So, you have a pest infestation and you need to get rid of the bugs on your cantaloupe.
They’re eating up all that sweet, sweet golden orange fruit when it should be for YOU.
In this guide, we’ll talk about:
- Identifying the bug-eating your cantaloupe
- Common cantaloupe pests
- How to get rid of bugs eating your muskmelon
- How to keep bugs off your cantaloupe
- And more
You should have an arsenal of DIY home remedies to keep your muskmelon free of pests by the end of this page.
Sound good? Let’s get rid of those cantaloupe pests.
What is eating my cantaloupe?
Cantaloupe (muskmelon) has a very strong, sweet aroma that attracts a lot of different pests, especially when the fruit is damaged, split, or open.
You’ll find fleas, worms, maggots, flies, beetles, aphids, and everything else in between.
Depending on the type of bug and how long the infestation has been going on, it can be very easy or very difficult to get them under control.
The key to identifying the pest is to monitor your cantaloupe (leaves, stems, and fruit) as you practice the DIY remedies outlined here. You may encounter multiple bug species all eating it up at the same time.
This guide contains various techniques to control all sorts of different critters you’ll come across. If you have no idea what’s eating your cantaloupe, check out the list of cantaloupe pests on this page and try to identify it.
Then take it from there and apply a few different home remedies.
Cantaloupe diseases are more dangerous
As scary as the bugs may seem, diseases are more lethal.
Did you know cantaloupes are susceptible to nasty virtual and bacterial diseases and can’t fight on their own?
Pests CAN contribute to whittling away at the cantaloupe plant’s natural defense and make it even more susceptible to getting a fungal or viral plant disease.
And usually, after it gets an infection, the plant starts to wilt, droop, and stunt growth, which attracts even more bugs. It’s a vicious cycle.
Here are some common fungal, viral, and bacterial diseases for muskmelon:
- Rind rot
- Charcoal rot
- Alternaria leaf spot
- Angular leaf spot
- Downy mildew
- Fusarium wilt
- Gummy stem flight
- Anaphora wet rot
- Monosporascus root rot
- Powdery mildew
- Root-knot nematodes
- Papaya ringspot
- Watermelon mosaic
- Zucchini yellow mosaic
- Squash mosaic
- Tobacco ringspot
- Squash leaf curl
- Papaya ringspot
- Cucumber mosaic
Usually, it’ll start with a disease, followed by bugs, then both at the same time. It’s not uncommon to find muskmelon in terrible condition with both a pest problem and fungal disease at the same time.
You may find any of these bugs eating your cantaloupe.
How to get rid of bugs on cantaloupe
Here are some ways you can get rid of cantaloupe pests at home.
Try out a few of these DIY remedies and see what works. They won’t ALL work, and that’s why it’s critical to test and see what works for you.
Every infestation is unique and requires its own management and control. Use multiple methods at the same time for efficiency.
Once you find a few that work, scale them up and shield your muskmelons from bugs. For good.
Use sand or pebbles as a substrate
Pests like fungus gnats, flies, and beetles will dig beneath the soil to lay their eggs.
The larvae generally feed around the roots of the melon plant and chew on it.
This can be dangerous to younger cantaloupe seedlings, and you may not even notice it since they’re hidden from view.
You can stop or slow bugs from depositing eggs by using a 1” layer of pebbles above the surface layer of soil. The rocks make it difficult for the pests to dig through the soil and lay eggs, which can stop their lifecycle and prevent future infestation.
Anything solid and small in diameter works: pebbles, river rocks, small rocks, marbles, big rocks, gravel, etc.
Add a thin layer around the base of the cantaloupe plant spanning in a full circle.
If you’re growing the muskmelon in a planter, cover the entire layer of soil with pebbles. If you’re growing in the ground, cover with at least an 8” distance from the stem in all directions.
Sand can be an excellent deterrent for all sorts of pests that eat cantaloupe.
The sand is placed around the root of the plant and layered onto an 0.5” thickness.
Because sand is so fine, it makes it difficult for fleas and flying pests to lay eggs around your muskmelon.
This can be used for both potted and soil environments. You can get pure sand from any hardware store- play sand and pool filter sand are both excellent substrates.
Attract beneficial bugs
Sometimes you can control and manage muskmelon pests by attracting their natural predators to your yard.
