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Natural Born Pest Killers – Home Remedies for Pest Control
Not everyone likes cucumbers. You may be interested to know that ants hate cucumbers, especially cucumber peels. You will especially appreciate this fact if you want to get rid of them. Just spread cucumber peels – the bitterer the better – where the ants enter your home and they should get the message. Consider a cucumber a welcome mat for ants.
Cucumbers are one example of natural pest control. It uses natural and generally non-toxic ingredients to repel or get rid of pests including ants, wasps, mites, moths, flies and other insects.
People cut cucumbers instead of spraying Bug-Be-Gone because they don’t want toxic chemicals in their homes or in their garden sheds. There is increasing evidence that synthetic pesticides pose a health risk to humans and animals.
Here at Planet Natural, we have a full range of natural pest control products, including Orange Guard ($8.95) which uses d-limonene, or orange peel extract, to control insect pests; Safer BioNeem ($12.95), which uses neem oil’s active ingredient — azadirachtin — to kill insects before they become biting or reproductive adults; as well as a variety of traps including the Disposable Yellow Jacket Trap ($4.95) and the Apple Worm Trap ($15.95).
For those who are willing to invest a little time and effort into making their own remedies, we have listed a variety of remedies to help you fight pests on your home turf and in your garden.
Barriers act like barbed wire to keep crawling pests, such as ants, out. These include garlic – grind it with water and apply – cayenne pepper, cinnamon, powdered charcoal, bone meal, talcum powder or chalk. Keep in mind that different pests have different aversions, so you’ll have to see which substance works best with those trying to sneak into your home.
Another way to think about obstacles is to grow certain plants around the periphery of your home. Not only do they look nice, but they will also deter pests. Plants known to repel ants and aphids include: spearmint, peppermint and pennyroyal.
You can use the same trick to control flies. Just replace the above herbs with mint and basil, which repel flies and smell good to people.
Boiling water is great for controlling ants or if you see where they are crawling into your house, squeeze some lemon into the hole or crack.
Barriers also work for snails. They don’t like sand, lime, copper or ash, so use these boundaries to keep slugs away.
Baking soda and powdered sugar mixed in equal parts is a good cockroach killer. Just spread it around the area where you see cockroaches and soon you won’t see them again. (Boric acid, while slightly more toxic, is naturally occurring and is another way to get rid of them.)
Here’s a really tricky way to get rid of fire ants. (All’s fair in love and war against pest insects.) The only way to get rid of the infestation is to kill the queen. Wait until the dry season is over. Sprinkle the fiery anthill with instant grits. Workers will carry semolina to the queen for her royal meal. They will eat gruel, and when it rains, they will drink. And that’s what’s going to kill her. The noise will expand in her stomach and she will “bloat” herself to death. When she gets out of her way, the leaderless ants will die. (This suggestion came courtesy of the book Tightwad Gazette II.)
Cloves smell better than mothballs and are a natural deterrent to winged pests. You can also make a water trap by filling a small basin with water and leaving a night light hanging over it. The moths will be attracted to the light and will eventually collapse, burn and fall into the water. Add a little dishwashing liquid to reduce the surface tension of the water.
Corn gluten meal may not sound very tasty, but it is a natural, preventative attack against weeds. Apply it early in the spring before weeds emerge. Corn gluten meal is a byproduct of the corn milling process and is a natural fertilizer.
Diatomaceous earth consists of the fossilized remains of diatoms, single-celled organisms. The glassy nature of diatomaceous earth makes it one of the oldest forms of insecticide. The sharp surfaces cut the cuticle of the insect and the insect dies of dehydration. Diatomaceous earth kills voles, ants and elderberries. Since it is not discriminating when it kills, be sure to only apply it to the surface of the soil where you think insects are over-welcomed.
Grind rosemary leaves into a fine powder and sprinkle it on your pet or its bedding to repel fleas.
Ivory liquid dishwashing detergent can act as a natural insecticide. Dilute with water until you have a 1 or 2 percent solution, then spray the plants.
Do you need neem oil? Neem oil – made from guess what? – neem seeds, prevents the growth of fungi, repels and kills insects, including mites. Although it fights many pests, it is non-toxic to birds, mammals and most beneficial insects. One word of caution – it can sometimes affect bees so use it as a spot treatment to reduce contact. Neem oil is usually sold in a concentrated form, to which water is added.
Fruit flies are connoisseurs of wine. Okay, maybe they’re not wine snobs, but they’ve been known to drink a drop or two here and there. They especially like Chardonnay or so we hear. Use that knowledge to your advantage: fill a saucer with some cheap white wine and add some detergent to it. Leave it for the flies to sip and die. This solution gives a familiar meaning to the term “rotten bowels”.
A natural fly swatter associated with wine is to place something sickly sweet like mango peel in the bottom of a narrow necked wine bottle. Flies can fly in, but they can’t fly out.
You can even make your own fly paper. Boil water, sugar and corn syrup together. Spread the extremely sticky mixture onto brown paper grocery bags and voila, you have your very own fly paper to catch flies.
For mosquito control, the old custom of lighting citronella candles will help repel the pesky critters.
To get rid of snails and slugs, invert the flower pot near the shade plant. Use a stick to support the flower pot or place it on uneven ground – whatever will allow enough entry for snails and slugs. They will crawl under the edge to avoid the heat. Check the flower pot at the end of the day and remove slugs and snails.
Vinegar is an excellent herbicide. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar—white is best because it won’t stain, you certainly don’t want to use expensive, aged balsamic vinegar on weeds—and spray the vinegar on the unwanted flora on your porch, patio, or backyard. It is one of the few things that will work against noxious weeds such as Canada thistle. All vinegars are diluted, so try to buy the highest possible concentration at the supermarket.
Using organic fertilizers for your lawn will not only keep it green, but it will make it healthy and more ready to defend against weeds and pests. Organic fertilizers such as bat guano, grass clippings, alfalfa meal, fish emulsion and worm castings work well.
Although natural pest control products are a step up from most commercial insecticides, you should still use them sparingly. Don’t just jump to something that treats the symptom – look for the root cause and find a solution to that problem. Overuse can end up creating new problems – dealing with one pest in exchange for another.
However, natural pest control can be a great non-toxic solution to keeping your garden and home free from pests.
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