suffering from a pest problem. But despite spending centuries using different techniques different pests still persist transmitting diseases to crops, plants, animals and humans. What is more, potent chemicals used to eliminate different pests are proving increasingly ineffective as resistance of the organisms is built up; in other cases, we are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and human health impacts of insecticides such as DDT or other herbicides which were extensively used during the 20th century. So more traditional techniques that are based on using natural predators or other preventative techniques for pest control are becoming a very attractive alternative to the use of chemicals.
So if you have a pest problem or want some easy-to-follow tips to make sure you never have one read on!
When you think of the use of pesticides, insecticides and other pest control chemicals, you think of big farms and businesses. But you also need to look closer to home: in fact, home and garden use of such chemicals can add up to more than 160 million pounds a year— which is about 30 million more than business and government combined¹.
To minimise the use of such chemicals in your home, try to keep things clean! Conventional flea treatments often contain highly toxic ingredients that can cause harm to our nervous system causing nausea, dizziness and even seizures. Instead, you can opt for regularly steam cleaning carpets and other surfaces, washing rugs and pet bedding in hot water and vacuuming. This kills and removes fleas and their eggs¹.
It is not just hot temperatures that are good for getting rid of pests, below zero environments also kill larvae. So try freezing woollen clothes by placing them in your freezer. Always store away clean clothes as perspiration and food residue attracts moths; for extra safety, add a sachet of dried lavender.
Soapy water is also your ally for getting rid of ants and cockroaches. You can fill a spray bottle and use it on your unwanted visitors. The soapy water removes the chemical signposts left by insects, stopping the rest of the colony from following suit¹,².
If roaches persist, you can create your own traps: place a piece of banana inside a jar lining the inside of its rim with Vaseline. Put the jars in different places in your house where roaches may be hiding such as under sinks. The roaches will be attracted to the banana, get into the jar but then will not be able to get out because of the slippery surface. Once they are trapped, clean the infected areas with boric acid, a low-toxicity mineral to make sure you have gotten to all of them.
Your garden can also benefit from some environmental friendly pest control methods. One easy way to minimise the occurrence of pest is to plant flowers and trees that attract the right kind of predators for different pests. One such flower is the dandelion. Its leaves taste like endive and they attract ladybugs, which feast on a lot of unwanted organisms. Birds also feed on different insects that are considered pests. Planting colourful plants will attract hummingbirds but you can attract different species by hanging bird feeders with the kind of food that they prefer³.
Cleaning up your backyard is just as important for controlling pests as it is for indoor environments. You can remove aphids and mites by applying some high water pressure from a garden hose. If you find bigger insects on your plants, you can manually remove them and put them into a can of soapy water. Similarly, pick off discoloured leaves, snip off diseased parts of the plants and destroy them. Then, always disinfect your tools with alcohol or a mixture of water and bleach to minimise the potential of spreading diseases⁴.
Some essential oils like cedar oil or citronella oil are natural and non-toxic insect repellents. Cedar oil is safe for your skin and has a pleasant odour; if you have pets it can be used to treat their bedding to help control fleas. Similarly, citronella candles can help repel mosquitoes but you can also opt for planting Citrosa Geranium in your garden or in pots for your balcony so you always have it at hand⁴.