homesteading.

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Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman

Learn to make your own homemade weapons so you’ll have a fighting chance in a survival situation where all you have is nature.

 [You Get One FREE] Weird Little Knife Drives TSA Crazy!

How to Make Homemade Weapons

Why Should You Learn to Make Homemade Weapons?

Let’s say you got lost in the wild, and you somehow forgot or lost your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT (or whichever is the best survival knife for you). What do you do?

While your situation is most likely not quite as bad as Tom Hanks had it in Castaway, let’s face it. The only way you’re gonna get out of this situation in good shape is to let out your inner caveman.

Let me explain. Our very primitive ancestors lived in a time when every day was a survival situation. Any tools or weapons they needed had to be made from scratch.

So, should you be unlucky enough to have only the shirt on your back while you’re lost in the wilderness, you’ll have to follow suit. Let the training of your inner caveman begin.

Today’s lesson: how to make DIY weapons in the wild with only the resources nature provided you.

How to Make a Knife | Homemade Weapons

Having a knife, any kind of knife is probably one of the best things to happen should you suddenly find yourself in a survival situation. You can use it to help you find food, build a shelter, and defend yourself against wild animals.

So it’s highly fortunate nature is waiting like a momma at a craft table with lots of materials you can use to create one.

1. Stone Knives

Bone, shell, bamboo, wood, or even an old aluminum beer can may work to perform the puncturing function of a blade. You know you’ve seen these a million times when you’re out hiking.

They’re easy to crack or break or shape into a fairly sharp point which will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to use a chicken bone or an expertly-shaped aluminum can point to skin, chop, baton, or any of the other necessary functions of a survival knife.

This is where the stone comes into play. I’ll start by saying making a knife out of stone isn’t easy, but it can be done.

You’ll need three things: a core rock, a hammerstone, and a pressure flaker. Remember, you’re going to be smashing these together in true caveman fashion.

So, having stones you can reasonably grip in each hand is going to make your life a lot easier. Although, it’s definitely an option to stand poised over one rock smashing down on it.

You, with a two-hand grip, pounding until you’ve chipped away at it a bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

2. The Core Rock

rock formation background | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

The core rock is what you’ll be making into a blade. Find any large stone, preferably made from obsidian, slate, chert, or flint with a relatively flat side.

In case you weren’t a rock collector in any of your previous lives, here’s another way to decide if a rock meets the requirements for good knife-making material. Tap or click a rock together with another rock and listen for a ringing sound (like glass).

The more rock sounds like glass, the better it is as a material for your core rock. If you can, choose a rock which is already a bit sharp to reduce the amount of time you’ll need to shape it.

3. The Hammerstone

The hammerstone is a medium-sized, spherical rock, preferably made of granite. It will be used to smash, chisel, chip and shape the core rock.

You’ll be using it to chip off pieces of the core stone and to narrow the edges to a blade shape.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Edge | Knife Sharpener

4. The Pressure Flaker

The pressure flaker, or flaking tool, is a rock with a sharp point to help you refine the blade’s edges. You’ll use your flaking tool after you’ve thinned the edges of the stone with the hammer stone to make the “blade” sharper.

When you start making your knife, you’ll want to be sure to wet the core stone to shorten the time it takes to shape it into a blade. Begin by striking glancing blows near the edge of the core rock with the hammerstone.

Chip away at the core rock until you get the general shape of a blade. Then, use the flaking tool to refine the edges you need to sharpen.

You can also use a stone with a rough surface such as a sandstone to sharpen the edge. Use some rope, cloth, or leather to lash the base and create a handle.

If you are having troubling shaping the rock into a knife, you can opt to create stone blades instead. Check out the videos below to learn how:

Part One:

Part Two:

How to Make a Spear | Homemade Weapons

south african zulu spear | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

We’ve talked about how to make a spear using your best survival knife in a previous article. The same principle applies here.

Even without your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT or whichever survival knife you normally bring with you, you can still make a spear using your newly made stone knife. To make a spear, you’ll need to find a five-foot-long stick tough enough to endure repeated short or long-distance throws.

