Homemade Traps for Garden Pests

KJ Barber
By KJ Barber June 2, 2020 08:12

Homemade Traps for Garden Pests

Depending on where you live, it could be a bit challenging to actually know what season we are in right now. It’s not uncommon to go from winter-like temperatures, to balmy and steamy days and evenings. But, this particular year, it seems like our thermostat is getting a thrashing in a game of tug-of-war. And, that makes it difficult to know when to plant. Or, maybe even how to protect what you might have already planted or will someday.

Of course, temperatures aren’t the only potential enemy that could attack your garden. No, there are a few insects and pests that will take full advantage of all your hard work, and could easily ruin your garden. At the very least, it could lead to some unnecessary frustration and disappointment.

I say “unnecessary” because there are options to help control these pests, giving you more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, or veggies.  Perhaps the most rewarding option is a homemade trap. You might already have some of the supplies on hand, making it quicker, cheaper, and more natural than hiring a company to take care of the infestation for you.

So, hopefully the easy homemade traps below will help you in protecting your garden, and preserve all your hard work.

Use a Pit Trap for Earwigs and Slugs

Night dwelling slugs like to dine on leaves. But they also seem to be drawn to beer. Yep, good old fashioned beer. If you have a problem with slugs messing up your garden, pop open a brew.

Place a shallow container on the ground in your garden, right in the midst of your most slug-vulnerable plants, such as strawberries or lettuce. An old pie plate or frisbee would work well for this type of trap. Pour about 1” of beer into the bottom of your new trap, and walk away. It’s really that simple.Homemade Traps for Garden PestsThe slugs will be drawn to the beer, crawl in, and eventually drown. If you don’t want to waste a good beer, sugar water with a small bit of yeast mixed in would also work. They love a good fermented gas and should leave your plants alone as a result. Just replace the mix if it dries up or gets diluted from rain.

Earwigs are another night dweller, lurking at the bottom of pots and containers during the day. They also wreak havoc on leaves and plants.

This time, put some vegetable oil in the bottom of the shallow containers, and add a touch of soy sauce. Same result as the beer method.Homemade Traps for Garden Pests

Tiny Insects and Sticky Traps

Sticky traps are great for tiny insects that can destroy your garden, such as flea beetles, aphids, flies, whiteflies.

You can easily make a sticky trap by taking an old greeting card or paper cup and coating it with a sticky concoction. Try using something as simple as a thick syrup or petroleum jelly. Then stick it in the garden among the plants.Homemade Traps for Garden PestsAnd, some insects are drawn to certain colors, which can vary. Here are a few:

  • Yellow – flies, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, and some aphids
  • Green – some aphids
  • Blue – thrips

So, if you are trying to target any of the above specifically, make the trap in the color they are attracted to, in addition to the sticky mix. If you can’t find the material in the color you want, paint it…before adding the sticky matter, of course.

Related: 10 Reasons Why You Need To Have Petroleum Jelly In Your Stockpile

Yellow Pans for Squash Vine Borers and Aphids

Yellow is probably the most popular color among garden pests. So, with this particular trap, think yellow. This one is extremely easy to do, and might already be in action to a point, if you have a shallow container lying on the ground collecting water. Insects will creep into the water-filled pan, and likely drown.Homemade Traps for Garden PestsHowever, 2 additional steps will make it even more effective. First, choose a yellow container to get their attention, such as a frisbee, or a painted pie plate or tin. Second, add a little liquid soap to the water. Just a few drops will do it. That will make it more difficult to swim and they will drown quicker.

If you are looking to target larger pests, such as moths and the squash vine borers they become, you will want a deeper vessel, one that will hold a minimum of 2” of water. Some moths fly during the day, so have these yellow pan traps out around the clock.

Related: Plants You Should Grow Around Your House To Repel Insects And Bugs (Including Termites)

Cucumber Beetles and Yellow Traps

Homemade Traps for Garden PestsThe downside to pan traps that are open, is that they could unintentionally also trap beneficial insects, such as bees.

