Mice and insects like ants and mosquitoes can spread disease, eat your food, damage your belongings and lower your property value. You want to keep your home and yard safe from pests, but you probably don't want to spray a bunch of dangerous insecticides on your belongings or pay huge exterminator fees.
There are numerous organic materials and safe procedures you can utilize to perform natural pest control.
The best way to control pests is to prevent them from ever entering your property. Insects and mice can do damage even after early detection, so it's best to play it safe.
Pest control should be on your mind the second you purchase a home. When you walk through a potential residence, you should look for signs of mice or insect problems like holes in the walls or droppings in corners. You should ask your realtor or people living in the area what kind of pests you should expect. Once you know what you're dealing with, it's your job to keep your home clean and dry.
Usually, home pest control begins in the kitchen. Insects and mice are attracted to your food, so you want to do your very best to avoid temptation. You can't leave food out in the open. The Natural Resource Defense Council advises sealing snacks in airtight containers. You should keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator and keep jars like honey in plastic bags to create an extra layer of protection.
You need to clean spills immediately, as well. Inspect the preparation and dining areas after every meal to make sure there aren't any crumbs or spilled liquids. Insects like fruit flies love dirty dishes. if you can't get to cleaning plates and bowls right away, make sure they are submerged in soapy water. It's also beneficial to routinely take out the garbage.
Some insects like moths, bedbugs and mites are attracted to dust and dirty or musty fabrics. To keep your bedspread, clothes and furniture safe, you have to vacuum regularly and launder fabrics as often as possible. You should avoid storing dirty or wet fabrics in dark places like closets. When you're dusting you might try spraying surfaces with organic cinnamon oil to keep mites away.
You should seal up entry ways and keep an eye on common entrance points like heating vents. One thing to keep in mind is that certain plants deter insects. By keeping basil by your window, you'll drive away flies. Meanwhile, catnip is a natural mosquito repellent. Check the perimeter of your home and your garden for standing water that may attract mosquitos and other pests.
The pests interested in your plants include insects, mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds and deer.
A home garden can be a very beneficial addition to your property, but fruits and vegetables are pretty appetizing for insects and much larger pests.
The pests interested in your growing plants include insects, mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds and deer. A simple fence will bar entrance for some invaders, but most will slip through the cracks. You may want to wrap plants in mesh netting that restricts larger animals but lets in water, sunlight and oxygen.
Many people like to use some sort of scarecrow device to frighten away animals. Stationary objects aren't much of a deterrent, so you should find decoys that move in the wind, reflect sunlight or detect motion if you want them to be beneficial.
There are organic ways to keep your plants safe from pests without using insecticides or other poisons. Sometimes you can lay down a harmless material that produces an unfavorable smell. Bob Vila suggests marking the perimeter of your garden and certain internal points with Irish Spring soap to discourage deer or other animals. Many organic compounds like sulfur are beneficial to plant growth but prevent pests from becoming a growing problem.
You may have to keep your own animals out of your plants. If your cat or dog keeps digging up your garden, you can bar access with the same fence and netting tricks. Growing rosemary and sage is a natural way to keep cats out of gardens. You could also use coffee grounds to drive out cats and snails. You can train dogs to ignore plants with sensory cues and safe organic chemical solutions bought at pet stores.
If you are a pet owner, there are some extra considerations you must make to keep your home pest-free. Cats and dogs may attract ticks, fleas or tiny insects. The best way to avoid this is to keep your pets as clean and healthy as possible.
It's beneficial to give your pet a bath on a routine basis. You want to consistently vacuum any area in which they make contact. Some people may try to keep their cats and dogs off of furniture, but no matter how well-behaved animals might be, it's a good idea to clean fabric surfaces anyway just to be safe.
Also be sure to inspect your pets for signs of insect infestation. Keep abreast of their general health, and consult a vet if they start scratching more than normal or develop rashes. You should do a quick inspection for pests like ticks after taking your dog outside, especially if you walked through a wooded area.
Keeping your outdoor property well-maintained and clean is always a pest control best practice. It's harder for ticks to hide in short grass and you don't want your cats or dogs running through decaying plants. HGTV suggests adding cedar chips to your landscaping as an organic way to keep your pets and home pest-free.
Pest Control Practices
Prevention can stop the vast majority of insects and rodents, but problems may still occur. You need to have a plan in place as soon as you find ants, flies or spiders in your home.
You should keep a safe organic chemical spray handy.
If you see cockroaches in your kitchen or ants walking through your front door, your first priority is to eliminate the pests you can see. Your natural instinct might be to squish the bug, but for the sake of your shoes and floors, you should keep a safe organic chemical spray handy. You can use store-bought or make it yourself.
When you fear there may be mites, fleas or other pests in your carpet, vacuum as soon as possible. Vet Info suggests some insects may be too persistent for vacuuming alone. When it comes to fleas, first salt your carpet and then vacuum. The salt is a natural poison, but only for some adult insects. Perform the salt and vacuum routine once every 10 days for about a month to make sure you get them all. Keep pets away from salted carpets to avoid irritation.
Dust mites and other pests found in your sheets can be killed by washing them in hot water. However, if you have bed bugs, the best solution is to throw all infected fabrics away.
