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Natural pest solutions are a non-toxic way to control household insect invaders

Pests are present in every home. They’re in the air, carpet, counter or cupboard.

Plant spray bottle

Natural pest solutions provide a safe method to say goodbye to unwanted creepy crawlers.

Every home shares its resources with these small, often unseen trespassers.

Pesticides are available for most common household insect invaders, but the strong chemical compounds may be more harmful to you, children, pets and the environment than the insects!

The best way to control pests is to not invite them in your home in the first place.

Most insects are attracted to food and water. Keeping the kitchen clean, taking out the trash on a regular basis and storing food and beverages in tight containers will dissuade most bugs and other pests.

Eliminating water sources also goes a long way towards resolving your pest problem, as well as sealing off their entry point.

Explore the natural, safe ways to get household insect pests under control.

The ants go marching on

Keep your counters clean and free of crumbs and sticky areas. Keep sugar and honey jars covered tightly. Wiping down surfaces makes a big difference in keeping invaders out!

  • Cucumber: Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen and ants’ point of entry. Most ants naturally loathe cucumber.
  • Mint: Where ants seem most active, leave a few bags of mint tea nearby.

Blocking the entry

Trace the ant column back to its point of entry. Any of the following items can be set in a small line at the entry area that will keep ants from crossing: coffee grounds, cinnamon, lemon rinds, cayenne pepper and citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string).

Let there be light

Leave a small night light on for several nights in the area where you see the most ant activity. The change in light may disturb and discourage foraging patterns.

Make a moat!

If ants are attracted to your pets’ food bowls, thoroughly clean the floor with hot, soapy water to remove the ants’ trail. Keep them from attacking the food dishes again by placing the bowls into a shallow pan of soapy water.

Let it snow DE

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a talc-like powder composed of the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When it’s sprinkled on an insect, the powder absorbs lipids from the waxy layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate.

Cornmeal snack

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They take it ‘home’ to eat, can’t digest it and expire as a result. This may take about a week.

Bait ’em

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of boric acid and 6 tablespoons of sugar in 2 cups of water.
  • Soak cotton balls in the bait solution.
  • Place one or two cotton balls on an inverted jar lid and saturate with the mixture.
  • Put the jar lids along ant trails.
  • Refill the liquid as it dries until the ants are gone. The goal is to get worker ants to continually carry low doses of boric acid back to feed the ants in their nest.

When the mosquitoes are bitin’

Block them!

Mosquitoes are active in the early morning and early evening. They search for areas of still air because they are hindered by breezes. Close windows and doors on the side of your house which are opposite the breeze.

Goodbye H20

One of the most important steps you can take is to remove standing water sources. Change birdbaths, wading pools and pet’s water bowls at least twice per week. Eliminate yard items that collect water. Keep the house gutters clean and draining freely.

On the BBQ

Toss a bit of sage and rosemary on the coals to deter those blood suckers!
Garlic is an efficient natural bug repellent:

  • Mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in small spray water.
  • Shake well and spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent lasting 5-6 hours.
  • Strips of cotton cloth may also be dipped in solution and hung in areas, like patios, as a localized deterrent.

Go batty

Build a bat house! Some bat species can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour. These beneficial bug munchers can be attracted by setting up a bat house in your yard.

Neem oil

Neem oil is a natural vegetable oil extracted from India’s Neem tree. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the tree contain sallanin, a compound which is efficient in deterring mosquitoes. Neem oil is a natural product and safe to use. Add a few drops of oil to lotion and apply the mixture to your body.

The more flowers the merrier

Consider planting some catnip (Nepeta cataria) in your garden. Not only does it deter mosquitoes, but you’ll get gorgeous flowers, too! Other mosquito-repelling plants include rosemary, marigolds, citronella and lemon balm.

Make your own repellent

Use an essential oil and something to mix it with like olive oil, vodka, or witch hazel. For best results, combine a few essential oils like lemon eucalyptus, citronella, cinnamon, cedar wood and juniper.

Keep covered

To avoid those annoying mosquito bites, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, a hat or scarf. Use window and door screens and put mosquito netting over strollers.

Drink up, bug-off

Drink a tablespoon or two of organic apple cider vinegar and eat lots of garlic. A daily dose of Vitamin B1 is also supposed to repel those blood-suckers.

Fly away you flies

Herbal sachets

Use small squares of cheesecloth to make sachets filled with crush mint, bay leaf, clove or eucalyptus around the house to repel flies.

Fly paper by you

  • Mix ¼ cup of corn syrup, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in a small bowl.
  • Cut strips of brown draft paper, soak in the sugar mix.
  • Let the strips dry overnight.
  • To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with a string.

Sweet basil: Plant sweet basil next to doors, or in containers. Flies won’t go near it! Cut a large bunch of it for when you go on picnics. As an extra benefit, mosquitoes hate it too.

Eucalyptus oil: Apply eucalyptus oil to a small cloth or rag and leave it an area concentrated with flies – they won’t stay long.

Sneaky Spiders

Spiders are not fans of peppermint!

Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil into a small spray bottle. Add a tad of liquid detergent and fill the bottle with water. Spray the solution on cobwebs, around doors and windows, around the lawn and garden in addition to any surfaces where spiders hide. The mixture has a pleasant aroma and is safe to use around pets and kids.

Vinegar and a little coconut oil

Combining coconut oil and white vinegar makes an efficient spray for urging spiders to stay away. Test the mixture on a small, hidden area of carpet or curtains to make sure it does not stain or cause spots.

