Before you grab the chemical bug spray to deal with a creepy-crawly problem at your house, try these safe, natural alternatives to control common pests.
These microscopic mites can survive easily in home climates. Asthma and allergy sufferers are most sensitive. Mites thrive in warm, humid environments and feed on shed skin from people and pets. They commonly live on mattresses, bedding, drapes, carpets, and upholstery. They can’t be completely eliminated, but here are some methods to help control them:
- Clean. Wash all bedding weekly. Launder in temperatures of 130º or higher. If using cold water, dry your bedding in direct sunlight. If you have items that can’t be washed, like a favorite stuffed animal, a night in the freezer every week or so will eliminate dust mites.
- Use mattress and pillow encasements to prevent penetration by dust mites. These can be found on line or in most stores that carry bedding.
- Thoroughly vacuum carpets and upholstered surfaces. You’ll need to use a micro-filter bag or HEPA filter vacuum. Throw the bag away after each vacuuming, or if using a bagless vacuum, dump and clean the collection bin thoroughly. If you have high sensitivity to dust mites, removing carpeting and replacing it with hard surfaces, such as wood or tile, is recommended by experts.
- Avoid using a humidifier. Keep humidity at 50% or lower with a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
- Dust often and use a damp rag to be sure you are picking it up the dust and dander, not just spreading it around.
These small insects live off the blood of mammals, which unfortunately means your family and pets. They can jump 7 inches high and 13 inches horizontally. Here are some helpful ideas to keep fleas from invading your house:
- Keep your pets free of fleas. Use mild soap or natural shampoos containing cedar, which is a natural flea repellent, available at pet stores. For dogs only... add sliced lemon to boiling water, remove from heat and let sit overnight. Next day, using a sponge, apply to your dogs coat to kill fleas. Do not use on cats, citrus is toxic to cats.
- Keep your carpet free of fleas. Vacuum thoroughly and often. Throw the vacuum cleaner bags away outside of your house.
- Trap fleas at night. Use a shallow dish, like a glass pie pan, fill half way with soapy water. Place it on the floor next to a lamp. The warmth and light attracts the fleas and they cannot escape the water. You can also buy plug-in flea traps at your local hardware store. These use light and a sticky surface.
- Use diatomaceous earth throughout your house. Diatomaceous earth is a natural product made from fossilized remains of plants called diatoms. It looks and feels like talcum powder. It is lethal to fleas but harmless to humans and pets. Note: Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder and could irritate the lungs of people with respiratory issues. Do not use with fans.
These busy, marching armies can show up quickly, in large numbers, and be very difficult to get rid of. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what they’re even after! Here are some things that can help eliminate this common pest:
- Try to find the outside source. Don’t leave pet food out in bowls. Keep trash in sealed containers. Be sure BBQ grills and surfaces are clean.
- Find out where the ants are entering. Seal entrances with caulk and weather stripping if possible. Keep your kitchen cabinets and surfaces clean and free of crumbs. Be sure all food is sealed or in airtight containers. Clean jars and bottles, such as honey or syrup, of all sticky residues.
- Use natural repellents. Put white or cider vinegar in a spray bottle and treat locations where ants are. Use these herbs and spices to repel ants: cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, coffee grinds, chili pepper, and dried peppermint. Place in areas where ants are congregating or entering such as pantries.
Insects buzzing around and landing on you food can be quite annoying! It seems to get worse as the weather warms up. Even if you try to keep doors closed and windows screened, they seem to find a way to get in. Once in, there are some easy methods to get rid of them:
- Try a spray bottle filled with soapy water to drop flies right out of the air (if you don’t want to use the tried and true fly swatter!).
- Make fly paper! Just mix and heat water, honey, and sugar. Dip strips of heavy paper (such as craft paper or grocery bag) in the mixture. Let dry on a rack. Hang them in areas where flies are a problem. Dispose when used.
- Outdoor control: There are many types of outdoor traps available. Baited fly traps can be a safe and efficient way to help control pesky flies outside. How do they work? These traps contain an attractant inside. The flies enter the trap and cannot escape. There are disposable fly traps with nonpoisonous bait as well as re-fillable/reusable products available online and in stores.