Natural Pest Control

How to prevent and treat pests in the home and garden using natural methods.

Whether you're trying to rid your home of ants or the garden of aphids, there are alternatives to using pesticides. So before you reach for the spray can, consider trying some of these environmentally conscious methods instead. This is especially important in households where children or pets reside. Pesticides have been linked to many illnesses and are harmful to the environment. There is a greater demand for organically grown food as the public becomes more aware of the hazards caused by pesticides. Many options for treating pests in the home are more cost effective than the popular use of pesticides. With a little planning and common sense, you should be able to keep uninvited visitors in the home to a minimum.

The use of beneficial insects is a farming practice that is becoming more common. Every insect has at least one natural enemy. Instead of using pesticides that are both harmful to the environment and will eventually produce insects that have a higher tolerance to chemicals, many farmers are choosing to use beneficial insects. These are insects that help keep the population count of pest insects under control. Ladybugs are a well-known beneficial insect. However, when pesticides are used it affects the ladybugs as well. When there are fewer ladybugs around to keep the pests in check, the pest population can increase to numbers much greater than before the use of pesticides. This can create a vicious cycle since more pests equal greater damage to crops. Other well-known beneficial insects: lacewings, praying mantids, dragonflies, syrphid flies, ant lions, ground beetles, and lightning bugs. Some types of beneficial insects are available for purchase but it is difficult to restrict the insects to a confined area. Once released they will likely travel over a widespread area. It is a good idea to have a variety of plants in the yard and little or no use of pesticides. This will encourage the beneficial insects to remain and reproduce.

In the late 1960's a method called Integrated Pest Management was introduced. I.P.M. places emphasis on preventing pests in the first place rather than the use of toxic treatments to kill them. It is not a quick fix to a pest problem. Instead it is a more detailed plan that requires certain steps to be followed.

1) Observe the Pests- monitor the quantity of insects entering the home. Do they only enter through a certain room? Are their numbers increasing? Are they only attracted to a certain area of the home such as the kitchen?

2) Don't Give Pests Reason to Enter the Home- keep the home clean and free of clutter. Keep food and drink containers properly sealed and stored. Seal all cracks and crevices where bugs may enter. Fix all plumbing leaks.

3) Tolerance Level- Know your tolerance level. How many insects in the home can you tolerate? Do you panic at the first sign of a few ants?

4) Take Action When Pests Reach Tolerance Level- I.P.M. supports the use of all non-toxic treatments before any type of pesticide is used. If the problem cannot be corrected by using natural methods then the least toxic method of pesticide is first employed.

Some common home remedies used to prevent pests:

1) Spraying them directly with warm soapy water will kill ants and cockroaches.

2) Citrus juice prevents and kills fleas. Soak a lemon overnight in hot water. The next day apply the liquid to your pets' skin.

3) Add flea powder to your vacuum bag. This will kill all fleas that you vacuum. Change the vacuum bag and discard outside after use.

4) Dried lemon peel can be used to prevent moths. Simply tie the lemon peel in a cloth or sachet and hang in the closet. You can also place the lemon peel in a clothes chest if you keep clothing stored in an attic or basement.

5) Plant mint outside the perimeter of the home. Both ants and flies have an aversion to mint.

Homeowners can also purchase traps that do not kill but allow the pest to be released in an area away from the home. These are common for larger animals such as squirrels or raccoons that have entered an attic.

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