Living Like By the Shores of Silver Lake ~ Mosquitoes and Pests

by Merissa on June 16, 2011

in Living Like Little House

When the prairie has enough rain and the spring is damp, the bugs will come. Mosquitoes have been particularly bad this year after all the rain we've gotten. They hover around the puddles that are left and wreck havoc on your ankles if you are out around dusk. The Ingalls had to deal with their share of these pesky bugs too when they started their homestead.

"The days were warm. Mosquitoes came out of the Big Slough at sundown and sang their high, keen song all night as they swarmed around Ellen [the cow], biting her and sucking the blood until she ran around and around on her picket rope. They went into the stable and bit the horses until they pulled at their halters and stamped. They came into the claim shanty and bit everyone there until great blotches raised on faces and hands." By the Shores of Silver Lake p.287

Pa's solution to the mosquitoes problem was to "smudge" them out. He built up small burn areas and smoked them out of the area. He also used something they called a pink bar which they put around the doors and windows to keep the bugs out. They may have even used this Zote Soap for their pink bars. Zote Soap can be used as catfish fishing bait, mosquito repellent, and an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent.

You can also make your own homemade bug spray for mosquitoes and other pests with just a few ingredients:

  • 6 drops peppermint oil
  • 6 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 6 drops tea tree oil

Add as about 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil(almond oil, jojoba, ect) and add to 8 oz of water. Shake well before using. You can also add in a little extra lemongrass and/or lemon oil for extra protection.

Another issue we have in the warmer months is a wasp problem. I really hate spraying chemicals around the house and they always seem to find a way to get in anyways. This year we are trying these wasp traps. You just add a little apple juice in an old plastic container, stick one of the traps in the side and the wasps should go in but be unable to come back out. I'm hoping this works, it seems like such a simple idea!

Do you make homemade bug spray? Does it work for you? Have you used wasp traps before? What about the "pink bar"?

Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica June 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Where can you find Zote in this area? I have checked in a lot of stores and haven’t been able to find any!


2 Merissa June 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I’m not sure, I haven’t seen it anywhere around here yet!


3 Valerie Z June 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I used the wasp traps but with some soda and it worked pretty well. I think that any sugary drink should work though.

I potted some marigolds around the patio and where we sit outside, they seem to repel mosquitos pretty well. There are some other plants that work as well!


4 Merissa June 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Thanks for the tips! I’m glad the hear the wasp traps worked for you, I’m anxious to get them set up. And I love marigolds so I will have to plant some around the deck!


5 Ckay June 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

An FYI if you can grow marigolds in the same spot every year, I don’t remove the plants until later winter or early spring and take the ripe seed heads and work them into the soil. In front of our deck I have the seedlings growing very thick, just self-sowed from last year. So seed didn’t cost me any time or hardly any labor! Ckay


6 Zana K June 17, 2011 at 9:44 am

You could do away with chemicals and use the sansbug pop-up screen tent for relaxing outside.


7 lisalynn May 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I’ve heard Bounce softener sheets repel Mosquitos .. put in your back pocket , with a bit hanging out & or tie one to your arm while gardening.
we made the wasp traps , flies go in & don’t come out 🙂


8 Leslie Rodgers May 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm

“Mosquito bar” was not a pink bar of soap. it was a netting fabric sold by the yard. people tacked it over their windows as a screen to “bar” or prevent bugs from coming into the house.


9 Micheline October 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

The BEST SITE EVER!!! All I need to know about all the thing I love is here! My husband and I will live in a RV next year and we are getting so much information in this website! Thanks a lot Merissa!!


10 Merissa October 31, 2014 at 1:49 pm

No problem Micheline, I’m glad I can help! Good luck with everything!


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