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• ants
• dust mites

• cockroaches

• fleas

• bed bugs

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• mosquitos
• flies
• wasps
• moths, earwigs, silverfish and more

 
Insect pests are an intimate part of every home.

In the air, carpet, counter or cupboard, every home shares it's resources with these tiny, often unseen invaders. Pesticides are available for most common household insect pests, but these potent chemical compounds may be more harmful to you and the environment than the pests.

Here are some natural, non-toxic ways to control household insect pests.


 

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Ants
Ant Control

The first line of defense is to remove the attractants: keep counters free of crumbs and sticky spots. Cover the sugar and put the honey jar in a plastic baggie. Cut off water sources such as drips or dishes left soaking overnight.
If the ant invaders persist, try these simple measures:
 
  • Keep a small spray bottle handy, and spray the ants with a bit of soapy water.

  • Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants' point of entry. Many ants have a natural aversion to cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.

  • Leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active. Dry, crushed mint leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.

  • Trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.

  • Mix one liter of water, one teaspoon of Borax and a cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them in a small yogurt container with holes punched in the lids to allow ants access. Place container in a location where ants are present. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies where it will eventually kill the colony. Important: use indoors only; must be kept away from pets and children.

  • Leave a small, low wattage night light on for a few nights in the area of most ant activity. The change in light can disrupt and discourage their foraging patterns.

  • Ants on the deck? Slip a few cut up cloves of garlic between the cracks.

  • For long-term nontoxic control of ants, sprinkle diatomaceous earth where ants congregate.

  • For a Kill on contact ant killer, use BugShooter insect control spray.

  • Dust Mites
    Non-toxic Mite Control
    Microscopic dust mites are everywhere in the home - in our beds, clothing, furniture, book shelves and stuffed animals. For people with allergies or asthma, dust mites are a problem.

    Here's how to reduce the dust mite population in your home:
     
  • Vacuum mattresses and pillows. For people with sensitivities to dust mite allergens, dust mite bedding is available with zippered, allergen-impermeable encasings designed to block dust mites.

  • Wash bedding at 55 degrees Celsius (130F) or higher. Detergents and commercial laundry products have no effect on mites unless the water temperature is high.

  • Keep books, stuffed animals, throw rugs and laundry hampers out of the bedroom of allergy sufferers. Wash stuffed animals occasionally in hot water.

  • Tannic acid neutralizes the allergens in dust mite and animal dander. Dust problem areas with tannic acid powder, available at health food stores and pet centers.

  • Cover mattress and pillows with laminated covers which prevent penetration by dust mites. Avoid fabric-covered headboards.

  • Cover heating ducts with a filter which can trap tiny dust particles smaller than 10 microns.

  • Avoid using humidifiers. Dust mites thrive on warmth and humidity.

  • Cockroaches

    The best defense against cockroaches is a clean kitchen and bathroom. If roaches are a problem in your home or apartment, vacuum well and wash the area with a strong soap. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed container.
    Also try:
    Non-Toxic Cockroach Control
     
  • Diatomaceous earth is a safe alternative which can be sprinkled in areas where roaches congregate, especially hidden areas such a cabinet tops and behind appliances. Harmless to people, the tiny particles cut the waxy exoskeleton and kills the insect within 48 hours. For a week or so after the treatment, the dehydrating insects will search more actively for water. Therefore, do not be surprised if you see roaches more often after the treatment. Most roaches should be killed within two weeks of application. Click for more info or to purchase diatomaceous earth

  • Catnip is a natural repellent to cockroaches. The active ingredient is nepetalactone, which is non-toxic to humans and pets. Small sachets of catnip can be left in areas of cockroach activity. Catnip can also be simmered in a small amount of water to make a "catnip tea" which can be used as a spray to apply around baseboards and behind counters. This natural repellent should only be used in homes without cats!

  • Keep a spray bottle of soapy water on hand. Spraying roaches directly with soapy water will kill them.

  • In an empty one pound coffee can, place 1 or 2 pieces of bread which have been soaked thoroughly with beer. Place in areas known to have roach infestations.

  • It is a little known fact that roaches like high places. If you put boric acid on TOP of your kitchen cabinets (not inside), if space allows between ceiling and cabinets, the roaches will take the boric acid to their nests, killing all of them. Boric acid is toxic by mouth - keep away from children and pets.

  • Leave bay leaves, cucumber slices or garlic in the affected area as deterrents.

  • Non-toxic roach traps are commercially available. Click for more info or to purchase Non-toxic Cockroach Traps

  • Fleas
    Non-toxic Flea Control
    Fleas usually gain entry to your home through your pet or visitors' pets. For every flea on your pet, there may be as many as 30 more in the pet's environment.
    Before reaching for pesticides, try these safer choices:
     
  • Bathe and comb your pet regularly. Use mild soap, not insecticides. If fleas are found on the comb, dip the comb in a glass of soapy water.