  1. First, pick the end of the stick which has a more rounded tip and use your stone knife to start shaving to create a spear. Once you’re done, be sure to heat the spear over some hot coals to make your spear sharper.
  2. As an alternative, you can also make a spear by tying your knife onto a stick. Find a stick which is about an inch wide.
  3. Measure about 2 inches from one end of the stick. Mark the point, then split the stick into two until you reach the 2-inch mark, creating a sort of Y shape.
  4. This will create a space where you can stick your stone knife before you lash it on with some twine, cord, or rope. To lock the blade in place, put some moss or lichen in the remaining space.
  5. If you haven’t had time to fashion your knife out of stone yet, you can also use broken pieces of shell or glass or splintered bamboo or bone and secure it to the end of your stick.
  6. If you find a way to split your stick without a knife, you can insert the splintered bone or bamboo into the wedge and tie it off like you would when turning a knife into a spear.

How to Make a Weighted Club | Homemade Weapons

While sharp pointy tools are all well and good, you can never go wrong with a blunt homemade weapon. You can use it for hammering or bludgeoning something such as a weighted club.

The weighted club could be one of the deadliest ancient weapons. To make one, you’ll need the following: a piece of wood around 14-16 inches, a medium-sized rock, and some rope.

  1. Once you have all the materials, you’ll need to wrap some lashing 6-8 inches from the end of the stick.
  2. Split the same end until you reach the lashing in order to create a V-shaped notch. The rock you picked out should be shorter than the length of the split.
  3. Insert the stone then lash it securely (above, below, and across the stone). The lashing on the stick above the stone clamps both sides of the split together providing the first point of security, so it’s especially important to create a good, tight lashing above the stone.
  4. You’ll want to make sure you bind the split ends securely so the stone won’t fall off whenever you use it to hammer or pound on something.

This video from Wannabe Bushcrafter will show you how to make a bamboo knife:

Now, hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where making homemade weapons is going to be a necessity for survival. But, if you do find yourself in such a quagmire, this little bit of information and inner caveman training may be what saves your life.

Which of these homemade weapons do you want to make? Tell us your progress in the comments section below!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 11, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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5 Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

Know these home remedies for chigger bites, or better yet, avoid the bug's bites in the first place with helpful tips included here!

RELATED: Top Ways to Deal with Insects [Especially Mosquitos]

In this article:

  1. What Is a Chigger, Exactly?
  2. Where Do Chiggers Live?
  3. Identifying Chiggers Bites
  4. Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
  5. Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

What Is a Chigger, Exactly?

Chiggers are members of the arachnid family. They are extremely tiny, and my guess is you won’t even see them as they jump from the tall grass onto your skin and/or clothing.

Adult chiggers are about 1/60 of an inch and have eight legs. The larvae are red, wingless, six-legged creatures which measure less than 1/150 of an inch.

Because of their red color, you might be able to spot the larvae when they cluster together, especially on white clothing.

What Is the Arachnid Family? It is a large group or class of invertebrate animals where the spiders and scorpions belong.

Where Do Chiggers Live?

Chiggers reside in tall weeds and grass, berry patches, and wooded areas. They could be in your backyard, by the lake, or your favorite hiking trail.

They are most active in summer and fall afternoons – the warmest part of the day.

Identifying Chiggers Bites

Only the larvae bite humans and they tend to choose warm, moist areas of the body.

Chiggers also have claws which help them grab onto your skin. The chigger then attaches its mouth to the skin and injects saliva.

The saliva contains an enzyme which breaks skin cells down to liquid form. Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, creating a tube (cyclostome) through which the chigger sucks the dissolved skin cells.

Chiggers can stay attached and feeding for several days before falling off.

When the chigger falls off, you are left with reddish bumps. You may notice a bright red dot in the center—this is a remnant of the tube your skin formed in response to the chigger's saliva.

The bumps may look like welts, blisters, pimples, or hives. Bites generally appear in groups and get larger for several days to a week.

While many insects bite exposed skin which is easy to get to, chiggers like to bite in folds of skin as well as places where clothing fits tightly on the skin. Most chigger bites occur around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch, or behind the knees.

Home Remedies for Chigger Bites

Just remember, no matter what, DO NOT SCRATCH THE BITES! I know, easier said than done. But, breaking the skin on a chigger bite can lead to infection.

Here are 5 home remedies to help with the itching and swelling.

RELATED: Spider Bite? Here’s How To Treat It

1. Vicks Vapor Rub

Vicks Vapor Rub can put an end to itchy chigger bites immediately and will even reduce the risk of blisters. It’s the cooling menthol in it which relieves itching by affecting itch receptors in the skin.


