Your home is your castle and it’s up to you who you ask in. But there are some nasty little visitors waiting in your yard who don’t need much of an invite to take over your house. If you are suffering a backyard pest invasion or fighting the good fight to keep them out, here’s some super effective organic pest control methods that can help you reclaim your place.
Every home has small, sometimes hidden, intruders. For the most prevalent insect pests, pesticides are readily accessible on any supermarket shelf but they are often powerful inorganic chemicals that can be as detrimental to you and the ecosystem as to the backyard pest itself.
Learn to Deal with Pests
In most of the pest problems talked about here, there’s one solution that can always get you started easily, and that’s diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is not so popular, but DE should be the top of the list for defense against bug problems. It is non-toxic, affordable and safe to use when children and pets are around. Above all, it’s broad-spectrum so one purchase is the solution to many pest problems.
Here are some other natural, non-toxic ways to control household insect pests.
Ants are everywhere but you don’t want them in the kitchen so the first defense is to remove every food source. It’s not only about keeping countertops clear and sweet foods, like the sugar secure. Once these backyard pests get that far into your home, there’s a real problem. Ants will try any food they find and to keep them out, take a look at your floor. If there are crumbs or your pet’s food is handy, it’s an ant invitation. It takes just one ant scout to report back and bring back the rest of the ant family who starts to climb up to find more. Keep the scouts out of the house in the first place by looking for ant-sized entry points. Under exterior doors along the framework is the favorite, as is around pipework where it enters and exits the kitchen directly outside.
- Soap Water: Ants, don’t like water and getting sprayed with something viscous and sticky impedes movement and suffocates. Keep a spray bottle of soaping water handy for when you see ants. News of the massacre seems to get back to the colony and after a couple of goes, they generally don’t bother checking the area out again.
- Cucumber: Cucumber is mostly water and it has a viscosity on its cut surface similar to the soap suds. Sliced pieces or shaving at entry points is enough to put them off. Sour cucumbers work even better.
- DIY Natural Repellents: Ants are sensitive to pungent aromas so there are several herbs and spices that work. The mint leaves in mint tea bags or ground cloves work a treat as a deterrent. Scatter around where the ants are most active across the doorways to the outside and any other entry points.
- Any of the following items in small quantities also work to deter ant invasions and protect your thresholds, cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be immersed in a string piece), lemon juice, or cinnamon or coffee grounds.
- DIY Ant Bait: If it’s time to bring out the big guns, make up a mixture of a liter of water, a teaspoon of Borax and a cup of sugar. Dip cotton balls into it and put them in a small yogurt jar with holes drilled in the lid for the ants to reach them. There’s the hard bit. Ants will take the sweet cotton bait home to their nests where the colony will inevitably be decimated as they feed it to their young.
- Diatomaceous Earth: This is a completely safe substance for the nontoxic management of backyard insects. Just sprinkle a few handfuls of DE around the colony. It’s particularly useful for extended colonies that have been trying to encroach on your territory for years.
There are only a few small corners of the world that do not have cockroaches. They are a ubiquitous backyard pest. As fantastic survivalists, a heavy infestation can be difficult to shift. They prefer dark, warm and moist so that’s your kitchen and bathroom. A clean kitchen and bathroom are thought the best protection against cockroaches and it helps. But roaches will move into your house anytime to look around for food. Even if you keep a spotlessly clean apartment if they are in the building you still have an issue. You want to keep them out, although they are determined and crafty. If you spot even one roach, take a good vacuum and clean the area with a powerful carbolic soap then empty the vacuum right away putting the dust into a sealed container. If there’s one roach, there will be others perhaps even larvae and eggs.
You can also try the following remedies:
- Diatomaceous Earth: Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide product can be sprinkled in places cockroaches like particularly the tops of a shelf, behind the machinery and in food cupboards. The small particles that cut the waxy exoskeleton are harmless to humans but kill the insect within 48 hours. The insect also dehydrates and becomes more involved with looking for moisture after the procedure, so don’t be shocked if you encounter cockroaches more often for a while. Within two weeks of application, much of the colony is destroyed.
- Catnip: Catnip is a popular cockroach disinfectant. Nepetalactone, the main ingredient, is non-toxic to pets and humans. Leave small catnip sachets in the cockroach action zones. By adding water to make ‘catnip tea’, you’ve also got a useful spray for hard to reach areas and shelves and counters. This organic disinfectant should be used only in cats-free households!
- Soapy Water: Again. It’s versatile and cheap and suffocates the roach in the same way as ants.
- DIY Trap: Place one or two slices of bread drenched with a beer in a container and a line of Petroleum jelly on the inside top edge. Set the trap with a ramp up into it. This backyard pest trap is most suitable for areas infested with cockroaches. They find it impossible to resist climbing up and falling in.
