Pests are a natural part of living in homes. While there are various commercial solutions available to address infestations, natural remedies can give you peace of mind by providing relief without endangering your health. Whether your particular problem has to do with ants, rabbits, cockroaches, fruit flies, or rodents, organic and nontoxic techniques can provide the solutions to unwanted invasions. Best of all, many of these methods are free or can be implemented with items readily available in your home. Read on to learn more about safe pest prevention and removal.
Where one ant is, a trail of ants is ready to follow. Thankfully, water, sugar and Borax can put an end to their marching. Mix half a cup of sugar and 1 ½ teaspoons of Borax thoroughly. Add this mixture to 1 ½ cups of warm water and stir until all particles have completely dissolved. Find some clean, shallow plastic lids that you've saved from disposable food containers, turn them over, and fill them with the solution. Place the lids in areas where ants are known to travel. The ants will be attracted to the sugar, eat the solution, and take it back to their queen, too.
Keep all of your grains and sugar-rich foods in tight containers. When you spot an ant trail, mix soap and water in a spray bottle and spray the area to kill the ants. This also removes scent trails that ants use to communicate with one another. Should your ant problem be located outside, sprinkle cornmeal around the exterior of your home and remove water sources to drive ants away. If you locate a nest or a mound, pour boiling water over it.
- Least Toxic Control of Indoor and Outdoor Ants (PDF)
- Organic Fire Ant Management
- Ants Management Guidelines
- PETA's Tips for Humane, Nontoxic Ant Control
- Ant Control for Homeowners
- Management and Treatment of Fire Ants
- Ants in the Home
It can be disheartening to find that a garden that you've spent months nurturing has been infiltrated by rabbits. You can stop rabbits from treating your garden as a buffet by creating a non-toxic mixture of water and spices that tastes too strong for rabbits to enjoy and applying it to your plants. To do this, find an empty milk jug and fill it up with water. Add three to five tablespoons of cayenne pepper to it. Allow the mixture to sit for about three days before pouring it into a spray bottle and applying it to the stems of your plants. The strong taste will make rabbits scamper away.
Maintaining your yard can prove beneficial to freeing your home from these critters as well. Cut away brush, weeds, and other overgrowth in which rabbits can hide. Surround gardens with mesh netting or build a fence to keep pesky rabbits at bay. Make your home owl-friendly, as these birds naturally prey on rabbits. Or add rubber snakes to your yard or garden to frighten rabbits back into the wilderness.
- Preventing Rabbit Damage
- Rabbits in the Garden
- Cottontail Rabbit Identification and Repellants
- Rabbit Control (PDF)
- Keeping Rabbits Away From Desirable Plants in Your Garden
- Protecting Gardens and Landscape Plantings from Rabbits (PDF)
Some natural ways to repel cockroaches are readily available in your kitchen cabinet or refrigerator. You can cut up pieces of garlic and leave them around your kitchen, if your cockroach infestation is located there. If you have a cat, you can also use some of its catnip sachets to deter cockroaches, as its key ingredient, nepetalactone, can make them scurry the other way. Simply place them in rooms where you've noted a problem.
Should your cockroach problem be outside, consider soaking pieces of bread in beer and putting them in open, empty coffee cans around the exterior of your home. Coat the rim of each can with Vaseline so that roaches can crawl in but won't be able to get out.
Fix leaks and remove standing water to avoid providing drinks for cockroaches. Avoid leaving food out on counters, and pick up crumbs. Caulk or seal cracks and crevices around your home, including those around plumbing. Food bowls for pets should only be left out during feeding times, as they can attract cockroaches. Vacuum every other day to pick up droppings and egg cases. Regular cleaning and sanitation can cause cockroaches to leave your home as they search for other sources of food and water.
- Cockroaches: The Environmentally Friendly Pest Control Series (PDF)
- Find Cockroach Liars
- The Cockroach FAQ
Fruit flies are insistent little pests that can take the sweetness out of your kitchen. Instead of spraying harmful chemicals in the places where you prepare your food, consider constructing a simple and inexpensive trap. Pour a third of a cup of warm water into a 16-ounce glass jar. Stir in a packet of active dry yeast and a teaspoon of sugar: The fermentation of the yeast coupled with the sugars makes an irresistible concoction for these pests. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and secure it around the rim with a rubber band. Poke a very small hole into the plastic where fruit flies can enter, then let it sit for a week while it collects fruit flies.
Certain prevention methods can also reduce fruit fly populations. Regularly remove trash from your kitchen. Store cans of soda and beer outside, as the liquids in these can attract fruit flies. Inspect fruits before purchasing them at the grocery store for infestations. Consider buying young fruit that hasn't ripened all the way to give you some time to eat it before it turns into a potential fruit fly factory.
- Fruit Flies
- How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Your Home
- What to Do About Fruit Flies
- Household Flies
- Cherry Fruit Fly Management
- Introduction to Managing Fruit Flies in Hawaii
Mice and rats are attracted to food sources and items that can act as shelters. To significantly reduce an identified population in your home, prevention is key. Store your food items in glass or plastic containers with lids. De-clutter areas, especially garages, so that they won't be attractive to rats or mice as potential habitats. Place as many items on shelves as you can. Remove organic material, such as wood or compost, from near the exterior of your home. If you're interested in planting a garden, design it so that it is as far away from your home as possible. Think about adopting a natural predator, such as a cat, so that it can hunt down a wayward mouse. Inspect the interior and exterior of your home for cracks and crevices, like those located in foundation or walls, that rodents can slip through, and seal these potential entryways. Place glue traps or other humane rat traps around your home to begin manually removing the rodent population.
- So You Have Mice – Now What? (PDF)
- How to Control Rats, Mice and Darkling Beetles (PDF)
- Rats and Mice: Get Them Out of Your House and Yard
- Meadow Mouse Control (PDF)
- Integrated Pest Management (PDF)