Unwanted six legged visitors driving you “buggy”? Use these simple, non-toxic home pest control methods to eliminate and reduce common household bugs and avoid standard, neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides.
Keep flies and biting flies away
A time honored trick for keeping common flies away from animals and outdoor activities is to hang gallon plastic bags half filled with water with a penny in the bottom near the area you want fly free.
Apparently, the reflection of light off the water keeps the flies away. (It might be sensory overload of their compound eyes?) Make sure to hang the bag in the sun to get the best effect. I have not tried this, because we usually don't have much trouble with flies, but have seen it recommended on several sites. Let me know if you've tried it and how it worked for you.
Fly traps are another great option to reduce fly populations. They contain an attractant that draws flies in, with a one way opening that keeps them in.
Use screens/caulk, etc, to keep flies out of the home, and utilize good sanitation to reduce breeding areas. Keep compost piles actively working, and cover soft food waste with rough/course plant materials such as leaves or grass.
For biting flies that circle around the head (deer flies) that make a nuisance of themselves when you’re working outside or out camping and hiking, I recommend an old Boy Scout trick. Simply place a feather or other tall object on your hat. The flies are drawn to the tallest part of a moving target, and will circle the feather rather than your face.
Get Mosquitoes to Buzz Off with Catnip
Catnip oil contains a compound that is 10 times more effective than DEET for deterring mosquitoes. It’s a very easy to grow plant, so I always have some in my garden. When I’m out working and mosquitoes start moving in, I grab a couple of handfuls of catnip and rub it all over my exposed skin.
If you don’t grow your own catnip, you can purchase ready-made sprays online, or buy some catnip essential oil and mix a few drops in a spray bottle with olive oil. Alternatively, you can mix 1 cup alcohol (such as rubbing alcohol or vodka), 1 cup water and 40 drops catnip essential oil in a spray bottle and shake well. The oil based formula works well on bare skin, the alcohol based one can be used on skin or clothes.
The Easiest Fruit Fly Trap Ever
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. To make a basic fruit fly trap, take a small bowl or empty container (like a cottage cheese container). Place a small amount of fruit juice, apple cider vinegar or kombucha in the bottom of the bowl (about 1/8 inch). Put a small drop of dish soap into the juice, swirl it around gently. The soap breaks the surface tension so the flies go in for a drink but don’t come out again. My favorite juices to use for this are cantaloupe juice or tomato juice. Mildly fermented juice is even more effective.
Keep Yellowjackets Away from Your Picnic
I don’t mind yellowjackets, in general. They tend to be quite docile, and they eat cabbage worms in my garden. However, when their population booms in late summer/autumn, they can do a lot of damage to ripening fruit and make themselves a real nuisance at outdoor events.
For short term use, a simple yellowjacket trap can be made by taking a small plastic bottle, such as a 16 ounce water bottle, cutting off the top (about one inch into where the bottle widens below the neck), and inverting it into the bottom. Then place about 1 inch of sugar water (1 part sugar to 4 parts water – think hummingbird nectar) into the bottom of the bottle. Set on the table slightly away from the food. The yellowjackets crawl in, but can’t make their way back out again.
For a larger, sturdier trap, use the same method on a 2 liter bottle. You can also add wire to the bottle and hang it off the porch or near your fruit patch. (Yellowjackets can cause major damage in fall fruits around our area if left unchecked, especially raspberries.)
For garden pests, please visit “DIY Natural Pest Control in the Garden” to get tips for controlling cabbage butterflies, potato beetles, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, slugs and other garden troublemakers. Remember, many commercial insecticides are potent neurotoxins – chemicals you don’t want anywhere near you or your food.
Why Should I Bother with Non-toxic Home Pest Control? I want to kill the bugs.
The National Pesticide Information Center states:
“Since the removal of organochlorine insecticides from use, organophosphate insecticides have become the most widely used insecticides available today. More the forty of them are currently registered for use and all run the risk of acute and subacute toxicity. Organophosphates are used in agriculture, in the home, in gardens, and in veterinary practice. all apparently share a common mechanism of cholinesterase inhibition and can cause similar symptoms. Because they share this mechanism, exposure to the same organophosphate by multiple routes or to multiple organophosphates by multiple routes can lead to serious addictive toxicity.”
You can follow the link to NPIC for a list of currently available organophosphate pesticides. The article also discusses pesticide health effects such as:
- liver damage
- weakness or paralysis and paresthesia of the extremities
- problems with memory, concentration and mood
- persistent headaches, blurred vision, depression, irritability
- cranial nerve palsies
- lung disease
…the list goes on and on. Organophosphate pesticides readily store in fat tissue, so they stick around and keep causing damage. Standard pesticides don't just kill bugs – they can also kill us. Non-toxic home pest control is essential because standard pesticides can affect the body via both skin and inhalation. You don't want any sort of prolonged contact with organophosphate products.
Any other quick and easy tips you'd like to share for the critters that are bugging you? Or maybe you're looking for ideas to ditch a pest? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.