There are two widespread beneficial insects you can utilize to help eat up the various bugs that are eating your cantaloupe.
Whether you’re dealing with:
These bugs will help kill them for you and keep their numbers down.
You’ll want to make sure that you can either attract them to your yard OR buy them online and use them in a controlled environment.
Although many people consider ladybugs to be pests, they’re known to be one of the most beneficial bugs around.
They consume pest eggs, larvae, and even small bugs like aphids, ants, and small spiders.
Ladybugs can be used to eradicate many different bugs that eat cantaloupe and you may never even have to resort to using toxic pesticides nor doing any additional work.
Why? Because they’ll do all the work for you. Ladybugs will also leave on their own after there’s no more food to eat. So don’t be afraid of being stuck with them roaming your yard.
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The first you need to do is ensure you live in an area where ladybugs can thrive. You can check out this resource for more details.
If so, then here are some easy ways to bring more of them to your garden:
- Plant flowers and herbs like geraniums, cilantro, fennel, yarrow, tansy, angelica, cosmos, and coreopsis
- Have plenty of pollen-producing flowers
- Don’t cover your cantaloupe plants with other plants- make them accessible to the ladybugs
- Nectar producing plants also attract ladybugs
- Add a source of water (dewdrops, water fountains, birdbaths, or just water your plants in the morning)
- Build a ladybug house
And if you really can’t attract them, you can special order them online and put them into a mini-greenhouse, which we’ll cover below.
Predatory wasps can also kill many different bugs that feed on muskmelon. Wasps can thrive in a variety of different environments and you can attract them to your yard to help control the pest population.
As with any other predatory wasp, you’ll want to make sure they can thrive in your area.
If so, here are some tips to attract wasps to your yard:
- Lay out a piece of deli meat near your cantaloupe plant
- Provide plenty of hiding places
- Use sugar water, soda, fruit juice, or jam in a bowl near your plants
- Wasps will prey on beetles, aphids, and more. They can be an effective means to help control other pests, but because wasps are a stinging insect, you need to be careful.
- Always wear proper PPE and avoid contact with them. If you have allergies, do NOT handle wasps or use this method.
Use a mini greenhouse trap
This method is pretty unique.
You’ll need to order a small greenhouse or buy one from the store that can fit your cantaloupe plant. This works efficiency with smaller seedlings, but if you have an established cantaloupe, you’ll need to use an outdoor greenhouse.
The trick is to fully enclose the plant in the greenhouse and then release ladybugs.
They’ll continue to feed on the insects eating your plants until there are none left.
Since they’re trapped in the greenhouse, they have nowhere to go and must eat the bugs infesting your muskmelon.
When there are no more pests left, you’re good to go. They’ll eat the nymphs and larvae when available and effectively stop the lifecycle for you.
You’ll need to care for your cantaloupe during the process with proper lighting and watering. You can use hydroponic systems and indoor plant lights if you’re doing this indoors.
Outdoors should be fine with just regular watering and sunlight through the greenhouse roof. Just watch the temperature.
You can even make your own miniature greenhouse:
After you’re done, the ladybugs can be released.
Use DIY dish soap
As you already know, your dishwasher detergent can be a very powerful bug killer.
All you need is 1-2 tablespoons per quart of water. Mix them. Then pour the solution into a sprayer and spray your muskmelon.
This will kill any larvae, nymphs, or adult pests on your plant.
Not ALL bugs will be killed, but most can’t tolerate dish soap because of the high surface tension that traps and drowns them.
Be sure to water your plants after you spray because it can harm the cantaloupe leaves if it’s too concentrated. Apply daily in the morning or after sunset.
Avoid direct sunlight on the solution because this can burn your plant.
Always test a small portion on a single leaf first. If you don’t notice any damage, then apply to the entire muskmelon. You can adjust the concentration as necessary- add more soap if it doesn’t kill the bugs.
Add less soap if it’s too powerful and burns the melon.
Any dish soap can be used. Some people have also had success with laundry soap, bar soap, and hand soap. Avoid any detergents labeled as “antibacterial” as this can harm your plant.
Anything else should be OK. If you want to keep natural or organic, there ARE organic soaps out there that you can buy.
