Natural Pest Control
Protect Your Home from Pests
With cooler weather around the corner, it won't be long before insects and rodents will be looking for a warm place to call home. If you're like millions of homeowners, armies of ants, spiders and furry little things will soon invade your home. What can you do? Plenty. Here are some tips and recipes to keep pests at bay naturally and effectively.
The first and easiest thing to do is to conduct a thorough home inspection
Check weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows for cracks and gaps. It doesn't take much for insects or rodents to squeeze through.
Check that screens are tight fitting and free from holes and tears.
Check baseboards. If there are gaps, use a water-based caulk to seal. You'll keep more heat in as an added benefit.
Check the flaps on pet doors. While these aren't completely air tight, they should fit snug to avoid being an open invitation to bugs and rodents.
In the event that you have an invasion despite your best efforts, here are a few natural pest control products that you can easily make at home. They're safer than toxic chemicals, easy and inexpensive. Please note: even though these recipes are considered natural, it's best to keep them out of the reach of pets and children.
Boric Acid Ant Traps
(while safer than chemical sprays, this recipe should be kept out of the reach of children and pets as boric acid can be toxic if ingested)
1 tsp Boric Acid
6 Tbsp sugar
Plastic margarine or batter container with lid
Dissolve both boric acid and sugar in 2 cups of water. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place in plastic container. Poke holes in the lid. Place on counters or in corners where ants are a problem. They will enter the container, feast on the boric acid solution and take back to the nest where they will share with their friends. Change solution once a week. After a few weeks once the worker ants have slowed down, dilute the solution by half for long-term ant control.
Ants use each other to find their way. If you see a trail, wipe up immediately with soap and water. Ants get confused and tend to give up and find an alternative food source.
Ants hate mint. Grow a peppermint plant in an herb pot in your kitchen window. Or even easier, simply put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and put at the place of ant entry. They'll be leaving in no time. This method works well, but the cotton balls need to be freshened every day or so for maximum impact.
Mothballs contain the chemical paradichlorobenzene, a volatile chemical that causes symptoms such as nausea, headache, swollen eyes, irritation to eyes, nose and throat, and lungs, as well as depression. An interesting note is that the label says to avoid inhalation of vapors. Isn't that a little difficult if they are placed in closets as many folks do? Mothballs are very harmful if swallowed. With all of this in mind, a natural alternative seems, well, natural.
In a muslin bag (or you can use an old sock), place dried lavender, cedar chips, or dried orange peel. Tie with a string and either hang in a closet or place within a drawer or chest. It not only keeps the bugs at bay, but you're clothes will smell fresh too.
Believe it or not, the Center for Disease Control does not consider cockroaches a health hazard. However, most people find them disgusting and a nuisance. While this won't cure an infestation, it works best when the first signs of these buggers appear.
Take a quart size jar (spaghetti sauce size works well) and rub the inside rim with grease to make slippery. Set a chunk of banana in the bottom as bait. Fill about a third of the way with beer. Tape a popsicle stick (or tongue depressor) against the outside of the jar to create a ladder to the top. Cockroaches and silverfish will happily make the one-way into the jar and drown in the beer suds.
Rats and Mice
Of course, the best way to keep rats and mice out are to make sure that all holes in exterior and interior walls are sealed. Keep all food (including pet food) in sealed containers. Loose bits of dog or cat food (or bowls left in the garage or on the kitchen floor) are rodent magnets. If you still can't get rid of them, here are a few tips:
Try a live trap. You can purchase them at many hardware or feed stores. You catch and release far, far away (otherwise, they'll miss you and come back). This, of course, also presents an excellent opportunity to send them to the house of someone who's done you wrong.
Try placing bundles of lavender and or mint about. Rodents dislike both herbs immensely.
If other methods fail, try a Vitamin D trap.
According to Debra Lynn Dadd, both rats and mice cannot tolerate Vitamin D as it disrupts their calcium metabolism. To make the bait, simply crush a Vitamin D tablet and blend it with peanut butter or cheese (we've found rats to prefer peanut butter) and place it in an area frequented by rodents. It's important to remember that rats and mice don't cross into open areas unless necessary. They prefer to keep close to walls so that's a good place to set your bait. Rodents will die within 2 days of ingesting the bait. As with any bait, use caution and keep out of the reach of children and/or pets.
As with any natural method, some will work for you and some won't. We've found that those who try several methods usually find one or two that work effectively. Hopefully, the pests will ultimately give up and move on to more welcoming surroundings.