If pests have moved in to your home and it’s time to chase them back out, there are several inexpensive and Do It Yourself techniques you might try before calling in professionals. Over-the-counter products and professionals tend to be very expensive solutions. Commercial products often aren’t even as effective as home cures and you can always call in a wildlife removal professional if these home remedies don’t fully do the trick. If you have a well-established and extensive pest infestation, you may need to just let the residential pest control professionals solve your problem. Otherwise, here are several proven remedies for common household pests.
The best way to a pest free home is prevention. The first step to prevention is doing some clean up, inside and outside of your home. This not only helps with prevention but if you have the beginnings of an invasion, you can do this to track down where the pests are coming in and where they are living.
Outside, make sure you don’t have bushes or plants growing too close to your home that attract bugs. Certainly, these shouldn’t be touching the house siding and there should be a buffer of a few feet between plants and home. You may be able to get away with a good trimming this summer without having to dig up and relocate the plants.
If you have firewood or wood debris in your yard, make sure it’s three feet or more away from the house. Damp and rotting wood is a favorite place for bugs and pests to call home. When moving woodpiles and/or trimming back bushes, it’s also the best time to keep your eyes open for entryways the pests are using to get into your home. Pests tend to be attracted to the unsightly elements of a house, like unsealed or old garbage (move garbage cans away for the house), leaky pipes, and food residue. Invaders also enter your home through cracks, rotting wood siding, and gaps in masonry.
Water mixed with different household remedies and poisons takes care of many common pests. Mixing roughly one part water and one part vinegar in a spray bottle will typically convince ants to find a new home other than where you live. Spray where they come in the house, along the baseboards, doors, and windows. Follow and spray the trail to their food source, spraying the entire trail. This kills the ants sprayed and more importantly, it destroys the scent trail. Keep an eye out for more ants, and spray wherever you see even a single one hanging out. Let the water-vinegar solution sit a couple of days before wiping up dead ants with a cloth. Repeat if you see more ants. Even if they don’t come back right away, repeat a few times the first week to keep them at bay.
If the vinegar mixture doesn’t entirely do the trick, you can try a Borax and sugar mixture placed in small containers. Position them on the ants’ trail and let them feast. These ants will take the mixture back to the colony to share, killing more ants. Again, this process takes a few days, as more ants come to grab the mixture and take it back to their hiding place. Depending on the time of year and the type of ant, they may be hungry for fatty foods. Something like peanut butter might be the preferred bait. If the sugar fix isn’t working, try mixing Borax with something oily or fatty.
If you’re an organic gardener or farmer, you’re familiar with diatomaceous earth. It’s is a powdered substance made up of fossilized remains of phytoplankton. It’s non-toxic and harmless to mammals but lethal to bugs. You’ll find it in feed stores, hardware stores, health food stores, and online. Diatomaceous earth is effective at killing ants, spiders, and even bed bugs. Spread food-grade (not the version used in swimming pools) diatomaceous earth along baseboards and in corners — anywhere you typically find bugs. Use enough for a good dusting but don’t pile up the powder or bugs will just crawl over it.
If cockroaches, fruit flies, and/or gnats are your enemy, build a simple homemade bug trap. Cut off the top 3 or 4 inches of a plastic soda bottle. Invert the top and duct tape it to the bottle bottom - making a funnel leading into the bottom. For fruit flies or gnats, pour apple cider vinegar through the funnel and into the bottom of the bottle.
For cockroaches, fill the bottom of the bottle with soapy water. Cockroaches are attracted to water and crawl in to drown. This trap is also known to take care of the stray wasp or two by pouring in some honey or other sweet substance into the trap to attract them. If you have your own DYI tricks for getting rid of pests, please add it to the comments below. Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].