I am always being asked about pest control and how it can be done in a way that is eco-friendly and not harmful to the residents of a home. If you are facing pest problems in your home, there are several natural options for you. If you have a child at home with allergies, please keep in mind that you need to be careful about heeding these suggestions as they may create an allergic reaction.
Pest control is all about preventative maintenance. Keeping your house clean and free of improperly stored food and moisture will assist in keeping pests under control, especially during the hot summer months. Preventing pests such as ants, mosquitoes and cockroaches is fairly simple. Good home maintenance is key. This means placing all sundry food items in the fridge, such as sugar and flour. Garbage should be emptied daily and pet food bowls should be cleaned out each night before bed. Something as simple as using a garbage can with a lid will reduce pests and larvae formations as well. Cleaning up your yard after eating or parties will keep bees and other pesky bugs far away (the sweet smell of old juice or stale beer is very attractive for many of these characters!). Standing water is a sure way to attract mosquitoes. Be sure to clean out stagnant water in bird baths and other containers with a basin or spaces for water to sit.
While pests are sometimes unattractive and scary, I am of the mind that it is better to deter or reroute these fellows from your home as opposed to kill them. There are some terrific natural home remedies that you can employ to do just that. If infestation is inevitable, I do have some suggestions as to how to eliminate them, too.
Ants and other small bugs are easy to keep away and here are a few natural remedies for keeping critters from marching their way through your home. Consider spraying lemon juice, orange oil or vinegar around areas or trails that insects appear. The pungent and acidic properties of these liquids are a major turn off and will keep them far away. One interesting observation about ants is that they strongly dislike powders, so drawing a line with baking soda, chalk or baby powder will absolutely deter them from crossing that line. It is helpful to draw a line going directly along their trail. It sounds odd, but is worth a try!
Cinnamon, cloves or mint are great alternatives to drive these small critters away-they are natural insect repellents. Sprinkle one of these choices around the areas they tend to visit and you should notice a decrease in their appearance quickly. Cinnamon oil and citronella oil are terrific mosquito repellents. In fact, if you add a few drops of one of these essential oils to a spray bottle filled with water and keep it outside, you can mist your way to bliss every hour or so, by spraying your outdoor areas. This is a good thing to do as an alternative to using a bug zapper or citronella candle.
If you do find you have to kill off ants, cockroaches, or other unwelcome visitors in your home, there are a few environmentally friendly ways to do it. Try this simple mixture of household items that will unquestionably do away with bugs. In a jar, add a cup of borax, one quarter cup of crushed dried bay leaves and one quarter cup fresh ground pepper. Crushing and grinding the herbs and spices release their potent powers. Shake the mixture and place a small amount in areas you find the pests, namely corners, cupboards, and drawers. You will have to remove a few dead bugs but that will be the worst of it. Borax is a compound that should not harm other animals or children when used with respect, but it is best to keep both away from the mixture, as borax is still not safe for consumption.
Prevention will be the best way to avoid pests, but if you do find yourself facing a pesky outbreak in your home, there are some non-toxic ways to relieve your home of these unwanted visitors.
Image: Jeremy Yoder