Considering that you’ll be eating the fruit, you need to use organic soap if you want to keep it as pure as possible and free from chemicals.
Set up sticky traps
Flying pests can be controlled with a series of sticky traps or sticky tape.
You can buy this at your local hardware store and apply it around your plants. If you have it growing in a potted container, line the outer perimeter of the pot with sticky tape.
You can also tape across the diameter of the plant- multiple times. This will catch any crawling or flying bugs that buzz around your cantaloupe. Use as directed by the label.
Sticky traps come in dozens of designs.
Find one that’s suited for flies, vinegar flies, fruit flies, or aphids and use it as directed. Typically, you’ll hang the trap near the plant. There’s usually some kind of bait or lure that gets the flying insects drawn to the trap.
They fly in and can’t escape, or they’re stuck on an adhesive. This is also a chemical-free way to naturally get rid of muskmelon pests. Sure, the inside of the trap may have some kind of pesticide.
But quality traps will actually TRAP the pest and not let it back out. Therefore, the chemicals never reach your cantaloupe.
There are also sticky stakes, which are just stakes you stick right into the dirt and are extremely sticky to flies.
You can also make your own by just placing a layer of sticky tape around the stake and staking it as needed. You can also use 4 stakes and place them in the four corners of a square around the cantaloupe.
Then use sticky tape and build a “square of stickiness” by connecting each stake with tape. This is effective to keep crawling pests out. The tape should touch the soil surface so they can’t crawl under it.
Any crawling pest will have to make contact with the adhesive and get stuck.
This is best used around each muskmelon plant so you can trap them individually.
Harvest on time (or early)
Harvesting your cantaloupe at the right time can help prevent attracting a whole host of bugs.
As the name states, muskmelon releases a strong odor (that sweet smell) which is attractive to pests. They detect the odor and seek out the melon to eat it.
Failing to harvest at the right time results in spoilage, which no fruit-feeder can resist. Once the rime breaks apart and all the fruit is accessible, all sorts of bugs will come.
And they’ll eat the other fruits that aren’t ripe yet. And this is when it becomes very hard to get rid of all those muskmelon pests.
You should always harvest before ripeness and on time. Never miss a harvest.
Dispose of the spoiled or broken ones. Don’t just leave them there to rot. This is a terrible practice and ends up with more bugs than you started with.
Remove them manually
This is probably not the most appealing option for many, but your hands can be a very precise (and awesome) bug removal tool.
Get ready to get dirty and put on your favorite pair of garden gloves.
Wear some long sleeves and pants. Put on your sunscreen and garden hat. It’s time to do some dirty work!
Get a bucket and fill it up with a few drops of dish soap and water. It should have visible suds at the surface layer.
Next, start combing through your cantaloupe plant. Check the leaves, stems, and under the fruit for pests. Any that come across, pick them off and toss them into the bucket.
They’ll instantly be killed by the soap and water mixture. “Groom” you plant daily, twice a day.
Over time, you’ll notice fewer and fewer bugs, unless you have a server infestation.
Although this takes a lot of time and isn’t the most efficient, it really does help dent the pest population. The key is to be consistent. If you stop, the bugs can deposit eggs, mate, or hatch and this will just continue the problem.
You need to do this daily for months until you see that the number of bugs has dropped significantly. It’s also a surefire way to monitor the different types of insects you have and how many are left.
If you really can’t do it by hand, here are some alternatives:
Use a vacuum
A portal handheld vacuum can do wonders for sucking bugs off leaves.
You can use a handy shop vac or an upright vacuum with a hose. Suck up those bugs regularly and dispose of the bag or empty the canister when you’re done.
Don’t leave the bugs in the vacuum because they can escape or attract other predatory pests to your vacuum.
And also be careful of sucking up water or dirt accidentally. Some vacuums can’t handle this and can severely damage the components. Read your user’s manual for more details.
Use tweezers or forceps
A pair of tweezers can be useful for slow-moving beetles, such as the striped cucumber beetle, cabbage looper, or other cantaloupe worms.
Just pick them up and toss them right into your soapy water solution. You can use any old tweezers from a toolset or makeup set.
Some first aid kits also have them if you have one lying around. They don’t work well for fast bugs because you’ll be chasing them with such a small tool to catch the target!