  • Take a hot shower (use antibacterial soap.) Pat dry your skin with a soft towel.
  • Take a small amount of the vapor rub and add some table salt to it.
  • Mix well and apply to the affected area.
  • Repeat if the swelling continues (otherwise, there is no need to repeat the process)

2. Cold Compress

A cold compress can help reduce the itching associated with chigger bites. Its numbing effect helps reduce the sensation of itchiness.


  • Wrap some ice cubes in a thin cloth.
  • Apply the compress to the bites for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed to relieve itching.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another effective remedy to reduce rashes as well as itchiness. It acts as a natural acid neutralizer which helps relieve itching and reduces the risk of infection.


  • Add 1 cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with cool water.
  • Stir well and soak in this water for 15 minutes and pat your skin with a soft towel. (Do this once daily)

Another remedy using baking soda:

  • Prepare a thin paste of 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a little water.
  • Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with cool water.

Note: Do not use this remedy more than once or twice a day. Never use baking soda on broken skin or open wounds.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties providing instant relief from itching–one of the common symptoms of chigger bites. It is recommended to use colloidal oatmeal, meaning oats which are ground into an extremely fine powder.

(You can accomplish this yourself by grinding regular oats in a sealed Ziploc bag, using the backside of a spoon to crush the oatmeal.)


  • Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub filled with warm water
  • Stir thoroughly
  • Soak in this mixture for at least 15-20 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times a day

5. Olive Oil

Olive oil can also be used to get relief from the irritation and inflammation. It is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants which reduce itching and facilitate healing.


  • After rinsing the affected area with water, apply olive oil to the chigger bite.
  • Reapply several times a day.

Another option using olive oil:

  • Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply on the affected area.
  • Repeat a few times a day.

Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

As summer and fall are prime time for chigger bites, it is best to take the following precautions:

  1. When hiking, stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against vegetation.
  2. Wear long sleeves and long pants when going into the woods.
  3. Apply mosquito repellent on your hands, feet, and exposed skin on your arms before going outside.
  4. Shower immediately after being outdoors and use antibacterial soap.
  5. Wash your clothes in hot water.
  6. Resist the urge to scratch because breaking the skin on chigger bites can lead to a possible infection.

This video from Online Pest Control will show you tips to avoid chiggers and ways to get rid of chiggers:

Chigger bites much like other insect bites aren't only discomforting, they can be dangerous too. Many of these insects including chiggers carry diseases in some cases.

The best way to deal with these bugs is to avoid them or control them with our tips here. But, if you're so unlucky, you also now know the best home remedies to chigger bites!

Have you had to deal with chigger bites before? Tell us how, including more useful tips which worked for you in the comments section below!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 28, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

This Article Was First Found at Read The Original Article Here

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9 Good Reasons To Carry A “Survival Stick”

Arm yourself with a survival stick, get savvy with it, but first, find out why as you read on!

RELATED: Deadly Parasols | Umbrella As A Self-Defense Weapon

In this article:

  1. Survival Hiking Stick
  2. Survival Stick for Support
  3. Fetching/Reaching Things
  4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense
  5. Balance
  6. Gauging Depth
  7. Carrying Gear and Supplies
  8. Club
  9. Fishing Rod

Survival Stick: An Underrated Multipurpose Tool?

The Survival Stick in History

A walking stick or a survival cane were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries as a decorative show of power and a defensive replacement for a sword. Yet, the truth is our ancestors have been using them for thousands of years, and for good reason…

…They work! Even the animal kingdom is smart enough to know just how useful these are:

(It may be hard to see, but this gorilla is holding a walking stick to gauge the depth of the water as she sloshes along)

A walking stick is not a new or revolutionary idea. In fact, the use of a walking stick predates history and its use continued on for generations including this present time.

Yet, it is one which is more often than not overlooked. When most people think of a walking stick, it is usually paired with a top hat or seen as a crutch for someone with a walking disability.

Far too few people even realize how important a walking stick can be, especially to someone in the outdoors. We will dig a little deeper into the many uses of a survival stick and maybe safely say, it could be the first multi-purpose survival tool.