- Boric Acid: It is a known fact that cockroaches like warm high up places. Put boric acid on the top of your kitchen cupboards and the roaches carry it straight back to their nests, killing them all. Boric acid is very harmful so keep it away from children and pets.
- Other Deterrents: As with ants, use cucumber slices but grated garlic also works well as a roach deterrent. There are many other commercially produced nontoxic cockroach traps on the market.
Normally fleas gain access to your home through your pet or get carried in on clothing when you’ve been in contact. There might be as many as 30 more you don’t see for everyone found on your pet. They only jump on your pet to feed. Most of the time they are in the pet bedding and carpeting and anywhere your pets like to hang out or sleep. The strongest line of defense against this particular backyard pest is twofold. You need to tackle the adults and eggs. A flea trap where you spot the infestation will get the adults and a liberal sprinkling of DE will dehydrate the eggs and kill off the larvae.
- Nontoxic Flea Traps: There are available on the market some organic flea traps. These traps are cheap and very efficient, offering extraordinary dominion of the flea without harmful chemicals. Just connect the trap into an electrical outlet: the heat and light of the trap will trigger fleas 24 hours a day.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth where fleas can exist for long-term for nontoxic protection of fleas. You may also brush the cat or dog’s hair with diatomaceous earth.
- Shampoo: Regularly bathe and brush your pet Using gentle soap rather than pesticides. Dip the hair in a tub of soapy water should you notice fleas on the comb.
- Citrus: 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.
- Pet Food Supplements: Mix yeast and garlic of the brewer or vinegar from apple cider to the food of your pets. However, using raw garlic as a food additive for cats is not recommendable.
- Cedar: Cedar wash, cedar oil and sleeping mats lined with cedar are available on the market. Cedar works as a great repellent for fleas. It could be the feel of the oil on their feet and or the scent. Either way, it works. In the olden days, people used cedar chests to store clothes.
- Vacuuming: Particularly in low-traffic areas, under chairs, etc., the carpet should be thoroughly tidied. In the vacuum cleaner jar, add flea powder to destroy the fleas you sweep, and put that bag in an outside garbage bin.
- DIY Flea Trap: Use a wide, hollow pan half-filled with soapy water to catch fleas in your house. Keep it on the floor and over the liquid shine a light. Fleas will leap to the lamp’s warmth and settle in the rain. The soap releases the pressure on the ground so that the flea does not jump.
- Fleabane: Plant fleabane in the yard or garden to repel fleas. This is a violet, daisy-like flowers rising 16-24′′ high annually and fleas can’t abide it.
The first line of mosquito protection is to seal their point of entry. Depending on the species mosquitoes can be active at any time of the day but those that are likely to be a backyard pest are more active at night and in the early morning. They don’t fly especially well and prefer still air. Having a fan on the go will hamper their flight progress but to be sure, use mosquito blinds loaded with repellents on windows or doors or keep them closed.
If you find they still get in the house then try any of the following solutions.
- Water Removal: Mosquitoes breed prolifically in standing water so its best to get rid of any containers collecting rainwater around the yard or garden. Running water isn’t a problem nor is water stirred up by birds in birdbaths, but still ponds, large puddles and even uncovered rain barrels are perfect breeding grounds.
- Nontoxic Repellent: Campers also say Herbal Armor, a nontoxic DEET-free repellent suggested by National Geographic, is the perfect mosquito repellent.
- Citronella Candles: Consider using citronella beeswax or soy candles in small areas like on decks or patios. When placed low to the floor and provided there is little wind, these candles are surprisingly efficient.
- DIY Garlic Mosquito Repellent: This makes an active organic bug repellent. In a tiny spray bottle, blend one part of garlic juice to five parts of water. Shake well and spray gently onto your body for up to six hours of active repellent. Cotton cloth strips can be coated in this solution and placed as a barrier in places such as doorways or on patios. Garlic will naturally repel mosquitoes and larvae for up to four weeks.
- Neem Oil: Neem oil is organic vegetable oil from India’s neem tree. The neem tree’s leaves, seeds and seed oil include sallanin, a product with powerful properties that repel mosquitoes. Neem oil is a natural substance and therefore can be used in the home safely.
- Marigolds: Planting marigolds in the yard is a good pest repellent as the plants do not like perfume pests and flying insects.
Ants, fleas, cockroaches, and mosquitoes have been living the good life with humans since the year dot. You’d think we would have won the battle to be free of them by now. Sadly, not. These backyard pests have been around for millennia and are not going to disappear anytime soon. They will still be around long after humans have gone. Not too long ago and without a thought for the environment, we’d reach for a DDT based spray to deal with it and it would work.
These days, such as harsh chemicals are reserved as an extreme solution. The epitome of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The risks aren’t worth taking for a typical backyard pest invasion and nonorganic solutions are needed anyway. Organic solutions work we just need to rediscover the most effective alternatives that worked for our ancestors.