Here is a list of some products you find around the house or that you can easily purchase that will help you manage your pest problems. There are many others, but these may be the easiest to find and use.
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a mined alkaline mineral. When it is eaten by insects it releases carbon dioxide bubbles that are fatal. A paste made from baking soda will also give quick relief to an insect sting. You can sprinkle baking soda around your home inside and out and around pet food dishes. It will repel ants and roaches.
Believe it or not, beer is very effective at controlling some pests. If you soak a rag in beer and put it in the middle of your garage floor at night, it will be covered in drunken cockroaches the next morning waiting for you to dispatch them. You can also put some pie pans filled with beer outside where you see roaches. They will crawl in and will be there the next morning. They don’t check IDs. If you put some saucers of beer out in your yard you will attract snails and slugs who will get drunk and die in the brew.
Borax / Boric Acid
Borax is a combination of sodium, boron and oxygen and is mined from the soil. Boric acid is a crystalline material made from borax. 20 Mule Team Borax is very effective in controlling a wide variety of insects.
Boric acid is a powder that removes the waxy coating on the exterior of the insect’s body when they crawl over it. The waxy coating is used to retain water and without it the insect quickly dies from dehydration. When mixed in baits it can control ants, cockroaches and some other insects. The insects also ingest the material while grooming and subsequently die. Boric acid will remain effective indefinitely in a dry environment. Boric acid can be mixed with any food the roaches or ants are eating including peanut butter, jelly, sugar, syrup or honey.
While boric acid doesn’t cause cancer, birth defects, allergies or other ailments that pesticide can cause, it should not be taken internally as it is toxic if eaten. Keep any baits you make out of the reach of children and pets.
Catnip will not only repel insects such as cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes and others, but it will prevent rabbits, deer and squirrels from eating plants sprayed with it.
I frequently recommend using diatomaceous earth (DE) for controlling a variety of pests. If you use this product, be sure it is food-grade quality. Diatomaceous earth is mined from the fossilized silica shell remains of microscopic diatoms. Diatoms are animals that are related to crustaceans of today. They produced shells that are now ground up and used as a powder or dust for insect control. Diatomaceous earth absorbs the waxy layer on the surface of insect skins, causing the insect to desiccate (dry out). Diatomaceous earth also effectively controls slugs and snails.
This least-toxic insecticide is considered harmless to humans and is used in stored grains. Mix ¼ cup of food-grade DE in a gallon of vinegar and spray pests with the mix or pour into ant mounds as a drench. Do not buy or use DE sold for swimming pool filters. This form is not effective as an insecticide and, when inhaled, can cause silicosis, a deadly lung disease. Diatomaceous earth is abrasive to lung and eyes – so use proper personal protection when using this product.
Garlic is very effective in killing and repelling insects. Simmer about a dozen finely chopped cloves of garlic in cooking oil for about an hour, cool, strain it and spray your plants. It will work on many plant pests including whiteflies, thrips, spider mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers and aphids.
Powdered Rosemary leaves are used as a flea and tick repellent. Simply dust the powder onto the pet or areas where the pet sleeps. Rosemary oil will control lice
Salt will kill any vegetation and is a good herbicide for killing weeds in a sidewalk, along a fence or similar areas. Salt mixed with water will also kill snails and slugs. Salt will kill many insects and can be used in crawl spaces or other areas to deter termites and cockroaches.
Soaps can effectively kill insects because of fatty acids in the product that destroy cellular membranes in the bugs. It also produces a coating on the insect that prevents it from breathing through its spiracles. An effective soap spray consists of 40% water, 40% alcohol and 20% dish soap. You can mix 1 cup cooking oil with 1 tablespoon non-detergent liquid soap as an insecticide. Use 1 tablespoon of this mix to each cup of water and you can control aphids, scales, mealybugs and spider mites. It will kill the eggs as well as the adults of these pests. Do not use it if the temperature is over 85 degrees F. as it may damage the plants.
Sugar is a very popular insect attractant that can be used to control many insects if mixed properly with other ingredients. You can catch wasps and yellowjackets by cutting the top off a 2 litre plastic bottle, invert it inside the bottle to make a funnel and put two or three inches of sugar water mixed with a few drops of soap in the bottle. A good ant bait can be made by soaking paper towels with 2 tablespoons of boric acid, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a cup of water. You can put the paper towels in jars with several holes punched in the lid.
White vinegar is effective against ants. Vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar will attract and catch fruit flies, fungus gnats and wasps. You can mix 3 parts vinegar with 1part dishwashing soap to kill weeds.
It is possible to repel and control pests using certain essential oils. This is much safer than using standard, synthetic pesticides. You do have to be careful with essential oils as some people have a reaction to them if it is applied to their skin as a repellent. You do not want to use essential oils on any of your pets as they can have bad reactions as well. If you are going to use the oils as an insect repellent on your body, just add a few drops (5 to 10 drops) to an ounce or two of extra virgin coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, sesame oil or avocado oil. You can make a good tick repellent by adding lemongrass oil to water, mix it well and apply the mixture to clothing in unnoticeable areas, such as the inside of the pants legs and socks.
Here are a few essential oils that are good insect repellents: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage and Spearmint.
When using essential oils, one way to apply them is to use a pistol-grip squirt bottle. Mix a few drops of the oil with some water, shake it up, and start spraying the pests. If you are treating for ants wipe out kitchen cabinets with a damp sponge and 6-8 drops peppermint essential oil. Then place 3-5 drops of the oil on windowsills, doorway cracks, and in the corners of the cabinets under your kitchen sink.
Centipedes, cockroaches, booklice, earwigs, and silverfish can be controlled by placing several drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil in areas that collect moisture, such as damp basements, garages, and cabinets that house plumbing fixtures.
For mice place several sprigs of fresh peppermint between pantry items in your cabinets, or make a solution of 2 cups water and 3 teaspoons of peppermint essential oil and spray wherever you find mouse droppings. You can also soak some cotton balls in peppermint essential oils and place in areas where you don’t want mice, inside or outside and even under the hood of your car to keep rodents from eating the wires.
Essential oils may be the future of the pest management in homes and our schools, day care centers, hospitals, medical facilities and other public buildings. You can get some essential oils in health food stores or you can get them online.
There is no reason to spend a lot of money having your home sprayed with toxic pesticides. If you have any pest questions you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org