Use a sponge
Take an old sponge and wet it in the soapy water mixture. Then use it to “wipe” your cantaloupe plant. This will pull off any bugs that are crawling on it.
The soap and water break their grip and easily cleans them off the plant.
Pretend you’re polishing the plant- get all the leaves, under the leaves, the muskmelon fruit, and the stems.
You can wrap the sponge around the stem and remove TONS of bugs at once that appear in large numbers. The wet sponge method is effective against aphids, ants, and beetles.
Spray with a garden hose
The water pressure blasts off most bugs on the leaves and fruit of your plant. Just use a hose that has a nozzle attachment (or just use your finger) and spray off the pests.
Do this twice per day- preferably when you water your plants to save time. This will disturb the bugs and with constant disturbance, some insects drop out and leave the area.
Some nymphs also can’t climb back onto the plant once they fall off, which will destroy them since they can’t reach those green leaves to chew on.
Mulch holds water, which will bring bugs to your muskmelon. Avoid using excess mulch or replace it with another substrate entirely.
You can use wood chips, straw, or even just regular high-quality potting mix with moisture-retaining properties.
Swap out that mulch for something that’s not as absorbent to repel pests and keep them away from your melon naturally.
Excess moisture is always a bad thing. It’s bad for your plants. It’s bad to deter pests. It’s bad for your water bill.
Don’t think that adding in some gallons of water will do your melon good. Unless it’s severely under-watered and showing signs of dehydration (drooping), all you need to do is monitor the top few inches of soil and ensure that it’s wet.
Otherwise, stop overwatering. This just leads to water buildup and brings all sorts of bugs to your property.
You should also avoid excess plant food or fertilizer, as both of these can contribute nutrients to your soil.
Bugs will seek out this nutritious food source and swarm your plants, which can lead to a quick infestation. If you see bugs appear on your melons overnight, check for fertilizer or water buildup in your drains or soil.
If you’re using old soil or poor-draining soil, replace it or mulch it to keep it draining properly.
Clean out gutters
Check your water runoff and make sure that’s draining properly. If it’s backed up, plant food and water won’t drain and this will lead to buildup.
Most people have their muskmelon planted directly into a bed of dirt. If you notice that your soil remains moist or “pools” of water in some parts of the soil, it could be blocked from draining efficiently.
You may have to turn over the soil to fix the problem.
This is why you always put a layer of rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the pit before you pack on the soil. This will help ensure a proper flow of water away from your cantaloupe.
This microbe establishes a parasitic relationship with the larvae and eventually kills them. Many farmers and commercial growers use Bt to protect large fields of crops because it’s considered to be a safe approach.
Thankfully, some companies make Bt available for the average gardener. You can buy it online or at specialty stores.
Most will come in a small, secure container and may require dilution.
Read the directions and apply them as directed. A syringe is used for application and you’ll have to mix precise measurements according to the package directions.
You’ll likely directly apply the Bt into the stem of the cantaloupe about 1” from the soil line.
Keep the cantaloupe melons elevated
Try to keep your cantaloupe off the ground by elevating them.
This eliminates a significant amount of crawling insects from ever reaching the fruit.
Being higher up also dissuades bugs from being attracted to the ripe fruit because it’s harder to detect being up so high.
There are many different ways you can raise the muskmelon from the floor, and here are a few quick methods:
Use a sling
You can use any old fabric, quilt, or handkerchief to make a sling for your melons.
Get some garden stakes and place them on each side of the fruit. Then tie the quilt at each end so it’s like a hammock.
Place the fruit directly into the fabric and you’re all set. Use a coarse fabric so water can drain through it when it rains, rather than collecting in it and rotting your fruit.
Build a PVC platform
PVC is the DIY’s favorite building material because it’s cheap and you can build anything.
There are dozens of ways to build a platform, but all you’ll need is some PVC pipe, elbow joints, and some PVC cement.
Here are some videos showing off various designs:
Use bug traps
Bug traps can be bought at any hardware store and come in different designs.
You’ll need to purchase the right trap for the type of bugs you’re dealing with.
- If you have flying ones, get a triangular trap that hangs on your plant or a stake.
- If you have crawling ones, you’ll need a different type of trap or adhesive tape.
Find out what bug is eating your cantaloupe. Then buy the proper trap for them.
