There’s nothing worse than pesky bugs and other pests buzzing and crawling around while you’re enjoying your swimming pool. They’re generally not pleasant to look at, and some, like Backswimmers and wasps, even bite and sting. Obviously, you’d probably prefer to avoid them. We’ve talked about how to get rid of water bugs from your pool before, but now we’re going to skip the harsh chemicals and explore more natural and environmentally-friendly alternatives for dealing with insects and pests around your pool and patio.

Essential oils

Essential oils can be an effective bug repellent.

People are finding all sorts of uses for essential oils — including as bug repellant. If you’re not familiar, essential oils are natural oils obtained from plants and other sources, so they smell great and they’re environmentally-friendly.

Oil users say that some of the best options for keeping bugs in check around your patio and pool are as follows:

  • Cinnamon essential oils for ants and earwigs.
  • Peppermint essential oils for spiders, mosquitos, and cockroaches.
  • Vanilla and tea tree essential oils for centipedes.
  • Lemongrass essential oils for flies.

Generally, you’ll want to mix these essential oils with water and carrier oils (like coconut oil) and spray it around your home and patio or use an oil diffuser set on your picnic or patio table. Be sure to follow all instructions before using. We do not recommend putting essential oils directly in your swimming pool.


Smoke is a natural bug repellent. With that in mind, candles, firepits, and tiki torches are great options for helping to deter insects, like mosquitos and spiders, around your patio.

While smoke in and of itself is effective, outdoor enthusiasts have noted there are some things you can add to your fire to improve effectiveness as an insect repellent, including:

  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Mint leaves
  • Lavender
  • Cedar tree bark
  • Catnip
  • Citronella leaves

Others have suggested that rubbing the herbs mentioned above along your patio furniture can also produce a similar effect. Be sure to do a test run on your furniture in a spot that’s easy to hide in case of discoloration.

Use a fan.

Ever notice that there are fewer bugs around on a windy day or when there’s a nice breeze going? That’s because they don’t like that they can’t fly or move around efficiently when it’s windy. You can recreate that same effect by hooking up a fan or two outside. It’s best to set it up near the area you’re sitting or near the door to prevent bugs from finding their way in the house as you go in or out.

Garlic and onions

Bugs don’t like the odor from garlic.

It seems that many kinds of bugs aren’t fond of the smell of garlic and onions! Deter bugs naturally by using these items in your cooking when you’re going to be outdoors. Not only will it add flavor to your food, but the smell wafting from your food (and released in your sweat afterward) will help deter bugs and prevent them from biting you.

In addition, other experts have suggested chopping the garlic and onions and leaving them in a bowl of water on your picnic table as a natural insect deterrent. If you swish the water around every so often, it helps waft the odor into the air and keeps bugs away.

Bird feeders.

Hanging bird feeders can attract bug-eating birds

Not only are they pretty and fun to watch, but many birds eat bugs. Hanging up bird feeders around your yard to attract our feathered friends will naturally help reduce the creepy crawly creatures around your yard. Here are a few common birds and a few of the bugs they’ve been known to eat:

  • Bluebirds eat beetles, moths, and crickets.
  • Cardinals eat beetles, stink bugs, grasshoppers, and snails
  • Nuthatches eat ants and earwigs.
  • Orioles eat beetles and grasshoppers.

Keep your pool and patio area clean.

This one is pretty basic, but it needs to be said. Bugs, of course, are attracted to food. Make sure you clean up thoroughly after poolside picnics and barbeques — and don’t leave garbage of leftovers sitting around for too long. Also, make sure you’re cleaning your pool regularly with a vacuum or robotic pool cleaner to avoid build-up of algae and microorganisms that water bugs like Water Boatmen feed on.  

We also recommend you cover your pool and patio equipment when not in use. Investing in a swimming pool cover will help prevent insects and other pests from making your pool water or patio chairs their temporary home. Plus, it’s easy to quickly remove and wash a cover as needed.

Browse our pool covers and vacuums to help keep pests out of your pool


Natural Ways to Keep Pests Away From Your Pool