Bugs Taste Less with Garlic and Chili Pepper

That got your attention didn’t it?  Who can deny that garlic (and for most people) chili pepper makes things taste better?  Garden pests, that’s who.  They do not like it.  They have a very limited palate and it only includes non-weed items that are growing in your garden.  So I – and my title – stand corrected.  The bugs taste less because they are EATING less.  And what does this mean to a gal who dislikes organo-phosphates and other nasty chemicals on her food?

It means I can whip up a little garlic-pepper spray and put a damper on the bugs dining pleasure without putting a damper on any humans’ nervous system.  Love that.  Here’s how I make it.


Little Sis like to say Ch-Ch-Ch Chia, so why not G-G-G Garlic?  Kind of pretty, no?

First step.  Decide what spray bottle you intend to use for your spray.  You can make a large batch and refrigerate but it is a bit fragrant, and I don’t know whether it works best fresh or not, but as I know garlic tastes best (or worst if you are a garden-devouring insect) fresh, I usually make a batch at a time that will last me for 1 – 2 weeks depending on how often it rains.

Put a little less water than the amount you want to make in your blender.  I use a 32 oz. container and use 3-5 garlic cloves depending on their size.  I used the lovely trio above as they were generous cloves.  Cut off the bottom and peel off the paper and drop them into the blender.  Check out this action shot…


I call it ‘Falling Garlic.’

After the garlic I dump chili powder in the top – you could use fresh but this is easier.  I probably use between 1 – 2 teaspoons.


Blend it up being careful to have the lid down tight.  You don’t want this stuff in your eyes or spraying all over your kitchen for that matter.  Here comes another action shot…


It gets pretty foamy.  I let it run for maybe 30 seconds and the mixture works just fine.


Then you must strain it a little because tiny pieces of garlic skin can clog up your sprayer.  If you are using a larger heavy duty sprayer you may not have this problem but I broke my last sprayer because I was squeezing the handle very hard to overcome my non-strained G-P spray.  Striving for non-violence towards garden tools of all varieties, I now strain my spray.

I use a fine metal sieve over a funnel straight into the bottle.  I tried a coffee filter but the fluid wouldn’t drain well and then it ripped.


You all now see that you are no longer guests but are family as I made no effort (forgot) to hide the dirty pan on the stove.  Welcome to the family!

After straining there is just a little matter in my strainer.  If I get outside and am having difficulty with the sprayer I will pour the contents into another container, let it sit to settle and then slowly pour back through the strainer.

I recommend that you not leave this in the sun or high heat as it becomes really foul smelling.  Do not be downwind of this as you spray because hot pepper and garlic in the lungs or eyes is not a good thing – but it won’t add anything that is bad to eat to your lovely garden vegetables!

I use this and when it is not enough I supplement with Neem oil, which is also a good fungicide and something called Bull’s Eye Bioinsecticide from Garden’s Alive.  The heavier duty things used once in awhile help, with regular applications of G-P after a rain or when I notice new damage.

Have fun closing the bug dining facility in your garden!

54 responses

    • THAT’s a great idea. Perhaps the twins will help me make mine tomorrow and spray my cauliflower patch (with their eyes closed tightly of course). Isn’t opening weekend exciting?!

  1. Good luck with opening weekend – y’all must be a little North of me : ) My opening weekend as last weekend although I jumped it a little and was lucky enough to not pay for it. Go get those bugs : )

    • Hi Karen! I use the spray on all vegetables. The only fruits I’ve grown have been strawberries and I really did not have many problems with bugs – just birds, mice and slugs, so I didn’t use it. I have also never used it on flowers but I don’t grow roses and don’t seem to have many insect problems on flowers. Thanks for your question, let us know if you try it on fruits or flowers!

    • The only thing I know with Japanese Beetles is that they are kind of sluggish in the A.M. and if yo take a bucket of soapy water you can pretty much just knock them off your plants and into the soapy water where they drown. Devious and labor intensive but effective 🙂

    • I have never had a deer problem. Outlining an area you want rabbits free with a solution of water, human urine, ammonia and a dash of dish soap is miraculous. Only thing is you have to replace it after a rain. I just pee in a big gallon size pitcher, add a splash of ammonia, fill with water and add a dab of dish liquid right before I finish filling so I don’t get too many suds but it mixes in and pour it right around the perimeter of the garden. Good luck!

    • We have a LOT of hungry deer and I use this same process, substituting one egg for the garlic and spice. Spray the plants and items in the perimeter of your tasty plants – the deer hate the smell of eggs. I’ve used it successfully many times. Good luck.

      • Thank you Dianna for sharing that! I have not heard of that before. We currently do not have deer issues but I know lots of folks who do – I will share this with them. Thanks again!

    • I have trouble with squash bugs as well. It helps to keep the plants sprayed early in the season because that’s when the buggers lay eggs in the stem. Powdery mildew can also be a problem with my squash plants so I do the garlic pepper spray once a week (making sure to spray around the bottoms of the stems and several days after I use a milk, baking soda & water mix sprayed on the leaves. http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/controlling-or-eliminating-powdery-mildew/ talks about fighting powdery mildew. This works for me when I do it regularly, but if I start too late in the season or drop off the regularity then I have problems. I just add baking soda and milk to my water: Milk and baking soda for powdery mildew –
      1/2 cup milk
      4.5 cups water
      1/4 tsp baking soda
      Good luck! May we both be over-run with squash this year!

  2. I accidentally used cayenne pepper instead of chili powder, will that hurt my plants? I don’t want to accidentally burn them with this spray 😦

    • Should be okay – I’ve used cayenne before. If you want to be sure you could dilute it more OR spray it on something you don’t like and wait for a couple of days. 🙂

    • You are welcome. This mixture really helps keep off the bugs. I will say that if left in a hot place to fester the mixture becomes really awful smelling. I still use it, figuring it will keep deer and rabbits away at that point as well 😉

    • And I was too lazy to take a new picture as well… so now you all know that as well! Thanks for stopping by Mrs. Tucker 🙂

  3. We don’t have a bug problem, but a big chipmunk one. So disappointing to have something almost ready to harvest, then find it half eaten on the ground! Last year we started making a similar spray using only hot peppers. Worked like a charm. We were worried that maybe it would make our veggies taste weird, but it had no lasting effect. It does wear off after a few rains, so we would just spray again. After a while the little guys stopped trying. Curious to see if they come back this year. Glad to know we can also use garlic.

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  5. Thanks. I’m going to give this a try. Hate using chemicals….even if I have mice I don’t use poison on them, I trap them. Love using natural stuff, and will check out the site for using neem or neem oil. We have our own neem trees…love neem, too.

    • How wonderful to have your own neem trees! My experience is the natural stuff works just fine, I just have to be a bit more vigilant about using it regularly. Let us know how it goes!

    • I hear ya – what repels the bugs can be repellent to humans as well, right? This spray would really hurt if you got it the eyes, so don’t spray while your little one is outside. Let us know how it goes! Thanks for stopping by and we do actually already share at Wildcrafting Wednesday – but love being invited 😉

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  8. Thanks for the tip,I’ve been looking for a natural way to get rid of bugs:)
    I use cayenne pepper and cinammon essential oil to keep ants away.I will definitely try your magic recipe!!!Thanks for sharing:)

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