The Low Down On Green Living
October 9th, 2007
There really are safe ways to rid your house of common pests like roaches, ants, fleas, even termites, without the use of pesticides that can be harmful to your health and to the environment. Here are some natural, non-toxic ways to control these unwanted guests when they wear out their welcome!
Roaches are just the worst. How many of us have nearly had a heart attack coming across a 7-foot-long roach in the kitchen some night? ACK. Roaches need food and hiding spaces to thrive– and that’s where we can start to be rid of them. And there are some good non-toxic repellents you can use as well.
- – Keep your food well sealed, keep your garbage pail or bag impenetrable, and keep your countertops clean. You should also store your sugar, flour, cereal, and pasta in tightly covered containers.
- – As for hiding places, make sure you do minor home repairs like filling in cracks with caulk, sealing openings around pipes, and fixing leaks. Also keep your drains clean.
- – Vacuum your home well and often. Sponge mopping floors also helps keep roaches away.
- – Roaches can also be killed using boric acid. Boric acid is a natural product, but it is toxic by mouth to children and pets, so you need to put it in out-of-the-way places like the tops of your kitchen cabinets and underneath the sink in the cabinet. The roaches will carry the acid to their nests and it will kill the lot of them.
- – Did you know that roaches hate catnip? Catnip is not toxic to humans, but if you leave it in the area where cockroaches show up in your house, they will run away. (Of course your cats may come it nuzzle it, but that’s not the issue.)
- – Spraying roaches with soapy water will kill them, so try keeping a spray bottle around for sneak attacks.
- – Non-toxic roach traps are also commercially available.
Ants in Your Pants?
It’s no secret that ants are attracted to crumbs and debris on countertops, so keeping your counters clean is your first way to keep ants at bay. Wipe up sticky spots and cover any bottles or dishes that have food debris on them. Then follow these steps to further deter the creepy little critters.
- – Like roaches, ants don’t like soapy water. Keep a small spray bottle handy and spray the ants when you find them.
- – Boric acid is also good for getting rid of ants. One blogger recommends this mixture to rid your house of ants: 1 cup of warm water with 1/2 cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of boric acid. Then you soak the boric acid up with cotton balls and place those cotton balls near any trails the ants have estabilished in your home.
- – Ants also apparently do not like cucumber. Place cucumber slices or peel in the kitchen or at the ants’ point of entry.
- – Ants are also deterred by mint and cloves. You can leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants are most active.
- – Block the invasion at the source. Trace the ant line back to where they come into your home, and set any of the following items there, which ants will not cross: baby powder, cayenne pepper, citrus oil, lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds. Heck, mix them all together and you’ve got a powerful anti-ant cocktail!
No More Fleas Please
Fleas can be the scourge of both human and animal alike. Some natural options do work, but they require a bit more work and maintenance than slapping some Frontline or Advantage on the pooch or kitty (but they’ll certainly thank you for the effort!). Here are several tips that can be used to kill the fleas outright - some of them are similar to tips we’ve already mentioned above.
- – Boric acid-based products. This substance works by sticking to the fleas and then killing them when they clean themselves. These products are generally sprinkled on flooring or furniture and then vacuumed. The particles are so fine that much of it stays adhered to the carpeting or upholstry fibers after vacuuming - safe for pets but bad news for fleas! Wear a mask, though - those small particles can be a problem if you breathe in too many during application.
- – Diatomaceous earth. Dirt in my house you say? No … diatomaceous earth is actually the fossilized remains of diatoms, the microscopic hard-shelled algae that fill our oceans and lakes. It is generally found as a sedimentary rock that is ground up into a fine powder. Why is it bad for fleas? Well, those old diatoms had very sharp little shells - so sharp that, when ingested, they puncture the innards of our flea tormentors. Or, the DE particles stick to flea outer shells and puncture them instead, resulting in termination by dehydration. Not pleasant to think about, but much better than the agony of our furry friends! Application is very similar to that of boric acid above.
- – Nontoxic flea traps are available commercially.
- – Flea control nematodes can be used in outdoor areas.
These approaches will reduce the flea populations, but you’ll still have to practice good household and animal hygiene. Make sure to vacuum and wash all bedding and linens - that will get rid of the eggs and larvae. Also, give your pet a 5-10 minute bath. Even relatively mild soaps will get rid of most fleas, but don’t do this too often as your pet will begin to scratch from dryness, not fleas! In a bit of time, natural products + good hygiene will rid your house of these alwful critters.
We hope this list will get you started on the road to a healthy, pest-free home! (We will cover termites in a separate post.) If you have any tips that have worked for you, please add them to the comments section.
Popularity: 3% [?]