PHOTO: Kentish Plumber/Flickr

Even the best beekeeper and most conscientious environmentalist might want to keep some distance from bugs when it comes to the home. House spiders, ants and moths don’t do damage to our homes, but they can be nuisances, requiring significant cleaning, dusting and home management over time. Ants feast on pet food, for example, as well as even the tiniest crumb left on a countertop. In older homes where bigger cracks and gaps might exist, not to mention less insulation, this can become a big nuisance fast. On the other hand, serious problem pests, such as termites, require stronger action to protect your home. Here are some tips to keep your home secure, the natural way:


1. Keep Things Clean

Regularly clean cobwebs, old food and any amount of sweet or sugary drinks from surfaces or countertops. Keep piles of cardboard to a minimum, as that is prime location for termites to nest and start building their populations. Recycle such cardboard regularly.

2. Nests: Take Preventative Action

If you see wasps or yellow jackets begin to make a nest near your home or where your children play, knock the nests down immediately. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, call a pest management company, but remind whoever shows up that you don’t want chemicals around your home. Otherwise, such methods might be used liberally. Wasp, hornet and yellow jacket nests are easier to manage when they are small, if you can find them.

3. Hairspray Can Be a Bug-Spray Substitute

Did you know that hairspray works just well on paper nests as chemicals do? The compounds in the hair spray clog the breathing pores of the insect’s exoskeleton, killing it quickly. Hairpsray has its own environmental impact, and is certainly not without chemicals, but it is much better than conventional pest control chemicals as it is deemed safe for human use.

4. Find a Trusted Pest Control Team

For bigger jobs, call around and learn about the pest control companies in your area. Many are transitioning to more eco-friendly practices, and some companies employ traditional as well as more “natural” pest management techniques. For example, the company we work with installs underground termite bait stations every 12 feet around our house. They are long, hollow, underground cylinders with a flat screw top that can be mowed over safely. Technicians check the bait stations every quarter for activity.

5. Make Your Own Spray

I’ve formulated my own recipe for a pest deterrent spray based on what my natural pest management control team has used. The main ingredients are organic essential oils of wintergreen, rosemary and thyme. Purchase in bulk online to save money, and get a plastic spray pump from your home improvement store. Label the pump for essential oil use only, and use it only for this purpose. Per gallon of water, I use 1 cup of wintergreen essential oil solution, 1 cup of rosemary essential oil solution, and 1 cup of thyme essential oil solution. The oils must always be diluted for safety. Dilution will also make them last longer. Mix thoroughly, fill your pump and follow the directions on your pump’s guide to begin spraying. I spray a perimeter around our home and decks as well as above certain doors and other spaces where spiders and ants try to make their way in. Store your remaining solution in a glass jar for future use, and clean your pump thoroughly with warm, soapy water and store according to the pump’s manual.

This spray works well to deter pests, and, I must admit, smells absolutely amazing. However, keep in mind that essential oils are potent plant medicine, distilled in heavy concentrations, and they can be dangerous if ingested or if some of the solution gets in your eyes. Always wash your hands thoroughly after use. While it is safe for pets and children, the spray should be prepared and used only in a well-ventilated area.

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