No matter where you live, bugs getting into your house can be a problem. Many people think the only answer is to spray the bugs you see with harsh chemical pesticides. However, this does not have to be the case! There are many safe, natural alternatives to control pests in the home.
Preventing Pests and Insects in the Home
As the old adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thus, the most important part of household pest control is preventing the pests in the first place. And insects are, after all, largely beneficial in nature — we just don’t want them in our homes.
Perhaps the most important aspect of pest prevention, is to deny the unwanted houseguests your hospitality — in other words, don’t let them have any food or water. Clean up food crumbs and spills immediately; likewise, wash dishes as soon as possible, or at the very least, submerge them in soapy water. Take out any trash that includes food of any sort every night. Make sure faucets are fully closed and do not leak. Keep ripe fruit and similar food in the refrigerator. Any food not kept in the refrigerator should be kept in sealed, air-tight containers, such as Ziploc bags or glass jars with rubber stoppers on the lids.
Make the Home Unpleasant for Pests to Enter
In almost every case, it is better to keep bugs outside your home rather than to kill them. Thus, most natural methods of household pest control are insect repellants, rather than pesticides of any sort.
- Aromatherapy and Essential Oils – Many essential oils can repel insects due to their strong scent that is unpleasant to most bugs. Citrus oils (like lemon and orange), members of the mint family (like mint, peppermint, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, bee balm, marjoram, catnip), and certain spices like clove and cinnamon, are particularly effective. Different oils will be more or less effective against different insects, so see what works best for your particular pests.
- Cayenne Pepper – Most bugs, but especially ants, will give a wide berth to cayenne pepper. Sprinkling a small but fairly solid line of cayenne pepper at entry points (doors, windows, possibly baseboards, etc.) can drastically reduce or eliminate insect invasions. Because garlic powder has a similar quality, cajun seasoning can be a good choice for this.
- Cinnamon – works similarly to cayenne pepper
- Cucumber Slices – Ants despise cucumbers, so if they are your primary problem, placing small slices of cucumber at the entry point of ants and cockroaches can be a good option. If you can find them, bitter cucumbers work best. However, if you have other insect problems, especially fruit flies, this would not be an appropriate choice.
- Crushed Mint – Crushed fresh or dry mint leaves can be an effective deterrent to flies and ants, and is unpleasant to many other pests as well.
- Lemon Peels – When using lemons to season food, first carefully cut or finely grate (zest) the very outer layer of the peel – only the colored part, not the white part underneath it. This lemon peel can be very effective placed in closets to deter moths, or sprinkled around entry points can deter many insects.
Many of these alternatives are not actually pesticides, strictly speaking, but they do kill the insects rather than simply act as a deterrent.
- Diatomaceous Earth – Diatomaceous earth is non-harmful to humans and most pets, yet quite lethal to most insects. The tiny particles cut and abrade their exoskeletons, and in the end kill them through dehydration, usually within about 48 hours. Because of this, once the insects have been exposed, they will begin searching more actively for water, and may be seen more often at first. Simply sprinkle in places where the insects congregate — don’t forget hidden places such as behind or on top of cabinets and behind or under appliances.
- Soapy Water – simple dish soap or Murphy’s Oil Soap added to water in a spray bottle and sprayed directly on insects when you see them will kill many varieties of bugs.
- Boric Acid – sprinkling boric acid in places where insects can get to it but people or pets cannot can be a very effective natural pesticide, especially against roaches and ants. This is not the same as Borax, although that is also effective against ants (but not roaches, the boric acid is needed for roaches.)
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Soap – this is effective for several insects, but especially for fruit flies, which are difficult to deal with in other ways. Place small bowls with ACV and a little dish soap near the location of fruit fly infestations, and within a few hours, you will begin to see the drowned flies floating in the liquid.