Practical and Survival Uses for a Survival Stick

Walking sticks are also known as trekking poles, pilgrim's staffs, hiking poles and hiking staff have quite a few different uses:

1. Survival Hiking Stick

Hold the survival stick in front of you and you can use it to clear your way by parting brushes and branches or leaves and thick tall grasses. You can also use it to clear spiderwebs, especially if you're not too fond of spiders.

Other insects, animals, poisonous plants, and even animal dung can get in the way. Use a survival stick to inspect or poke at those things if you are unsure, and never ever your hands or your feet.

2. Survival Stick for Support

Hiker in Caucasus mountains is crossing mountain river | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | hiking staff
Making your way through an uneven terrain will be more manageable with a walking stick for support. Whether you're going up or down, use the walking stick to either slow you down or hold you up.

You can use your walking stick like breaks to keep you from speeding down or use it to latch on to a rock or crevice when you're climbing up. Besides for yourself, you can also use your multipurpose stick as a support for your tarp emergency shelter.

3. Fetching/Reaching Things

It happens–a supply or gear falling on water, mud, puddle or in an area you dare not walk into. You can fetch or reach for those items with a stick.

It also happens where you need an item over a physical barrier and only a stick can fetch the item for you. You can also reach for fruits, nest, or other food sources up a tree or high structure with a stick.

RELATED: Unusual Weapons From Around The World And How To Use Them

4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense

To use a survival stick as a weapon, make sure it's a sturdy stick with a finished look and not just any stick you found along the way. You can use it to defend yourself from an attacker whether it's human or animals.

I would suggest to train yourself in some form of martial arts using a stick like a baton as a weapon to have a better handle at it.

You can also fashion a spear with your stick by tying a survival knife on one end. Don't throw this spear though or you risk damaging or losing your knife and stick.

Hold on to your homemade spear and only use it to thrust at your target.

5. Balance

Hiker is crossing the river in Sweden | Hiker in Caucasus mountain | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | survival hiking stickWhen you're crossing a log bridge over a stream or you're going through the stream itself or other bodies of water, a walking stick can help you balance so you don't fall over. If you're walking through a muddy or rocky waterbed, a walking stick will help you up.

If you're up for it and if the body of water isn't too wide across, you can also use a long stick like a pole vault to cross over so you don't get yourself wet.

6. Gauging Depth

Relative to crossing bodies of water, a survival stick is handy in identifying dips beneath the waters which could cause you to stumble. You can also use the stick to identify where it's safe to take the next step.

You can also use this simple trick with the stick when you're traveling in deep snow, marshland, and even the dessert.

7. Carrying Gear and Supplies

Use your survival stick to help you carry gear and supplies. Pack your supplies with a shemagh, tie it tight to one end of your stick then place the stick over your shoulders in hobo fashion.

You can also carry more supplies with your survival stick. Even today, a carrying pole is used by indigenous people all over the world to carry heavy supplies you never thought possible.

Hang bags of supplies or jars of water on either side of the pole or stick, putting a stopper like a notch or tie on both ends so they don't fall off. Place the center of the stick over your shoulders and balance your load to your destination.

8. Club

Man carrying blue backpack | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | walking staff weapon
Use your survival stick like a club to knock obstacle down. A pillar of rocks or other objects may be on your way and a sturdy stick can help you safely knock those.

If you are in a building with glass doors or windows or inside a car, you can break the glass with a stick. Make to knock over pieces around your entrance or exit with the stick, too.

9. Fishing Rod

You only need to bring a fishing kit and your survival stick will make a good fishing rod. Tie a line on one end of your walking stick and fish away.

A DIY fishing pole is actually effective and many a fish has been caught this way.

As you guys and gals already know, I am a stickler for carrying things only if they have multiple uses. This guy managed to fit almost an entire survival kit into a walking stick he built from scratch, for under $20.00.

Check out this video from SOS 2054 I found, and find out for yourself, too:

A humble walking stick will indeed surprise you with what it can do for your defense, convenience, safety, and survival. Since you know now the practical and survival uses of this primitive multi-purpose tool, it won't surprise me if it lands a top spot on your list of survival tools for camping, hiking, or SHTF.

What other uses can you think of for carrying a “survival stick”? Let us know in the comments section below!

Up Next:

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Check out How To Purify Water | 5 Water Decontamination Techniques at

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**Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 11, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

This Article Was First Found at Read The Original Article Here

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