  • Citrus is a natural flea deterrent. Pour a cup of boiling water over a sliced lemon. Include the lemon skin, scored to release more citrus oil. Let this mixture soak overnight, and sponge on your dog to kill fleas instantly. Do not use citrus oil on cats.

  • Add brewer's yeast and garlic, or apple cider vinegar, to your pets' food. However, it is not advisable to use raw garlic as a food supplement for cats.

  • Cedar shampoo, cedar oil and cedar-filled sleeping mats are commercially available. Cedar repels many insects including fleas.

  • Fleas in the carpet? The carpet should be thoroughly vacuumed especially in low traffic areas, under furniture, etc. Put flea powder in the vacuum cleaner bag to kill any fleas that you vacuum up, and put the bag in an outdoor garbage bin.

  • Trap fleas in your home using a wide, shallow pan half-filled with soapy water. Place it on the floor and shine a lamp over the water. Fleas will jump to the heat of the lamp and land in the water. The detergent breaks the surface tension, preventing the flea from bouncing out.

  • In the yard or garden, plant fleabane (Fleabane Daisy Erigeron speciosus) to repel fleas. This is an annual growing 16-24" tall with violet, daisy like flowers.

  • Nontoxic flea traps are available commercially. These traps are inexpensive and very effective.

  • For long-term nontoxic control of fleas, sprinkle diatomaceous earth where fleas may occur. You can also rub diatomaceous earth into the fur of your cat or dog.

  • For more information, read our article: Natural Flea Control


  • Mosquitos ............................................................................................. .. ....... ....... .......top

    The first line of defense against mosquitos is to seal their point of entry. Mosquitos are most active in the early morning and early evening. They seek areas of still air because they are hampered by breezes. Close windows and doors on the side of your house which are opposite the breeze. Then try:
    Natural Mosquito Control
     
  • The most important measure you can take is to remove standing water sources. Change birdbaths, wading pools and pet's water bowl twice a week. Keep your eaves-troughs clean and well-draining. Remove yard items that collect water.

  • Campers often report that the very best mosquito repellent is Herbal Armor, a nontoxic DEET-free repellent which is also recommended by National Geographic. For small areas such as decks or patios, citronella beeswax and soy candles can be effective. These candles are most effective when placed low to the floor of the deck and in areas where there is little breeze.

  • If you're using the barbeque, throw a bit of sage or rosemary on the coals to repel mosquitos.

  • An effective natural bug repellent, mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent lasting up to 5 - 6 hours. Strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in this mixture and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent. Commercially available garlic based, all natural mosquito repellent and larvae killer will repel mosquitoes up to 4 weeks

  • Neem oil is a natural vegetable oil extracted from the Neem tree in India. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the Neem tree contain sallanin, a compound which has effective mosquito repelling properties. Neem oil is a natural product and is safe to use.

  • Planting marigolds around your yard works as a natural bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects do not like.

  • Safe, nontoxic pheromone-based mosquito traps are now commercially available.

  • For outdoor mosquito control, bat houses are effective. Some bat species can eat 500 - 1000 mosquitoes each per might.

  • For broad application outdoor mosquito control, electric mosquito traps are commercially available. These traps do not use chemicals or propane gas.

  • If you're stung, Ditch the Itch is a nontoxic cream which takes the itch out of bites.


  • Is DEET safe?
    The active ingredient in most chemical-based mosquito repellents is DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), developed by the US military in the 1940s. This powerful chemical is absorbed readily into the skin, and should be used with caution.
    Common side-effects to DEET-based products include rash, swelling, itching and eye-irritation. often due to over-application. For safer use, consider the following:
    ~ The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents used on children contain no more than 10% DEET. Parents should assist children in applying DEET-based products.
    ~ Lotions can be applied more effectively than sprays. Only a thin layer should be used.
    ~ Be careful to avoid areas near the eyes or mouth.
    ~ Wash skin exposed to DEET after coming in from mosquito areas.
    ~ Minimize exposed skin areas by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, if possible.

    Recent research suggests that DEET products, used sparingly for brief periods, are relatively safe. Other research points to toxic encephalopathy associated with use of DEET insect repellents. Experts warn that DEET shouldn’t be used in combination with sun-screen because DEET shouldn’t be reapplied often.

     
    Thai Lemongrass
    Thai lemon grass

    (Cymbopogon citratus) is a natural and effective mosquito repellent. It contains the natural oil, citronella, which is safe and effective; in fact, lemon grass citronella is considered more effective than true citronella as an insect repellent.

