Any home can host insect invaders such as spiders, flies, ants, dust mites, cockroaches, fleas, mosquitoes, silverfish and moths. While chemical pesticides are a quick and easy fix, they must be used with care to avoid risk of inhalation, skin absorption, irritation and pet exposure. Many natural insect repellents are just as effective without the risks or harmful environmental contamination.
Foods Insects Hate
Use foods insects hate to repel them and keep them from invading your home. Cloves, sprigs of lavender, catnip, mint, cayenne pepper, citrus oil, citronella, garlic cloves or juice, bay leaves, and oil of cloves all work well at thresholds and along baseboards to repel crawling bugs such as ants, cockroaches, silverfish, spiders and beetles. The fresher these items are, the stronger and more effective they'll be.
No More Fleas and Roaches
If fleas and/or cockroaches have invaded your home, several natural repellent approaches will probably be necessary to get rid of them. Pets must be brushed and bathed regularly, and dogs can be treated with a citrus wash made from scoring the rind of half a lemon and boiling in 4 cups of water to sponge on and kill fleas. Vacuuming and steam cleaning rugs, especially in corners, is necessary for flea infestations, as well as cleaning all pet bedding. Diatomaceous earth kills fleas and roaches. Sprinkle it in areas where roaches are observed and rub it into pet fur where fleas are observed.
Use hygiene as a natural insect repellent. Follow visible ants and cockroaches; they will usually head for food, so look for them near the stove, pantry and sink. Practice food hygiene in all rooms of the house. Vacuum, sweep and mop up all traces of crumbs or bits of food, especially any sticky residues. Clean up under and around appliances such as toasters, food processors, microwaves, ovens and can openers to remove all traces of old food. Store all food in sealed containers that keep insects out. Don't leave food out on counters or tables. Avoid leaving wrappers, boxes, half-eaten food, plates and cups out anywhere. Hygiene eliminates food sources for marauding insects and creates an inhospitable environment to them.
Seal Their Entrances
Careful observation of insects in the house reveals how they are getting inside. Follow visible insects to see where they come from and where they go. Seal areas where they disappear. Check the draft sweep at the bottoms of doors, thresh holds and sides of doors for holes, cracks and separations that are allowing insects to enter. Tighten door hinges to eliminate loosely hanging doors and repair any ripped screens. If insects are disappearing under appliances or cabinets, pull appliances away from the wall to see underneath and behind them. Empty cabinets where insects appear to be migrating. Be prepared to deal with a mass of insects with rubber gloves and a bucket of hot, soapy water to mop them up and kill them.
- Eartheasy; Natural Insect Pest Control; Eartheasy.com; 2011
- "Natural Pest Control: Alternatives to Chemicals for the Home and Garden"; Andrew Lopez; 1998
- University of Illinois Extension; Household pests can be a nuisance; Sandra Mason; 2009
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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