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I love where I live. With Sonoma’s breathtaking beauty among her rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and the close-knit community I am blessed to call home, it's easy to say I love what I do. As a real estate professional and food writer, Sonoma Dish endeavors to share with you my enthusiasm for living the wine country lifestyle.



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  • Writer's picture Therese Nugent

Bug Off! Solutions for Keeping Pesky Insects Away

Out of the more than ten quintillion insects on Earth, only five per cent are actually harmful. But as luck would have it, it’s those five per cent that you are most likely to encounter around your home. While bugs are an inevitable part of life, we can keep these uninvited guests to a minimum with some easy, practical and non-toxic solutions.


A simple way to keep mosquitoes away is to have air moving in the area. Ceiling fans for outdoor spaces are ideal in creating and maintaining airflow. Another important mosquito deterrent is to get rid of any standing water where mosquitos lay their eggs. Regularly clean out birdbaths, fountains, and other water features. Empty out buckets and other objects containing trapped rainwater. And bats love to eat mosquitoes. If you’re so inclined, set up a home for them on your property.

Hornets, Wasps and Yellow jackets

Instead of using chemical sprays, experts suggest using deterrents. These flying nuisances are territorial, so hanging a “fake” nest can keep them from coming near you. Additionally, there are traps containing non-toxic (to humans and pets) compounds that lure and kill these potentially harmful flying insects.


There’s an old wives’ tale that ants will not cross a chalk line. When dining outdoors, draw a chalk line around your patio or porch to keep the pests at bay. And it wouldn’t hurt to draw a line at exterior door entrances. Other deterrents to consider are those involving smell. Ants have a very keen sense of smell and hate black pepper. To deter indoors, put a light dusting where ants have been seen. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and unappealing to ants. A 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle can come in handy in wiping down counters and shelves. And evidently, fresh cucumber peels contain a compound that repels ants. If it makes sense, place the peels in high ant traffic areas and see it that helps.

Gnats and Fruit Flies

Unlike ants, fruit flies and gnats love vinegar. If they are a nuisance, try this trick. Fill a small bowl with apple cider vinegar and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Using a wooden skewer, poke two or three holes into the plastic. The insects will fly in through the holes to get to the vinegar but won’t be able to fly out.


Unfortunately, ticks have zero redeeming characteristics. Ticks can spread a number of harmful diseases, including debilitating Lyme disease. Statistically, Sonoma County is ground zero for Lyme disease in California. Repelling ticks is difficult. There is evidence that spreading diatomaceous earth (also know as DE) on the perimeters of outdoor gathering areas might keep ticks away. DE works by fatally dehydrating ticks but they must first walk through it. Also, evidence suggests using essential oils such as lemon eucalyptus and rose geranium to repel ticks might work.

There’s no denying it, when bugs come around they bug us. So give these non-toxic solutions a try. And BTW, there are eighteen zeros in a quintillion. That’s a lot of bugs.

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