Locate Pest Entry Point
Sometimes finding where pests got into your home can be a simple matter of following ants back to their point of origin, but it's usually a bit more difficult. You want to look for patterns. Find the rooms where you most frequently spot pests and examine corners and cabinets for hidden holes. In your garden, look for holes in the ground or broken sections of your fence.
Mice don't need a very large hole to squeeze into your home. If you find a dime sized gap, plug it up with steel wool or some other strong, flexible material that mice can't chew through. You can dip the steel wool in a safe organic chemical deterrent to guard against pest attempts to dislodge the material.
When you find where insects come from, line the entry point with a natural substance like boric acid. You can also use silicone caulk to cover any cracks or crevices you come across that might be the weak link in your pest control defenses.
Safeguard Against Future Invasions
After you've dealt with current pests and taken care of entry points, it's time to clean. Wash or reorganize areas that saw insect or mouse problems to eliminate the causes of the invasion and prevent the problem from growing worse.
Wash surfaces with safe organic liquids that deter pest visits. For example, Earth Easy says citrus prevents spiders in your kitchen and vinegar eliminates scent trails ants use to find their way back into your home. Another easy way to break up the problem of ants is to put a small night-light next to the entry point.
If possible, use LED lights in your home or garden instead of traditional bulbs. LED options don't emit ultraviolet light, so bugs are not attracted to them. If you want to stick to traditional options, you can control pest intrusions by limiting your use of external lights at night.
The best way to prevent microscopic or particularly annoying pests from infesting your fabrics or furniture is to invest in plastic coverings. You may want to use furniture slips or store your blankets in airtight bags.
Safe Products for Organic Pest Control
When it comes to safe pest control options, find organic solutions that eliminate insects without proving a danger to your pets or family. Here are some natural products you can use to alter pest behaviors or stop them on the spot:
There are organic compounds and chemicals that drive pests away from your home and kill current intruders. Most options are very affordable, and you may already have some lying around your house:
Boric Acid - Powders that contain the element boron like boric acid or borax are traditionally used in natural laundry detergents. When insects come into contact with boric acid, it dehydrates them by eroding the waxy coating on their skin - this is particularly true of roaches.
While the chemical is organic, it could irritate humans or pets. You must prevent dogs, cats or children from ingesting it. The best way to use boric acid for pest control is to use it on entrances between major appliances or other areas pets and family members can't reach. You may try mixing in a little sugar with the organic compound to attract roaches and other pests.
Diatomaceous Earth - Another product that uses miniature sharp edges to dehydrate insects is diatomaceous earth. This organic product is made from fossilized prehistoric crustaceans and it is a very versatile pest control option. You can line cracks with diatomaceous earth or sprinkle it on garden soil where pests are detected. For the health and well-being of your family and pets, you'll want to find the food-grade variety and store it away from children.
Iron Phosphate - If you have slugs or snails in your garden, you may want to use iron phosphate. It is an organic compound of phosphorous, oxygen and iron. It has been used in food production for years, so it is completely safe, although you don't want to eat large amounts of it or get it in your eyes.
Many plants you may enjoy growing in your garden can repel insects.
Plants and Herbs - Many plants you may enjoy growing in your garden can repel insects. You may raise plants yourself or purchase them at your local grocery store. Besides basil, catnip and citrus, there are many other natural solutions. Lavender helps control fleas, flies, mosquitoes and moths and use around the home provides a very pleasant scent. Lemongrass has also been found to deter mosquitos because it contains natural citronella. For more mosquito control, you could also try lemon thyme, rosemary or mint, according to the Mother Nature Network.
You could either grow pest-repellent plants around windows or use their oils mixed with water in spray bottles to wipe down counters or spray bugs directly. Most plant oil mixtures are safe to use on plants in your garden or around pets.
Kitchen Cabinet Options - There are many other natural solutions that you probably already have handy. To kill roaches all you have to do is hit them with a spray of soapy water. You can eliminate spider mites with a mixture of water and crystal salt. Cayenne pepper works well against ants and you can use onion and garlic spray to kill a number of insects. The Global Healing Center says you can combine organic tobacco and water to create a product that will control aphids and other pests.
Decoys and Traps
Besides the organic chemical options, you can add certain traps and decoys to your home or garden to control pests.
An Owl Box - You can attach an owl box to your roof or a nearby tree. It's a bird feeder specifically designed to attract owls that will eat small rodents on your property. Owls don't bother gardens and the constant presence of a predator will frighten away many pests that do.
Fake Nest - Wasps are very territorial. If you place a fake wasp nest on your porch it prevents the real thing from happening on your property. It works better than other garden decoys, because wasps aren't as smart as craftier pests.
No Kill Traps - If you have mice and want to remove them without hurting them, you can purchase traps that capture them alive. Once the mouse is caught, it's up to you to release it in the wild. You should be sure to free them far away from your home so they don't find their way back.
No Pesticide Traps - You can also look for glue traps or other devices for smaller pests that are safe and organic. When shopping for traps, make sure you check the ingredients and see if the box specifically says it's safe for use around pets.
Fruit Fly Trap - You can make your own trap for fruit flies using vinegar, dishwashing fluid and water. Just fill a container three quarters full with vinegar, include a few drops of dish soap and fill the rest with water. You can leave this trap in your kitchen and watch it collect a number of flying pests.