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Pest Patrol: Use Natural Products to Rid Your Home of Bugs

Joanie.Demer

Every summer I dread the humid weather, the hot temperatures, and most of all, the pests that seem to beeline across every floor in the house.  I could call a professional to spray in and around my home, but the costs can quickly add up to hundreds a year. Instead, I like to use homemade solutions to stop the annoying little raiders:

Inside the House

Baby powder creates an ant barrier around the house. The fragrance also causes ants to lose track of their scent trail back to the colony. Sprinkle a generous amount of the baby powder around the baseboards of problem rooms and pay special attention to vents, doorways, and windowsills. Bonus: carpets smell fresher. Here’s a Johnson’s coupon to pick up some powder on the cheap.

Vinegar has many uses. Its acidic nature makes it a natural insect repellent. I rinse a washcloth with water and pour a small splash of vinegar in the middle. Any surface where I have seen insects get thoroughly wiped down: mainly kitchen floors, counters, and the base of the refrigerator. This method works best against ants and flies.

Hedge Apples, a common fruit found in forests and parks on the Osage Orange tree each fall, contain an extract called elemol which is known to repel insects. I place them in the garage, basement, and kitchen. The lifespan is about three months, but they work wonders against ants and spiders trying to find a way inside.

Iodized Salt will become your best friend in the fight against silverfish. Pour lines along the floor where you see the intruders and against any holes or cracks that could be entry points. As the silverfish crawl through the salt, the water inside their bodies diffuses outside, causing them to shrivel up and die. Walgreens often sells their 26 oz. container of salt for only $.50 after in-store coupon, but the regular price of $.99 isn’t bad either.

Old Fashioned Cleaning: Dirty kitchens attract ants and roaches and keep them coming back year and after year. When a pest problem arises in a specific room, remove all of the furniture (if possible) and scrub the floors with hot water and soap. Get every nook and cranny. Pull out the refrigerator and stove. Vacuum at least weekly. Focus attention on the laundry room too.

Newspaper and Rubbing Alcohol: Aside from hiring a 24/7 bug patrol, you can turn to natural repellents to keep the ants and other creepy crawlies from the kitchen. I soak old sections of newspaper in a little water and rubbing alcohol and place crumpled pieces on windowsills, in room corners, and on higher surfaces. The cold, wet paper balls will attract ants, earwigs, silverfish, and spiders and dries them out so they die.

Outside The House

Spices: Many gardens actually attract insects due to the odor and oils found in different flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Sprinkle garlic powder, black pepper, or chili powder around the house and in the garden to cover the scent of these plants while repelling most insects. Cuter pests, like rabbits and deer, will also want to stay away from such strong and unpleasant odors.

Vinegar, Again: This old standby works well for earwig infestations. I mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz the base of the house, making sure to include windows and garden areas near the house. The vinegar mixture should be applied biweekly and after each rainfall.

Witch Hazel: Is a natural astringent that keeps bugs at bay in the yard. When vinegar just isn’t doing the trick, I combine equal parts water and witch hazel in a bottle and spray the areas where I see aphids, ants, and earwigs. Be on the lookout for “try me free” rebate stickers I’ve seen on T.N. Dickinson’s witch hazel bottles this year, good through 2013.

Mint: Plants from the mint family, such as peppermint, catnip, and lemongrass have potent oils that repel insects, making them perfect additions to gardens and kitchen windowsills. Pick up starts for these plants for just a few dollars at local greenhouses or pet stores for catnip. Arrange plants in the garden so that each side has a minty plant guard.

Vegetable Oil: Earwigs are a common problem in my neighborhood, usually a result of new plants and mulch in the garden. I fill empty yogurt or butter containers with a thin layer of inexpensive vegetable oil. The scent attracts earwigs and the oil prevents them from escaping. Mwahaha!

Good Old Soap: A simple soap and water mixtures help to alleviate pests from the yard. I like to use Green Works dish soap and stock up whenever Target has really great sales. After boiling some water, squirt in a few tablespoons of soap and quickly spray the suds on the garden plants and around the outside of the house. Not only will the soap help to keep everything clean, but insects won’t want to hang around a cleaner that breaks down their bodies.

A Caution

Be careful when using commercial bug killers and repellants around the house, as they are dangerous for pets and children. Diatomaceous earth, while being a natural insecticide, can be lethal if inhaled, and is more expensive than other methods mentioned above.

 This has been a guest post by Caitlyn from Davenport, IA
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