You can use the list of common pests that eat muskmelon below as a guide to identify the cantaloupe bug.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth can be an excellent natural pest repellent.
This is a white powdery substance that’s commonly used for pools and food storage.
How it works is by cutting up bugs that walk over it.
The powder sticks to their legs, body, and antenna and creates micro incisions through their exoskeleton. They’ll leak out precious nutrients and water over time, and will become dehydrated.
Although DE doesn’t kill bugs immediately, most will dehydrate within 2 days. DE is also relatively safe for humans, though you should avoid contact with it when possible and always wear proper PPE.
Buy some food-grade, pure diatomaceous earth and then grab a spoonful and slowly sprinkle it around the stems of your cantaloupe plant.
Make a “diatomaceous earth ring” around the stem. This forces any bugs to crawl on the powder so they MUST touch it to climb up the stalk of your muskmelon.
You can also sprinkle some on the surface of the soil or around the perimeter of the planter if you’re using one. The key is to make sure any insect that tries to eat your cantaloupe MUST crawl on the DE.
Once they come into contact with it, they’re doomed. It’s that easy.
Diatomaceous earth will need to be applied after rain, water, or wind.
Try not to get it wet when you water your plants and apply it in areas that are shielded from the wind. If you can’t, then reapply as needed.
When it gets wet, it loses some efficacy against repelling and killing bugs, so you need to make sure it stays dry or use more when needed.
Here’s a list of bugs that diatomaceous earth can kill:
- Ants (army ants, carpenter ants, etc.)
- Household roaches
- Bed bugs
Pure DE is non-toxic, so it’s relatively safe for people, pets, and kids.
But you should still minimize and avoid contact when possible as it should NOT be ingested and can cause eye, face, and skin irritation to sensitive individuals.
You can also line the perimeter of your muskmelon plot with the powder. Make a large square of DE like a moat and this will force any crawling insects to touch it when they come to your fruit.
Use proper plant spacing
Cantaloupes are seriously prone to fungal diseases. This is usually more of a threat to them than pests.
But when combined, bugs feeding on a diseased cantaloupe plant is almost always lethal to the plant if you don’t step in and save your fruit.
By spacing out your melon seedlings from one another, you can reduce the chance of fungal infections affecting nearby melons AND also make it easier to treat insect infestations.
Of course, if you already planted a few rows of cantaloupe, this isn’t always feasible.
However, if your plants are still young or you’re willing to transplant, you can space cantaloupe in rows of 2 plants per row, 6 feet apart.
The vines will grow outwards and must be controlled using stakes or trellis. Keep temperatures above 60F and below 90F.
When properly spaced, this can disturb and cut off the disease cycles by helping air get between each row of plants. Airflow is critical to minimize rot and fungal diseases like Fusarium wilt, downy mildew, belly rot, Verticillium wilt, powdery mildew, and cucumber mosaic virus.
Circulation will keep the air moving and reduces the chance of stunt or wilt disorders. Other common muskmelon diseases are yellow mosaic virus, watermelon mosaic virus, yellow stunt disorder, monosporactus root rot, sudden wilt, and angular leafshop.
Keep the rows spaced from each other and keep the melons elevated. This will help reduce the disease cycles and also keep bugs off that are on the soil surface.
Use row covers
Any experienced gardener will recommend row covers for cantaloupe as it helps them in multiple ways.
You’ll want fitting, secure covers that extend for the length of the row and fasten down completely against the soil surface.
These covers help protect the fruit from aphids, cutworms, leafhoppers, whiteflies, squash bugs, wireworms, cucumber beetles, seed corn maggots, and more.
Row covers and continual monitoring can stop their infestation.
If you’ve never used any kind of vegetation cover before, check out this video for basic knowledge:
Keep your melons on sawdust or chips to help keep them off the soil surface.
Weeds that grow between your plant spacing can be a hiding place for bugs and viruses.
Always remove weeds when you notice them by pulling out the entire root. Weeds not only offer a place for pests to hide and congrats, but they steal nutrients from your muskmelon.
Keep them away and kill any weeds when you see them sprout. You can reduce watering to help control weeds around your cantaloupe.
Remove infested fruit
Any melons that have been infested, rotten, split, or have their fruit exposed needs to be disposed of immediately.
