The tell-tale signs of slugs or cabbage worms...holes on the outer leaves.
The tell-tale signs of slugs or cabbage worms…holes on the outer leaves.

It’s the question we get more than any other this time of year : “What can I use in the garden to naturally control insects like beetles, aphids, and more?”

If you’re like us, the last thing you want to do is to start spraying all types of chemicals and concoctions onto the very food you are trying to grow in order to eat healthier. The good news is you don’t have to.  In many cases – with proper crop rotation and watering techniques – you can keep pest problems to a minimum without ever spraying a single drop of anything on them other than water. (See Our 4 Part Series On Garden Set-up And Maintenance)

But as we all know too well – sometimes that just isn’t enough…and when your plants begin to show significant damage from marauding pests – there are ways to control them safely with natural ingredient remedies.  Our favorite two of choice are Hot Pepper Spray and Garlic Oil Spray.  They are both safe, not-toxic, inexpensive to make – and best of all – really work!

Don’t Jump The Gun – Before You Do Anything – Make Sure You Actually Need To Spray…

Just because you find a slug or two on a plant - don't think you have to go into full spray mode...most insect problems can be handled just by picking them off.
Just because you find a slug or two on a plant – don’t think you have to go into full spray mode…most insect problems can be handled just by picking them off.

So before you start reaching for those hot pepper flakes…first and foremost – make sure you really have a problem before taking action to eradicate or kill pests. Simply seeing a few leaves damaged by aphids, slugs or beetles doesn’t mean you have to leap into action like Ghostbusters hunting down evil villains.

Remember that there are just as many good insects (if not more) than bad at work in your garden.  All of them play a vital role in the success of not just your garden – but your yard and landscape.  Nature is an amazing process and more times than not – problems or infestations take care of themselves with natural predators.  When you spray – you can take out good insects as well as the bad.

To be quite honest – we rarely spray anything whatsoever in our garden or yard – opting to be okay with a little damage here and there from a slug or aphid.

When You Need To Spray…

So with all of that said…what if you really do have a problem?  If  plants are being severely damaged – and beginning to take a toll on your yields – here are two great homemade remedies that we have found to really help control garden pests – hot pepper spray  – and garlic oil spray.  The hot pepper spray is effective for aphid control – as well as deterring many rodents and animals such as groundhogs, moles and even deer.  The garlic spray is also good for aphids and many insects and slugs.  We tend to use the hot pepper spray more when we do have to spray – but they are both effective.


The best time to apply is early in the evening – the plants are dry from the day’s sun –  and most insects like to come out to eat in the overnight hours. To apply – you can use a simple spray bottle – making sure to get a nice even coat of the mixture over all of the foliage – even the underside of leaves as much as you can.  If you have more than a few plants – using a simple 1 or 2 Gallon Pump Sprayer makes quick work of the chore.

You will need to re-apply every 3 to 5 days to protect your plants – as well as re-applying after a rainfall.  As a word of caution – remember the hot pepper spray will burn if you get in your eyes – so spray with caution.  If using on vegetables that you are about to pick – make sure to wash the vegetables with water when you harvest to rinse off any of the hot pepper residue.  If not – you might have some hot tasting tomatoes! πŸ™‚

The best part of using natural sprays is the cost – you can mix gallons of either recipe for under a dollar – making it not just safe to use – but economical!  We have listed both recipes below.


Hot Pepper Spray Recipe :

Hot pepper flakes ground and ready to use!
Hot pepper flakes ground and ready to use!

1 gallon of water, 3 Tablespoons of hot pepper flakes  (or  10 peppers chopped up finely if using fresh peppers (cayenne works the best – but you can certainly use jalapenos, Habanero’s or other varieties.)

We prefer to add the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Heating the liquid will help to infuse the oils from the hot peppers into the water – making for a more potent spray.  Let the mixture sit for about 24 hours to absorb the hot pepper flakes – then strain and add a couple of drops of natural biodegradable dish soap to the gallon of mix.  (This helps the mixture stick to the plants better).

You  can mix ingredients cold and let sit for 36 to 48 hours – occasionally shaking the jug if you prefer not heating.  You will need to strain the cold mix as well and add a few drops of dish soap and you are ready to spray!

Garlic Spray 

Garlic is a great natural toxin to insects.
Garlic is a great natural toxin to insects – and makes a great ingredient for a natural bug spray.

Ingredients:  garlic, olive oil, dish soap and water,

Add 2 cloves of minced garlic to a one tablespoon of olive oil to 1 gallon of water.

Let the mixture sit and steep for at least 24 hours (48 hours is better)

Strain out the garlic and add a couple of drops of natural biodegradable dish soap to the gallon.

You are ready to spray!  It is best to spray the garlic mixture in the evening and not during the hot sun – as the olive oil can content can tend to burn the leaves if hit by the sun when first applied.

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary ( See Recipe Below)

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32 thoughts on “How To Battle Pests Naturally With Hot Pepper and Garlic Spray

  • June 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Can someone give me a fail-proof recipe to kill earwigs? I have thousands of them under the soil thanks to California finally getting some rain this last winter. They eat my tender plants before they can establish. My garden is totally organic so I don’t want to use poisons.
    Please HELP!!!!

  • May 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I need something for Asparagus Beatles, will this work?