You can diminish that possibility by making a bottle or jug trap. Make tiny holes that are the right size for the insect you are hoping to trap, but too large for a bee to go through.

This is a good option for trapping cucumber beetles, because they are much smaller than bees. To add to the lure, put some cucumber peels at the bottom of the bottle and water.

All of the traps mentioned in this article should be monitored. That can tell you what insects are trying to invade your garden, as well as let you know how well the traps are working and how often you need to refresh them. This should be done every week. Then again, you will be out in the garden more often than that to check on your plants. So, checking on them is easy.

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KJ Barber
By KJ Barber June 2, 2020 08:12
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  1. Pianomil June 2, 15:06

    Please give advice on how to rid nasty iguanas that eat even my hot pepper plants. They are everywhere: small to very large!

    Reply to this comment
    • red June 2, 19:52

      Snake traps work. In the short run, do like Ruth Stout had to, to stop deer from mowing down her sweet corn, a chicken wire fence with wire roof. niio

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck June 3, 04:03

      Shoot them with a pellet rifle. You can buy .177 caliber pellet rifles that are almost silent. Look at the Gamo line of pellet rifles. Mount a light on it and you can shoot them at night.

      HOWEVER, before you do that, make sure you don’t need a hunting license to shoot them. Make sure they are not a protected species. Both of those violations carry major fines, especially the protected species versions.

      In the PDKR, of course, you need a hunting license to shoot rattlesnakes. Yeah, you read that correctly. Wanna gig frogs? Better have your fishing license clearly displayed on your person above your waist. Too many guys were pinning it to their fly or their butts. Legislature saw fit to make it illegal to post your fishing license below your waist. Happy to see they are busy passing meaningless legislation and leaving the serious stuff alone.

      Reply to this comment
  2. TJ June 2, 18:00

    All of my yellow, spaghetti and zucchini squash fall off the vine only days after try form. What is causing this?

    Reply to this comment
    • red June 2, 19:56

      Are they getting pollinated? If it’s rainy or too hot, no pollen. Same thing if it’s too dry. One way around that is to pick the fruit before the bloom opens. We fry them (including the bloom), make squash blossom soup, freeze it and so on.

      Reply to this comment
  3. betty June 2, 19:15

    can you let me know how to get rid of fruit fly’s in house

    thanks betty kitzmann

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  4. red June 2, 20:09

    Take a yellow pan, paint target on bottom. Scent with clover blossoms, add sticky trap crud. No more rodents.
    Jokes aside, sticky traps are easy to make with tree tanglefoot. The jug and all, very good! Our best traps are still lizards. For rodents, packrats and ground squirrels, it’s Mouser the rattler. Because the neighbors let morning glory vines (illegal in Arizona) grow around their house, rodents tunnel into the root zone to eat them. Then they come to my place to help themselves to root crops. The snake is a given, and the only sure way to stop them. baiting rodents leads to predators dying, which means fewer predators, and a population boom of rodents. niio

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  5. City Chick June 3, 03:19

    How about squirrels? They dig everything up, especially anything newly planted! I’ve trapped them and driven them over 5 miles to a new home. I’ve put out mops soaked in vinegar and I’ve “planted dried hot peppers”propped up on chop sticks around in my planters!, but nothing seems to stop Mr Squirrel! Help! Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

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    • left coast chuck June 3, 16:57

      Tree squirrels or ground squirrels?

      Tree squirrels may be considered game animals in your state and regulated by fish and game regulations. If so, you may get in trouble trapping and moving them. You should check your fish and game regulations.

      Ground squirrels are considered pests in most states and because they fall in the category of vector bearing rodents are free game. You can trap them or otherwise eliminate them.

