Pesticides are toxic and, while often effective against pests, can be dangerous for your family and pets. Outdoors, sprayed pesticides might drift on a breeze and dust your vegetable garden or your neighbor’s yard. Indoors, pesticides can linger in the air, exposing the family to harmful chemicals. For these reasons, many people are turning to nontoxic pest control methods. Prevention is the best way to control pests, but there are times when even the most thorough preventative measures will not save you from intruders.
Preventative Pest Control Methods
As they say, cleanliness is next to godliness. And it keeps pests out, too. Keeping your home clean is the most effective pest control method. If you don’t leave food or dirty dishes lying around the house, animals and insects won’t be attracted to the smell. Sweep and vacuum regularly. Remember, just because you can’t see crumbs doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Clean inside pantries and cabinets, under and around the stove and refrigerator at least once a year.
This may seem obvious, but screens on doors and windows are a simple and relatively cheap way to keep insects out of the house. Also, screens on crawlspaces keep rodents from obtaining easy access routes into the house.
By caulking cracks in your house, you can minimize places for insects to hide and nest. Target bathrooms and the kitchen, especially doors and windows.
Nontoxic Pest Control Products
There are many kinds of traps available that target many kinds of pests. Some examples are sticky traps for cockroaches, glueboards for mice, flypaper, bug zappers, and traps specifically for rats, gophers, or moles. You can usually pick up traps at your local Home and Garden store.
Pheromones, essentially insect scent hormones, can be used in traps as bait. By emitting the scent of the female insect, pheromones can be used to lure males into a trap, where they are caught in a sticky glue. Insects are only attracted by pheromones emitted by their own kind, so you need to know exactly what kind of insects you’re trying to eliminate and plan accordingly.
Biological control is more often used in agriculture but can sometimes be used in home and garden situations as well. Basically it means using desirable organisms to eliminate undesirable organisms. For instance, certain plants in your garden can deter certain pests. For example, spearmint repels ants. Garlic repels Japanese Beetles. Indoors, spiders eat fruit flies and houseflies, so it may be worth leaving some of those webs around.
There are non-toxic repellents available for pest control. Mosquito repellents are the most popular, but if you look around, you can find repellents that target other pests. Some herbs, like eucalyptus and wormwood, are known for repelling animals and insects.