Recently I was at a friend’s house when I noticed a giant carpenter ant crawling across the wall. The master of the house promptly squished it under his thumb, to my squeamish protests, followed by his description of a crunch and a squirt. Bleck. When love-all-creatures me groused about the kill, he said, “but it was in my house!” to which I replied, “maybe it thought we were in his house!”
Anyway. I cannot tell a lie. I have killed insects before–but generally only under one condition: if it is in the process of sucking the blood from or lending a disease to one of my daughters. I am lightening quick to defend the innocent creatures on this planet, until one of them threatens my children–at which point Mama Bear kicks in and smashing, squishing and general swatting may occur.
But what about pests that like to ramble on in and make themselves at home? Is using a pesticide or rodent trap the best way to get rid of ants, roaches, flies, fleas, mice and rodents in the house? It seems to me that if we do everything we can to persuade them from entering in the first place, we are taking an important first step in alleviating the need for pesticides–both sparing the critters’ lives and taking important precautions for our own health as well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that poisons that can kill insects can’t be all that great for us either–they are poisons after all. (Read a report of the dangers of household pesticides here.)
Here are a number of tips to prevent pests from entering your home:
- Get rid of any standing water, damp areas or water-damaged material–they all attract insects.
- Fix leaky plumbing (good for water conservation too!). Don’t leave water in plates under your houseplants, under your refrigerator or anywhere overnight.
- Don’t inadvertently feed them! Clean areas where food is stored, prepared or eaten. Don’t leave dirty dishes or pet food out for very long.
- Store opened food items in tightly closed glass containers which will deter insects from chewing through boxes or bags.
- Put food scraps and trash in a tightly covered garbage or composting can, and take out the trash frequently.
- Remove or block their hiding places. Caulk cracks and crevices to block access to your home.
- Caulk and seal openings in walls, use weather stripping on doors and windows, and use screens on floor drains, windows and doors.
- Don’t store newspapers, paper bags, and boxes for long periods of time–they make cozy homes. Also check for insects in packages or boxes before bringing them into your home.
- Vacuum regularly, especially under your appliances.
- Keep exterior spaces clean to deter flies: Clean up pet litter, and tightly close all garbage cans.
- For fleas, bathe your pets regularly. Wash mats, beds or surfaces that they lay on and vacuum your house weekly or more.
If these steps fail to curtail your pest problem, you may choose to bring out the big guns. Well, the big non-toxic guns that is. Try these green solutions to pesky pests:
What’s you take on household pests? Do you “dispatch” by any means possible? Do you have some favorite all natural tips to share? Leave a comment, we’d love to hear.