Essential citrus oils

Did you know spiders taste through their feet? In addition to their aversion to peppermint; they despise the taste of citrus which includes lemon, lime and orange. It will not kill spiders; they will simply avoid places where these citrus oils can be detected.

Hide and seek no more

Spiders love to hide in dark, cluttered places. Keep stacks of debris, woodpiles and thick plant growth away from the sides of your home. The fewer hiding places spiders can access, the more effectively they can be deterred.

Seal it

Make sure you seal up cracks in the foundation of your home and close gaps in windows or beneath doorways to deny spiders an entry point.

All purpose bug spray

  • 8 oz apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or vodka
  • 45 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 15 drops Lemon or Wild Orange Essential Oil
  • Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and apply liberally. Store in the fridge when you aren’t using it. The spray should last 2-3 months

Dust mites aren’t alright!

Those microscopic mites are everywhere in our homes: beds, clothing, furniture, bookshelves and stuffed animals. If you have allergies or asthma, you already know what a pain these creepy crawlers are.

To reduce the dust mite population in your abode:

  • Vacuum mattresses and pillows. If you’re sensitive to dust mite allergens, dust mite bedding can be purchased available with zippered, allergen-impermeable encasings designed to block dust mites.
  • Wash your bedding at 55 degrees or higher. Detergents and laundry products have no effect on mites unless the temperature is high.
  • If you or family members suffer from allergies, keep books, stuffed animals, throw rugs and laundry hampers out of these rooms.
  • Tannic acid, which can be found at health food stores and pet centers, neutralizes the allergens in dust mites and animal dander. It’s available in powdered form.
  • Cover your mattress and pillows with laminated covers to prevent penetration by dust mites. Don’t use fabric-covered headboards.
  • Heating ducts can be covered with a filter which can trap tiny dust particles smaller than 10 microns
  • Avoid using humidifiers; dust mites are drawn to warmth and humidity.

Roaches are creepy crawlers

A clean, tidy kitchen and bathroom is your best defense against roaches. If roaches are an issue in your home, vacuum well and wash the affected areas with strong soap. Discard the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed container.

  • DE can be sprinkled in areas where roaches congregate, especially hidden areas like cabinet tops and behind appliances. DE is harmless to people and cuts through the waxy exoskeleton of the bug, dehydrating it. For a week or so, the insects will actively search for water. Most roaches are killed within two weeks of application
  • Cockroaches are naturally adverse to catnip. Small sachets of catnip can be left where cockroaches gather. You can also simmer it in a small amount of water to make “catnip tea” which can be used to spray baseboards and behind counters. Don’t spray this in a home with cats!
  • Have a spray bottle of soapy water on hand. Spraying roaches directly with soapy water kills them.
  • Many people don’t know roaches like high places. If you put boric acid on top of your kitchen cabinets (not inside), if space allows between ceiling and cabinets, the roaches will take the boric acid to their nests, killing most of them. Boric acid is toxic by mouth and should be kept away from kids and pets.
  • Bay leaves, cucumber slices and garlic are natural deterrents and can be left in affected areas.

Fleas are not friends

Fleas can gain entry to your residence via your pet or visitors’ pets. For every one flee on your furry friend, there may be as many as 30 in the pet’s environment.

  • Bathe and comb your pet regularly. Use mild soap instead of insecticides. If fleas are found on the comb, dip in a glass of soapy water.
  • Fleas are not fans of citrus. Pour a cup of boiling water over a sliced lemon. Include the lemon skin to release more oil. Let the mixture soak overnight and sponge it on your dog to kill flees right away. Don’t use citrus oil on cats.
  • You may wish to add brewer’s yeast or apple cider vinegar to your pet’s food.
  • Cedar oil, shampoo, and cedar-filled sleeping mats are available commercially and repel fleas.
  • Do you have fleas in the carpet? If so, thoroughly vacuum, especially in low traffic areas, under furniture, etc. Place flea powder in the vacuum cleaner bag to kill any fleas and put the bag in an outside garbage bin.
  • You can trap fleas in your home using a wide, shallow pan filled halfway with soapy water. Place it on the floor and shine a lamp over the water. Fleas will jump into the heat of the lamp and land in the water. The detergent breaks surface tension, stopping the flea from bouncing out.
  • In your garden or yard, fleabane can be planted to repel the little suckers. This is an annual growing about two feet tall with violet, daisy like flowers.
  • For long-term, non-toxic control of fleas, sprinkle DE where fleas may occur. Some can be rubbed into the fur of your cat or dog.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite

The best defense against these creepy crawlers is prevention. You can easily achieve this goal in rooms that haven’t been affected yet. If there is a presence of bed bugs, then a thorough cleaning and vacuuming is required, followed by cautionary measures.

  • Non-toxic bed bug traps use heat, CO2 and a pheromone to attract bed bugs to a glue surface.
  • The best preventative measure against these invaders is to apply non-toxic DE in the area. Use food-grade DE, not pool grade.
  • Wash bedding in water that’s 120 degrees or hotter to kill these pests.
  • The most likely hiding spots for bed bugs are small cracks and crevices close to where you sleep. The mattress and box spring should be lifted from the frame, and after vacuuming, sprinkle DE along the edges of the frame which holds the box spring.
  • Personal items like blankets and stuffed animals should be vacuumed, washed in hot water, and placed in plastic bags for several weeks.

Natural pest solutions are an efficient, economical and safe way to say farewell to uninvited creepy crawlers.

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