Home ownership comes with joys and challenges—celebrating birthdays and graduations, for example, while a pile of ants blanket the cake and mice nibble through the wires to the stereo system.
If you're getting desperate to drive your home pests away, here are some crazy approaches you may have never considered.
1. Use Food as Bait
Pretty much every pest advice column will tell you to keep garbage picked up and food put away. While that’s true, strategically placing enticing food far away from the house will draw rodents in the opposite direction. It may seem counterintuitive to feed the little monsters, but a happy mouse down the hill equals a happy house with a mouse-free kitchen.
2. Build Bats a Home
The same principle applies to creating housing for bats. Would you rather have them living in your attic. An easy to build bat house can give them a less damaging spot to take up residence.
If having bats for neighbors still sounds less than appealing, keep in mind that they're voracious consumers of mosquitos. At the end of the day, which would you rather have around?
3. Spray Foam, Steel Wool, or Copper Mesh
Mice can enter spaces in your home as small as a pencil eraser, so scrutinize your perimeter and block any potential entrance with copper mesh or steel wool. Then reinforce it with a blast of spray insulation foam. When we say any hole, we mean literally any space you can see light enter—even that tiny gap beneath the garage door or space around plumbing pipes.
4. Plant Venus Fly Traps
Yes, it’s a real thing and yes, it really eats bugs. Besides, you’d be hard pressed to find a better conversation starter. Plant your Venus Fly Trap in a bright, sunny windowsill and watch your leafy carnivore go to work.
5. Dehumidify to Keep Spiders Away
There’s a reason the eight-legged crawlers love to hang out in the basement or under the house, and that reason is moisture. Create a less inviting atmosphere by keeping humidity low with the use of a dehumidifier or moisture absorbing product such as Dri-Z-Air.
6. Provide Coffee, Herbs, and Vinegar
If you have a determined mouse or mosquito, it will pretty much plow through any obstacle, but foods with strong scents can work as a deterrent. Sprinkle coffee grounds in problem areas, annoy fruit flies with apple cider vinegar mixed with a bit of dish soap, litter cloves inside drawers, put a lavender sachet beneath your pillow, and dust around your garden plants with chili powder or cayenne pepper.
7. Provide a Sweet Surprise
Sugar ants acquired the name for a reason—namely their propensity to be drawn towards sugar. So entice them with a combination of powdered sugar and a surprise dose of Borax.
8. Go Bananas
If aphids are an issue, invite a few friends to the party by introducing ladybugs that may look pretty, but will actually eat the aphids. As a backup, bury banana peels in the soil beneath the plants to deter aphids from getting too homey on your leaves.
9. Trim Rodents Out
Rodents are innovative in their tactics to gain access to your home. Scurrying up a bush and out a branch is child’s play for the agile critters, so block direct access by keeping your shrubs and trees cut back away from the house. Although this isn’t failproof, it's a regular maintenance step that can deter problem pests.
10. Plant Strong Smelling Plants
If cute little rabbits are the pests in question, give them some colorful and fragrant marigolds as a gift and they might move on to someone else’s garden. Some gardeners prefer onions, garlic, or spicy basil as deterrents for leaf nibbling critters. The key is powerful scents and tastes that punish curious chewers.
Plant these defensive additions around the edges of your garden to protect the more vulnerable targets in the middle.
11. Move your Wood Pile
Your kids might think you’re imposing random chores by making them move the wood pile from against the house to another area, but rodents and bugs love to live in wood, so having a pile next to your home is an invitation into the warmer climates inside your house.
12. Add a Chimney Cap
The problem might start higher up than you think if pests can gain access through your chimney—especially during the months that the fire is out. Adding a chimney cap revokes the invitation to enjoy a fire inside your home.
13. Get a cat
Sure cats make nice pets, but there’s no denying they are also innate hunters. Adopt a cat and give it free reign for an automatic response to rodents, birds, and snakes encroaching on the house.
14. Give Wasps a Bath
It may end up being a temporary solution to drive away wasps, but spraying the hive with a mixture of dish soap and water will likely choke them out. Apply the mixture in the evening when they're least active and be sure the hive is dormant before knocking it down.
15. Serve Beer to Slugs
Slugs are the gardener’s nemesis, sneaking in during the night to snack on the most luscious strawberries and prime lettuce leaves. Give slugs an offer they can’t refuse with a drink in a short can or Solo cup cut to half height. Place beer in the bottom where the slugs will get in but can’t get back out.