      I found an air pellet gun most effective against ground squirrels. Interestingly, I shot them so that they went back in their burrows. I only had to kill five and the rest of the village, about 20 ground squirrels moved out and never came back.

      I baited them by putting celery stalks about 18 inches infant of their holes. I used large celery stalks so that they couldn’t run out, grab them and drab them easily back into their burrows. As they were munching away, I nailed them with the air rifle from about 20 yards. They pulled back in their holes so I didn’t have to get rid of the bodies which were at a minimum flea infested. As I stated after nailing 5 of them the rest of the colony moved away.

      This was in a downtown area. I was careful to stay inside my building and shot only when no one was around. I had tried to poison them but got a nasty visit from animal control who refused to do anything about them. When my building was infested with feral kittens they refused to come extract them from the airspace where the mother had gotten in. My tax dollars in action.

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      • City Chick June 5, 18:08

        These little busy pests are Eastern Grey Squirrels. Tough little critters too! Thank you very much for your suggestion here! Certainly picked up a few helpful hints to coordinate my next steps on this site! Will do my best to try and stay out of trouble as I proceed to hunt them down! Eventually my hope is that they realize they are not welcome and go somewhere else!

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        • left coast chuck June 5, 23:13

          Eastern grey squirrels, the nemesis of the red squirrel and the flying squirrel. Grey squirrels were not native to the British Isles but once introduced there they were more prolific than the native red squirrels and and were declared an invasive species in the British Isles.

          While they are an invasive species and persona non grata in some locales, in others they are game animals and protected by fish and games regulations. I would strongly recommend, city girl, that you check your fish and game regulations for your state. By trapping and moving you may well be in violation of some obscure, ill-considered regulation with a hefty fine. Personally, I have never had a problem with removing animals that had developed into the pest category, but I am in a minority here in the PDRK where all animals are lovable and talk and sing and dance. Just ask the Disney Studios. Even fish talk underwater.

          If you need a hunting license, check the regulations and see if you can hunt them with an air rifle. You can buy a silent .177 caliber pellet gun for under $200 and you can cook and eat the critters too. Many consider squirrel to be fine eating. Squirrels kept families alive during the Great Depression. It was the main source of protein aside from chicken eggs that the desperately poor could obtain.

          Many cities have regulations against discharging a bb gun or pellet gun inside city limits but if you purchase one of the pellet guns that are silent in operation, you can surreptitiously wipe them out. I wouldn’t brag to the neighbors about it, however.

          If you need a hunting license, I would go ahead and take the class and get one, even if you don’t plan on hunting big game. That way, at least, if you do need a license to hunt them, you won’t get tagged with that offense. You might get tagged with firing a bb gun in city limits but that shouldn’t affect your hunting rights and the fine shouldn’t be too high.

          Please bear in mind I do not even portray a lawyer in little theater, so any legal advice that I proffer is pure guess work. My recommendation is that you check for yourself the game laws in your state and the pellet gun laws in your city. Try to do so without asking a law enforcement officer unless it is a close relative or an especially good friend who won’t rat you out. It is always best if you review the applicable statutes yourself, although finding the city codes may prove a challenge. They seem to prefer to keep them a secret so they can snag unknowing individuals or so some bureaucrat can quote a city code to you incorrectly, but you can’t find the actual wording to check for yourself without a lot of wasted time down at city hall.

          Some states provide a booklet with the current fish and game laws. Check with a place that sells hunting licenses to obtain one. The PDRK used to do that but because they were spending so much money providing services to illegals they decided folks who could pay for a hunting license should be computer literate enough to go on line and search for the regs on line, so no more fish and game regs to carry with you in the field unless you print out the regs on your home computer. I hope your state is different.