      Herbal Armor Insect Repellent
    You can buy Thai lemon grass at garden centers and supermarkets, and it grows readily into a clump about 15" across and about 2ft tall. To use as a mosquito repellent, break a stalk off from the clump, peel off the outer leaves, until you find the scallion-like stem at the base. Bend the stem between your fingers, loosening it, then rub it vigorously between your palms - it will soon become a pulpy, juicy mass. Rub this over all exposed skin, covering thoroughly at least once. You can also make a tincture using alcohol, for spray applications.

    Plantings around the patio will also help repel mosquitoes.

    Herbal Armor™
    Insect bite protector. Repels mosquitoes, ticks and black flies, without DEET

    buy Herbal Armor
    more info
    Flies
     
  • Use mint as a fly repellent. Small sachets of crushed mint can be placed around the home to discourage flies.

  • Bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus wrapped in small cheesecloth squares can be
    hung by open windows or doors.


  • Non-toxic fly control
  • Place a small, open container of sweet basil and clover near pet food or any open food in the house.

  • A few drops of eucalyptus oil on a scrap of absorbant cloth will deter flies. Leave in areas where flies are a problem.

  • You can make your own flypaper with this simple recipe: Mix 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tbsp. granulated sugar and 1 tbsp.

    brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut strips of brown kraft paper and soak in this mixture. Let dry overnight. To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with string or thread.


  • Safe, nontoxic, pheromone-based outdoor and indoor fly traps are available.

  • For outdoor fly infestations, the best trap you can use is the Flies Be Gone trap, now available in our online store.


  • Bed Bugs
     
    The best defense against bed bugs is prevention, and this is easily achieved in rooms which have not yet been infected. If there is presence of bed bugs in a room, then a thorough cleaning and vacuuming is required, followed by preventive measures. Frequent travellers should be especially alert to early signs of bed bugs in the home.
    bed bug
  • The first step in controlling bed bugs is to determine if there are bed bugs present in your home or hotel room. Non-toxic bed bug traps use heat, CO2, and a pheromone lure to attract bed bugs to a sticky glue surface. These traps are safe for air travel and can go in your luggage or carry-on bags.

  • The best preventive measure against bed bugs is to apply non-toxic diatomaceous earth in the vicinity of bed bug activity. Be sure to use food-grade diatomaceous earth. Do not use pool-grade diatomaceous earth.

  • Wash all bedding in hot water (120 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter). This will kill any bedbugs in the bedding.

  • If you are sleeping in rooms where you suspect bed bug activity, non-toxic bed bug spray can be applied which kills bed bugs and their eggs on contact. It also acts to prevent bed bug activity for up to two weeks. This spray can be applied to mattresses, furniture, luggage and clothing.

  • If there is a bed bug infestation, a thorough cleaning and vacuuming of the room is necessary. The most likely hiding places for bed bugs will be small cracks and crevices closest to where you sleep. The mattress and box spring should be lifted from the frame, and after vacuuming, sprinkle diatomaceous earth along the edges of the frame which holds the box spring. Personal items such as stuffed animals, blankets, etc. should be vacuumed and placed in plastic bags for several weeks.

  • Other Home Insect Pests

    Wasps

    Eartheasy has a separate page about natural wasp control. See
    Natural Wasp Control

    Moths
    Cedar chips in a cheesecloth square, or cedar oil in an absorbant cloth will repel moths. The cedar should be 'aromatic cedar', also referred to as juniper in some areas.

    Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made using any of the following: bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, pepper corns or wormwood.

    Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent - simply toss into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.

    Natural attractant pheromones have been developed for controlling moths, and are now available as
    clothes moth traps and pantry moth traps.

    Earwigs
    Diatomaceous earth is a safe and effective way to control earwigs in the home. One application in key spots (bathroom, baseboards, window frames) can be a long-term repellent.

    To trap earwigs, spray a newspaper lightly with water, roll it up loosely and secure with a string or rubber band. Place on the ground near earwig activity. The next morning pick up and discard the paper in a sealed container.

    Another method to trap earwigs is to take a shallow, straight-sided container and fill it half full with vegetable oil. Clean the trap daily; the oil can be re-used.

    Silverfish
    Silverfish prefer damp, warm conditions such as those found around kitchen and bathroom plumbing. Start by vacuuming the area to remove food particles and insect eggs. Silverfish can be easily trapped in small glass containers. Wrap the outside with tape so they can climb up and fall in. They will be trapped inside because they cannot climb smooth surfaces. Drown them in soapy water. The best preventive control is to remedy the damp conditions.

    Nontoxic
    silverfish traps are also commercially available.


    Stink Bugs
    Stink bugs found indoors can usually be controlled with a vacuum cleaner. Attics can harbor stink bugs which migrate in living areas of the home. Diatomaceous earth can be applied in attic areas. especially near openings to the living areas.

    Nontoxic
    stink bug traps are also commercially available.


        



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