  • May 8, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Could you mix the hot pepper and garlic together? Would that be bad or reduce effectiveness?

    • June 3, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Sure, I use a recipe with fresh serrano peppers and fresh garlic, works for all my plants including fruit trees.

  • May 6, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Do you have any advice for deer?

  • April 7, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Do you have a name brand for the natural biodegradable dish soap?

  • December 23, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Do these remedies work to get rid of cabbage moths & larva. This past summer I had a really bad problem with them. They kept invading my beet, turnip & kohlrabi plants & leaves.

  • October 31, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    thank you so much good advice

  • April 20, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks so much for the recipes they are great. I was wondering though, how quickly the garlic and pepper spray works? My plants are not horrible but I can notice holes in the leaves and some brown spots. Im seriously gonna cry if my plants die. Im doing a container garden and its my 1st one so im really excited about it.any advice is greatly appreciated.

  • February 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for limiting the comments section to 5 per page. Makes it real easy to read.

  • April 14, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    can you spray the hot pepper solousation on roses to kill aspids

  • October 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Looking for a remedy for whiteflies.

  • September 21, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Does this work on fleas we get rid of them and they just keep coming back

  • July 23, 2013 at 5:40 am

    We just simmered up a batch of red chili pepper spray, and I have one thing to say. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated! We were coughing and teary-eyed for a while! Essentially, we pepper-sprayed the whole house! Other than that, it worked like a charm!

  • July 22, 2013 at 8:10 am

    This is so great–I knew about the garlic and the hot pepper sprays, but not the recipes. Thank you so much~off to mix some up!

    • July 22, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Glad you liked! Good luck and let us know how it works for you!

  • July 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Does anyone have a remedy for yellow jackets that have nested inside my planter bed. It is a new nest, but it’s in my new planter box, which is full of new soil and I don’t want to ruin the soil with poison. Also, I have already tried to suffocate them by closing up the entrance, they only made a new one. Ahhh, help!

  • July 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    do you have any remedies for elder bugs? I have a lot of them on my plants?

    • July 18, 2013 at 7:13 am

      Debbie – I’m not sure if the hot pepper spray would deter them or not – we are lucky enough to not have them here. I do know from reading from other gardeners that they will do little damage to plants and are more of a nuisance pest than anything.

  • July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Have you ever tried using hot sauce instead of going through the hot pepper boiling & setting? I have it still works just fine.

  • July 17, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I have a question that maybe you can help me with, my Shasta daisys are dying at the root, they come up and then start to wilt from the bottom of the stem and when I pull them up the roots look dead, this doesn’t seem to affect any other plants. Thank you, Jane –

  • July 16, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    First, I’m wondering if either of these sprays, or both, can be tasted on fruits and vegetables. What if I nibble on some vegetables in my garden before washing them? Or, do they wash off easily so there’s no taste? Should I not spray a certain amount of time before harvesting?

    Second, I’m surprised at how little pepper flakes and garlic are used; I would have guessed much more is needed. BUT I’m very happy to be wrong – these are very inexpensive recipes… and easy to do.

    Third, I’m wondering whether the garlic recipe is strong enough to help with outdoor mosquito control when sprayed on foliage and grass throughout the yard. There are commercial garlic products for this purpose, but I’m guessing their garlic content per unit of water is much higher. Some people who use those products report there’s no garlic smell after a couple of hours following spraying while others report an on-going garlic smell. Now I’m wondering if this recipe is strong enough to work against mosquitoes, which would save money and possibly prevent the smell. (If it’s not, it looks like it would be easy to up the ratio of garlic, but I don’t know if a strong homemade garlic spray would damage plant leaves, esp. if they’re in the sun.) If anyone’s interested in learning more about this just search garlic and mosquitoes.

    I’ll really appreciate these recipes. Slugs L-O-V-E my petunias and I don’t like using available commercial products, even the organic ones.

  • July 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Great idea. Any ideas on how to get rid of squash bugs naturally – other than stepping on them? (You would need to be VERY fast!)

  • July 16, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for the post. I have been battling something out there in the garden. How do you know what pests are causing damage? I lost my entire Swiss chard crop but not sure how to find the culprits. I love your blog!

  • July 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Baker Family Ministry News and commented:
    I just read a helpful article on battling garden pests naturally. Today is one of the few days this summer where we’ve actually seen the sun! We’ve had an enormous amount of rain these last few weeks, and I have an enormous amount of garden work to do (beginning with weed control)! I know as soon as I step foot in the garden, I’m likely to see tons of little bugs feasting on my crops. Since we don’t use chemical pesticides in our garden, I’m following the advice in this article. For those of you who “like” and responded to my post on using pepper flakes to rid the garden of potato bugs, be aware that I was unknowingly wasting the pepper. I should have added a bit of flakes to a pan of water to make them go further. Oh well, we live and learn.

    On another note, thanks to the viewing of the Skydiving in Dubai video that I watched last night, I woke up this morning feeling energetic and excited about a brand new day!! Always works. I have a few other favorites that I’ll be posting in the future, so stay tuned! πŸ™‚

    • May 28, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      I use 2 Tb. molasses 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar in 1 pint of water. I put this in shallow bowls in the dirt with the top even with the dirt and fill with this liquid. Changing several times during the week. This works on the adults and the nymphs. I have not found any way to rid my plants of the eggs other then cutting the leaf.

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