The sweet juices from the fruit will attract insects to your rows as they seep into the soil.
Dispose of the fruit by gently removing it from the vine and placing it into a trash bag. Tie it up and toss it into the trash.
Use essential oils
Essential oils have long been known as excellent natural bug deterrents.
There are many different types you can use, and they all work the same. You just add a few drops to a quart of water and spray your plant with it.
Be careful with using these oils because they can harm and burn the plant if it’s too concentrated.
Here are some oils you can use to keep bugs off your cantaloupe:
- Peppermint oil
- Basil oil
- Onion oil
- Lavender oil
- Citrus oil
- Garlic oil
- Rosemary oil
- Neem oil
Test it on a single leaf first. Then apply to the rest of the plant if it’s safe.
If you notice burning or damage, dilute the mixture and test it again.
Some people and pets are sensitive to these oils, so read the labels and do some research before you use any.
Hire an exterminator
When you’re out of options and just can’t seem to get rid of the bugs, consider hiring a licensed exterminator for professional treatment of your muskmelon pests. Many larger companies will evaluate the situation and give you a quote for free.
You can also ask the rep questions and probably also find out what kind of bug it is. Do some research and compare some quotes.
Pesticides for cantaloupe pests
If you need to resort to using commercial solutions to kill these bugs, look for something with pyrethrin.
This ingredient kills a variety of bugs that feed on muskmelon, such as cucumber beetles. However, you should avoid using toxic chemicals when possible.
After all, you’ll be harvesting and eating this fruit. And the last thing you need is a bunch of toxic pesticides all over it.
This is why I always recommend using natural DIY remedies rather than sprays from the store. And if you must use a spray, there ARE natural or even organic ones you can buy. Check those out first.
Here are some common pests you’ll find eating muskmelon.
Due to the sweet scent of the fruit, there are many different bugs that’ll be happy to take a bite out of your melons.
If you don’t know what bug you’re dealing with, comb through this list and see if you can do some research to find out:
- Darkling beetles
- Flea beetles
- Pickle worms
- Blister beetles
- Squash bug
- Stink bugs
- Spider mites
- Cucumber beetles
- Seedcorn maggots
- Dried fruit beetles
- Aphis gossypii
- Striped cucumber beetles
- Silverleaf whiteflies
- Beet armyworm
- Cabbage looper
- Fruit flies
- Melon flies
- Cantaloupe worms
How to keep bugs off my cantaloupe
Keeping bugs away from your muskmelon can be done with traps, sprays, and natural repellents.
You can set up a decent deterrent station by using a combination of these remedies:
- Surround your cantaloupe with a perimeter of borax or boric acid
- Set up sticky traps around the plants
- Hang a fly trap
- Elevate your melons off the soil
- Build a moat around the muskmelon and fill it with pebbles, river rocks, or sand
- Get rid of any fountains or water features nearby
- Spray diluted essential oils on the leaves (lavender, peppermint, rosemary, etc.)
- Use dish soap and water mixture once a day before watering
- Spray with diluted vinegar to repel bugs naturally
Depending on the severity of pests on your property, you may be able to easily keep bugs away from your cantaloupe just by using these techniques. If you live somewhere that has a lot of insects, you may need to do more to keep bugs off.
The key is to try out many different methods and see which works.
This is the bane of DIY pest control, but once you find it, you’ll be glad you did.
Here are some references you may find useful:
- Cantaloupe – PlantVillage
- Pests Commonly Found on Cantaloupe – VirginiaTech
- Cantaloupe and Specialty Melons – University of GA
Did you get rid of the bugs on your cantaloupe?
By now, you should have a definite foundation of knowledge to start controlling and eradicating cantaloupe pests.
Depending on the type of pest and its characteristics, it can be easy or extremely difficult to eliminate. Be patient and persistent.
- Find out WHAT the pest is.
- Plan a way to GET RID of them.
- Try MULTIPLE strategies, such as DIY home remedies at the SAME TIME.
- See what WORKS.
- Scale it UP.
And if you really can’t figure it out and you’re at your wit’s end, hire a licensed exterminator.
If you have any questions, drop a comment. Or if you have some suggestions for other readers, share them below.
Please consider telling a friend about this article if you found it helpful =].
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.