Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a gardener more than the thought of the minuscule and voracious insect. It's amazing how destructive such tiny creatures can be; smart gardeners deal with pest problems without delay. Healthy plants are the first defense; home remedies make smart strategies for eradicating insect invaders.
You can purchase insecticidal soap, but a homemade solution often works just as well. Add a couple of tablespoons of soap flakes or a good liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner's, to a spray bottle full of water. Keep it handy and apply it frequently to deter insects from munching on vegetable plant leaves. It is especially effective on aphids and whiteflies.
For insect invaders such as slugs, moths and fruit flies, traps can be an effective means of reducing the bug population. Moths are attracted to molasses, fruit flies are drawn to vinegar and slugs, believe it or not, like beer. Set out an empty container with the molasses, vinegar or beer near the area where you've spotted the insect pests. Check and empty regularly.
Make your own smelly but effective insect-deterrent spray by blending up two heads of garlic, a couple of hot peppers and a handful of any strongly odorous herb, such as mint, basil or cilantro. Exact proportions aren't important as long as the end result is, well, stinky. Blend your ingredients with enough water to puree, then pour it all in a spray bottle and dilute with water to a spraying consistency. Treat affected vegetable plants regularly.
Some plants have a strong scent which deters insects; the insects who make it past the scent and try to feed on the fragrant plants won't like the taste of the volatile oils which produce the scent. They won't come back for more. Planting any of these natural pest-deterring plants around the borders of your vegetable garden or container plantings will help reduce pest problems. Use basil to deter flies and mosquitoes; asters and chrysanthemums will repel most insects; plant borage to prevent tomato worms; garlic will repel Japanese beetles; nasturtiums help prevent aphids and squash bugs; and tansy keeps most flying insects away.