          Every state that I know of requires the first time hunting license purchaser to take a hunter safety course. Personally, I think that is an excellent rule and fully support the same. There are usually a number of instructors in every area who offer classes. Some classes are free and some classed have a charge. If you go to a real gun shop rather than a chain like Dickhead’s or Big 5 — please excuse the vulgarity. That particular chain jumped on the antigun bandwagon a year or so ago and self-righteously proclaimed their anti-gun status and even hired a lobbyist to lobby for “safe and sane” gun laws — you should be able to obtain the names of individuals or gun clubs or fishing and hunting clubs that offer hunter education classes. They will be getting started soon in time for folks to complete them before fall hunting season. Your state may also offer hunter safety classes on line. However, not all states do so.

          Good luck in your hunting. Unlike Elmer Fudd, you don’t need a shotgun for squirrels. All it takes is patience. If you get enough of them, they may decide to move on to less hostile neighborhoods. Look up squirrel recipes. You may decided that you have found a new source of emergency rations in case of and EOTW situation or in case the dire predictions come true and meat becomes a scarcity in the markets. In any event, hunting small game is a good prepper skill to have.

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        • red June 6, 03:14

          City: I agree with chuck, but most towns consider squirrels pests. but, check regs. Years ago, an old man was arrested in Connecticut for animal abuse when he accidentally killed a rat.
          I might suggest radishes as a deterrent. They might work. they sure keep ground squirrels, packrats, and javelina out of the garden. Black Schifferstadt are called German horseradish for good reason. Baker’s Creek carries them. A little chili pepper dust in the morning works. My sister uses it in her bird feeder in Penna. Even the bears learned to leave it alone. 🙂

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          • City Chick June 6, 14:56

            I’ve had horseradish planted in a big pot for many years here. Planted some Bakers Creek French Breakfast radishes just a few days ago and they are already popping up! We will see what happens with my little friends! Many thanks for the tips! Much appreciated!

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    • red June 4, 15:09

      They’ll take rat bait. they don’t like dried pepper flakes. Any sign of a bied feeder will attract them. We tolerate ground squirrels to a point. They burrow 5 feet and deeper, and that opens up the soil. Bait has to be kept dry, but leave pans of water nearby. And, mst of all, do not let anyone know you’re doing that. I mean, IF you would 🙂 niio

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      • left coast chuck June 5, 02:38

        Yeah, otherwise you will get a visit from a nasty animal control officer who may issue you a citation for putting out poison bait without a license and permit and attestation that you have complied with all the numerous green laws. Especially if you are located in the PDRK.

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      • City Chick June 6, 13:29

        Thank you very much Red, but these are very sophisticated squirrels. Don’t think they’d fall for rat bait!

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      • City Chick June 6, 13:46

        Good advice! Love those folks over at Bakers Creek. They have managed to ship orders out throughout the pandemic. Been experimenting in the garden by adding various types of small crops to create a continual feast! So thankful I had two grandmothers who continued to plant a victory garden well after the end of the war

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  6. Sabel June 3, 14:59

    Grasshoppers! Again! Last year, we were invaded by grasshoppers – in Biblical numbers, of at least 4 different varieties, in sizes from 3/4″ long tho the Jumbos (Lubbers) that measure about 3″ long.. So far this tear, it is just the small ones, but in 4 days they have stripped just about everything that was coming up in my garden. The potato plants looked beautiful last week. Today, they are naked! The summer squash and gourds have been eaten down to nubs. The cucumbers are gone and so are the onions and half of my garlic plants. One article I found said to make a tea of garlic and spray it on the plants. Apparently, these grasshoppers are Italian because they loved the garlic-costed leaves. I sprinkled Diatomaceous Earth on the potato plants, they ate them up. The new trees in the orchard had new growth on them, telling us the root systems were getting established nicely. Today, the leaves are gone and the grasshoppers are stripping the bark off the branches!
    I am beside myself with aggravation, frustration and disappointment. We tried something last year called Cyonara that the man at the nursery said would kill them on contact. It didn’t seem to affect them at all. Someone else this year suggested it, so we will try again, but we don’t hold out much hope. I just can’t seem to find any organic methods that work, much as I would like to avoid nasty chemicals.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck June 3, 17:02

      Use a net, catch ’em; store ’em in a paper bag for a few days, drop them in hot oil and fry ’em and eat ’em. Deep fried grasshoppers are a delicacy in many countries. Dip them in soy sauce and eat when you are watching sports on TV with beer. Some izakaya in Japan serve them as snacks to accompany the drinks.

