Ants, bats, bed bugs, birds, fleas, rodents, spiders, squirrels and wasps, oh my! Getting rid of pesky pests can be annoying and difficult, however, most kinds of common pest control are poisonous and end up in your garden, rainwater systems, and even in the air you breathe. Here are some tips on how to use organic pest control to keep you and your family safe, while keeping any unwanted species away!
Look for traps that prevent or control pests without using poison or killing methods. Organic food stores may be the best sources for eco-friendly options, but big box stores also sell environmentally-friendly traps. Organic mosquito dunks are non-toxic donut-shaped biological pesticides that specifically target mosquito larvae living in water. They are safe for humans and wildlife, and will not harm the environment.
Hanging plastic insect traps are a non-toxic way to control, rather than poison or kill off, unwanted bugs. They use visually attractive colors and shapes, pheromones (sexual lures), and/or food sources to attract bugs to them. You can make your own by poking holes into bottles covered in plastic wrap and filled with a food source. Fruit flies will be attracted to vinegar-y substances. Wasps like sugary concoctions, and mosquitos will be drawn to sugar-y yeast water.
This naturally occurring sedimentary rock is ground up fossilized algae made into fine powder and will work on just about any insect with an exoskeleton. It can be used inside or outside the home and works by sticking to insect bodies and drying them up. Simply sprinkle some of the powder onto plants, garden beds, on garage floors and other outdoor areas where crunchy bugs like to hang out. For inside use, scatter diatomaceous earth into carpets, couches, and beds. They will kill fleas and bed bugs, but are safe for animal and human contact. Look for the food grade option which is the best variety to use to eradicate stubborn infestations such as carpenter ants, which will ingest the powder and die quickly.
Did you know spiders dislike the scent of citrus? Or that flies hate the smell of basil? Pests will avoid certain smells, so utilize essential oils, herbs, and plants from organic suppliers for a pleasant and healthy way to keep them under control. Popular insect-repellent oils are lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, and vanilla extract. Lemon eucalyptus is thought to be just as effective as DEET at combatting mosquitos, as well as wasps. Mix the oils with water and keep a spray bottle handy or place small bowls on decks, patio tables, and inside the house. Herbs that give off a bug-repelling scent include basil, catnip, mint and bay leaves. Keep living varieties of these herbs in the kitchen or around windows and doors. Plant lemongrass in gardens along with onions and garlic to fend off mosquitos. Cayenne and chili powder deters a variety of rodents and bugs from crossing into a space. Squirrels hate the smell of geraniums and marigolds, while rodents are actually allergic to peppermint.
DIY Household Cleaners
Vinegar is an amazing product and something every homeowner should have around. Not only is it a powerful disinfectant, but it will stop ants from marching through your home. Spray a solution of half water, half vinegar into cracks and crevices leading to the exterior or around baseboards and windows, and make sure to mop your floors with the mixture. The smell will erase the ant “trail” and prevent them from returning. (Add a favorite essential oil into the mix for extra strength in freshening up your home.) Clean window surfaces with vinegar or lemon water as an extra measure to repel spiders, ants, and other bugs from entering.
Animals / Other Bugs
Sometimes using the natural world to your advantage can work wonders at keeping pests at bay. Outdoor cats are known to be great hunters and mice and other rodents don’t have a chance at setting up shop near your house with even just one savvy predator around. They’ll even sniff out birds’ nests in attics or mouse holes in basements and prevent any continued infestations as long as they can monitor the area. Chickens and ducks love to eat bugs around the garden, especially slugs and other hard to get at insects. Spiders, as much as some people don’t appreciate living with them, actually do a great job at indoor pest control when left alone; consuming roaches, centipedes, earwigs, mosquitos, flies and moths.
Larger Pest Control Methods
A great way to keep unwanted rodents like squirrels and mice out of any space without using poison is to utilize sonic repellents. These small boxes will run on a battery or plug into a wall outlet and emit high frequency sound waves that rodents specifically don’t like (they do not target or affect other animals and pets). The sonic repellents will work up to a certain square footage and tend to take care of an infestation within four to six days, depending on the area.
Exclusion traps work to catch squirrels, rodents, or bats at their point of entry into a structure with a one-way door. These are better at targeting specific problem animals rather than generic traps, which may catch anything. Some homeowners use motion-activated sprinklers to keep animals like raccoons and opossums at bay, but they can also be used to deter birds, rodents, or stray cats and dogs. Place decoys like scarecrows, plastic snakes, and owls around your property to keep birds from gathering.
Whether it’s an army of carpenter ants or a few mice in the attic, chances are you’ll run into some unwanted pests inside or outside of your home. While it might seem like the easy thing to do is lay down some poisonous traps, just remember that those products can affect your environment as well. By using organic pest control, you can keep your home and property protected while keeping it green.