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Flies

 

  • Use mint as a fly repellent. Small sachets of crushed mint can be placed around the home to discourage flies.
  • Bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus wrapped in small cheesecloth squares can be
    hung by open windows or doors.

 

  • Place a small, open container of sweet basil and clover near pet food or any open food in the house.
  • A few drops of eucalyptus oil on a scrap of absorbant cloth will deter flies. Leave in areas where flies are a problem.

  • You can make your own flypaper with this simple recipe: Mix 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tbsp. granulated sugar and 1 tbsp.

    brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut strips of brown kraft paper and soak in this mixture. Let dry overnight. To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with string or thread. 

  • Safe, nontoxic, pheromone-based outdoor and indoor fly traps are available.
  • For outdoor fly infestations, the best trap you can use is the Flies Be Gone trap, now available in our online store.

 

 

Mosquitos

The first line of defense against mosquitos is to seal their point of entry. Mosquitos are most active in the early morning and early evening. They seek areas of still air because they are hampered by breezes. Close windows and doors on the side of your house which are opposite the breeze. Then try:

 

  • The most important measure you can take is to remove standing water sources. Change birdbaths, wading pools and pet’s water bowl twice a week. Keep your eaves-troughs clean and well-draining. Remove yard items that collect water.

  • Campers often report that the very best mosquito repellent is Herbal Armor, a nontoxic DEET-free repellent which is also recommended by National Geographic. For small areas such as decks or patios, citronella beeswax and soy candles can be effective. These candles are most effective when placed low to the floor of the deck and in areas where there is little breeze.
  • If you’re using the barbeque, throw a bit of sage or rosemary on the coals to repel mosquitos. 
  • An effective natural bug repellent, mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent lasting up to 5 – 6 hours. Strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in this mixture and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent. Commercially available garlic based, all natural mosquito repellent and larvae killer will repel mosquitoes up to 4 weeks
  • Neem oil is a natural vegetable oil extracted from the Neem tree in India. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the Neem tree contain sallanin, a compound which has effective mosquito repelling properties. Neem oil is a natural product and is safe to use. 
  • Planting marigolds around your yard works as a natural bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects do not like. 
  • Safe, nontoxic pheromone-based mosquito traps are now commercially available.
  • For outdoor mosquito control, bat houses are effective. Some bat species can eat 500 – 1000 mosquitoes each per might.
  • If you’re stung, Ditch the Itch is a nontoxic cream which takes the itch out of bites.

 

Fleas

Fleas usually gain entry to your home through your pet or visitors’ pets. For every flea on your pet, there may be as many as 30 more in the pet’s environment.
Before reaching for pesticides, try these safer choices:

 

  • Bathe and comb your pet regularly. Use mild soap, not insecticides. If fleas are found on the comb, dip the comb in a glass of soapy water.
  • Citrus is a natural flea deterrent. Pour a cup of boiling water over a sliced lemon. Include the lemon skin, scored to release more citrus oil. Let this mixture soak overnight, and sponge on your dog to kill fleas instantly. Do not use citrus oil on cats.
  • Add brewer’s yeast and garlic, or apple cider vinegar, to your pets’ food. However, it is not advisable to use raw garlic as a food supplement for cats. 
  • Cedar shampoo, cedar oil and cedar-filled sleeping mats are commercially available. Cedar repels many insects including fleas. 
  • Fleas in the carpet? The carpet should be thoroughly vacuumed especially in low traffic areas, under furniture, etc. Put flea powder in the vacuum cleaner bag to kill any fleas that you vacuum up, and put the bag in an outdoor garbage bin. 
  • Trap fleas in your home using a wide, shallow pan half-filled with soapy water. Place it on the floor and shine a lamp over the water. Fleas will jump to the heat of the lamp and land in the water. The detergent breaks the surface tension, preventing the flea from bouncing out.
  • In the yard or garden, plant fleabane (Fleabane Daisy Erigeron speciosus) to repel fleas. This is an annual growing 16-24″ tall with violet, daisy like flowers.
  • Nontoxic flea traps are available commercially. These traps are inexpensive and very effective.
  • For long-term nontoxic control of fleas, sprinkle diatomaceous earth where fleas may occur. You can also rub diatomaceous earth into the fur of your cat or dog.
  • For more information, read our article: Natural Flea Control

 

Dust Mites

Microscopic dust mites are everywhere in the home – in our beds, clothing, furniture, book shelves and stuffed animals. For people with allergies or asthma, dust mites are a problem.

Here’s how to reduce the dust mite population in your home:

 

  • Vacuum mattresses and pillows. For people with sensitivities to dust mite allergens, dust mite bedding is available with zippered, allergen-impermeable encasings designed to block dust mites. 
  • Wash bedding at 55 degrees Celsius (130F) or higher. Detergents and commercial laundry products have no effect on mites unless the water temperature is high.
  • Keep books, stuffed animals, throw rugs and laundry hampers out of the bedroom of allergy sufferers. Wash stuffed animals occasionally in hot water.
  • Tannic acid neutralizes the allergens in dust mite and animal dander. Dust problem areas with tannic acid powder, available at health food stores and pet centers.
  • Cover mattress and pillows with laminated covers which prevent penetration by dust mites. Avoid fabric-covered headboards.
  • Cover heating ducts with a filter which can trap tiny dust particles smaller than 10 microns.
  • Avoid using humidifiers. Dust mites thrive on warmth and humidity.