      High protein snacks. Better for you than Doritos and potato chips.

      Hire some grade school kids to net them for you. Pay them a bounty of so much per grasshopper. If you have kids of your own, put them to work this summer catching grasshoppers. They also make great bait for fishing.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck June 4, 02:05

        I forgot to add: Have a prize each day for the kid who snags the most grasshoppers. Something they would really like that won’t bust the budget. Eight to ten year olds are the best source for enthusiastic insect catchers. With a contest, they will spend most of the day swinging their nets at grasshoppers. You can have a clear plastic garbage bag for them to put the grasshoppers in so that you can county them or you can just weigh the bag if you have a postal scale. After weigh-in, drop the grasshoppers in kerosene. Gasoline is better, but not around kids. Too much of a chance of something untoward happening. An empty gallon milk jug would do. Screw the lid on to keep the hoppers in until the kerosene does them in. If the kids are as eager as I think they will be, you might need a jug for each kid.

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    • IvyMike June 4, 01:24

      The only treatment is a biologic called Nolo, but it is only effective early in the season when the hoppers are in the early nymph stage. And while it might kill all the nymphs on your property, grasshoppers swarm over long distances. Some years are grasshopper years and if you can’t put a wire mesh barrier between them and dinner you are going to lose the battle. Many parts of Africa are having a SHTF year with the Covidia, oil price collapse, and Biblical locust plagues, the locust being a humble grasshopper until huge population explosions send them out in voracious migratory swarms that spread across whole continents.
      You can eat bugs, but canned chili is a lot better tasting.
      Cyonara? I bet he said hasta la vista and had a good laugh after you left.

      Reply to this comment
    • red June 5, 05:10

      sabel: Can you keep poultry? Turkeys will decimate grasshoppers and other bugs. chickens love them, and so do ducks.
      You have them coming in from the surrounding area. Do you have netting for the trees? Did you try surround? Don’t make your own, it suffocates trees! This is made to protect from bugs and sun, as well as birds and garden raiders. niio

      Reply to this comment
  7. TheSouthernNationalist June 4, 22:28

    I saw a neat trick to protect cabbage and other cruciferous veggies from the cabbage moth.

    Place stakes about every three feet in the row of cabbage about a foot over the cabbage.

    Take some old socks or cloth and fill with moth balls and nail that to the top of the stake, place a plastic cup (Dixie Cup) over the sock to protect it from rain, secure it with a thumb tack.

    The scent is masked and those varmits can go elsewhere.

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    • left coast chuck June 5, 02:41

      Makes sense. Moth balls are to drive away moths, I don’t believe they differentiate between plain old closet moths and cabbage moths. I probably am completely off base, but a moth is a moth is a moth in my lexicon.

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    • red June 5, 06:32

      Yeah, that’s good to keep most pests, even deer out of the garden. But, I can only envision 2 scenario with this. 1) PETA freaks hand out tiny gas masks, so the collard patch is devastated. 2) Antifa shows up, tries to burn the patch to protest ‘fascist’ gardening, sets fire to the mothballs, and burns down half of the county.
      that, or they catch fire after sunrise.
      I’ve seen them used against deer and bears in orchards. One in a groundhog burrow will encourage Punxsutawney Phil to relocate. I’d use them on the ground squirrels, but you know them PETA people… niio

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    • City Chick June 6, 15:13

      Excellent advice! I thank you. My Swiss Chard thanks you too! I know otherwise it will get eaten alive! Consider it done!

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