 

Natural Insect Pest Control

Insect pests are an intimate part of every home.

In the air, carpet, counter or cupboard, every home shares it’s resources with these tiny, often unseen invaders. Pesticides are available for most common household insect pests, but these potent chemical compounds may be more harmful to you and the environment than the pests.

Here are some natural, non-toxic ways to control household insect pests.

 

Ants

The first line of defense is to remove the attractants: keep counters free of crumbs and sticky spots. Cover the sugar and put the honey jar in a plastic baggie. Cut off water sources such as drips or dishes left soaking overnight. 

If the ant invaders persist, try these simple measures:

  • Keep a small spray bottle handy, and spray the ants with a bit of soapy water.
  • Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants’ point of entry. Many ants have a natural aversion to cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.
  • Leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active. Dry, crushed mint leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.
  • Trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.
  • Mix one liter of water, one teaspoon of Borax and a cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them in a small yogurt container with holes punched in the lids to allow ants access. Place container in a location where ants are present. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies where it will eventually kill the colony. Important: use indoors only; must be kept away from pets and children.

  • Leave a small, low wattage night light on for a few nights in the area of most ant activity. The change in light can disrupt and discourage their foraging patterns.
  • Ants on the deck? Slip a few cut up cloves of garlic between the cracks.
  • For long-term nontoxic control of ants, sprinkle diatomaceous earth where ants congregate.

 

Pest-Control Tips 2

Every home-dweller has to eventually contend with pests such as insects, raccoons, and rodents. But don’t fret: There are time-proven ways to deter and eradicate these little beasts. We’ve collected some here:

Insects

  • Keep ants away from your home with a concoction of borax and sugar. Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar’s lid, and sprinkle the mixture outdoors around the foundation of your home and around the baseboards inside your house. The ants are attracted by the sugar and poisoned by the borax.
  • If you have cockroaches, sprinkle borax powder in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Avoid sprinkling where children and pets could be affected.
  • If there’s a hornet, wasp, bee or other flying insect in your house and you have no insect spray, kill it with hair spray.
  • If your home becomes infested with fleas, vacuum rugs thoroughly before spraying, and throw the dust bag out at once.
  • Change the water in a birdbath every 3 days to help reduce the mosquito population.
  • The presence of carpenter ants indicates another problem. Because they’re fond of damp wood, you should check your pipes, roof and windowsills for water leaks.
  • Centipedes prey on other bugs, so the presence of centipedes in your house may indicate the presence of other insects as well.
  • You can distinguish termite damage from other insect damage by examining any holes you find in wood. Termites usually eat only the soft part of wood, leaving the annual rings intact.
  • If you live in a multiunit building, any pest control measures you take individually will be ineffective in the long run simply because insects can travel form one apartment to another. To eliminate bugs completely, the entire building should be treated at one time.

Raccoons and Rodents

  • Raw bacon or peanut butter makes good bait for a mousetrap. Make sure a mouse will have to tug the trap to remove the bait. If you’re using peanut butter, dab some on the triggering device and let it harden before setting the trap. If bacon is your bait, tie it around the triggering device.
  • If a raccoon sets up housekeeping in your attic or chimney, chemical repellants — such as oil of mustard — are temporarily effective. (The smell may bother you as much as it does the raccoon.) Your best bet is to let the animal leave, and then cover its entrance hole with wire mesh so that it cannot return.
  • To keep rodents out of your house, seal every opening they could squeeze through. Some need less than 1/4 inch of space. Put poison in deep cracks or holes, and stuff them with steel wool or scouring pads pushed in with a screwdriver. Close the spaces with spackling compound mixed with steel wool fragments.

Tips for Pest Control

How can you safely solve your pest problems? The key is to be willing to ask questions. Learning about the pest you have and options that are available to control specific pests is the first step. In most cases, there are several things you should do before even thinking about chemical pest control. Pests need food, water, and shelter. Often, the problem may be solved just by removing these key items. Reducing or preventing pest invasions often starts with the following:

  • Fixing leaky plumbing and look for other sources of water, such as trays under house plants.
  • Making sure food and food scraps are tightly sealed and garbage is regularly removed from the home.
  • Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight. Also, if you apply pesticides, pet food and water should be removed from the area.
  • Closing off entryways and hiding places (caulking cracks and crevices around cabinets or baseboards, for example).

In addition, keep pets and children away from areas where pesticides have been applied.

Once these and other preventive steps are completed, traps or bait stations can be used against some pests. These are often effective and can be used with low risk of exposure to the pesticide, as long as they are kept out of the reach of children and pets. Other relatively low-risk pesticides are available for some pests. Consult your local cooperative extension service office for recommendations suitable for your area. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Web site can help you identify your local extension service office.