Awhile back I asked the readers of my column to share any home remedies they had for controlling pests and I got a very good response. I want to share some of them with you as even entomologists can have pest problems from time to time. All of these will be in a book I am doing on my column. I certainly don't know if they all work or not but I am going to try them next year. If anyone on the list has any additional home remedies for pest control I would like to hear about them.
HOME REMEDIES FOR PEST CONTROL
I must write before I forget. Some years ago I learned a method of ridding cockroaches from premises. Our roaches did not get the sumptous (sic) tidbits offered, we used plain boric acid.
My mother had rented an apartment to the same tenants for years. To all outward appearances careful grooming, always cleaning car, immediately reporting anything amiss. The only thing they overlooked were the bugs. They finally moved.
We sprinkled boric acid inside refrigerator motor, inside stove, under linoleum, around the edges of room. They disappeared and have not been seen since.
I know if you make a solution of boric acid with water and apply to dogs it can relieve flea infestations as well as heal any bites.
Just to let you know boric acid is tried and true. Refer to column in Press of Atantic City. From a reader in Ventnor City, NJ
--------------- HI, first let me say that we (the Chapel Hill News) run your column every week. I always enjoy reading it because not only are you entertaining, but you're against pesticides. Here are my offerings for your book: If ants are coming in through doors or windows, put a cinnamon stick across the path. They will not cross it. And according to a Latino friend of mine, tile floors are too cold for cockroaches and mice. They don't like it. Therefore it's a natural repellant. From a reader in Chapel Hill, NC
----------------- Although the remedy I discovered is for gophers, not insects, I'd like to tell you what it is anyway.
I discovered that you can get rid of gophers by pouring garlic salt down the hole. I don't know what happens on the gophers end, but it works. No more activity at hole and no new holes.. From a reader in Santa Maria, CA
------------- This is in response to your question about home-made solutions to get rid of pests. I use a syrup made out of corn syrup, honey, white sugar and water, mix it on the stove until the sugars all melt and it's syrupy but pourable, then add a good amount of boric acid powder. Once you mix it all together, you can apply the syrup to the spots where ants congregate and on their trails. They love the sugars and run to get it, and then the boric acid gets them. I used this remedy this year a couple of times, and it totally wiped out the ant colony that was under my house and trying to get in. I had a bad infestation last year, and this year I had no problem because I used this stuff at the first sign of them. It's also a good solution because you can put it exactly where you want to without having to spread it around where it's not needed. The syrup formula isn't an eaxct one, either, just mix it all up until it looks good to you. The ants don't care what proportion ingredients are in it, they just like the sugar! From a reader in Richmond, VA --------------- I was pleased to read your column in today's Atlantic City Press regarding pesticides sprayed out of doors. My neighborhood has many folks who spray constantly and / or have a commercial service that I think overdoes it. When I tactfully mention chemicals go right through our sandy soil and into Delaware Bay (and in my windows if I don't catch on and close them soon enough) they smile and laugh good naturedly as if such a notion could only come from a wild woman! I guess I'm flaggergasted that they can't see it.
The reason I'm writing however is to give you a couple of great remedies for crickets and I think roaches too if applicable. Get a box of 20 Mule Team Borax and sprinkle generously around doorways and corners in or outside. For ants use boric acid especially when you detect their trails. This works well in garages and sheds. It can be swept away and reapplied. While you wouldn't want to inhale it etc., it is not dangerous if it comes in contact with the skin.
I read once that cucumber peelings repel ants but that doesn't seem to slow my little visitors.
I applaud your efforts to help people see the light. I hope you are more successful than I am. From a reader in North Cape May, NJ -------------- When I lived in New York City, I was able to wipe out roach colonies in two apartments with the following method. Not to be used where there are pets:
Mix a couple of tablespoons of boric acid with water, until the consistency of cake frosting, and spread it on a slice of bread. (Any bread...doesn't matter.) Place in the plastic lid from a coffee can, and trickle a little water over it until there's water visible all around the bread. Place one of these inside the (cold) oven or broiler, and another in a dark cabinet (under the sink is good). From a reader in St. Louis, MO -----------------
I mix one part sugar to 4 parts of borax (commonly used for laundry). I sprinkle this on ant hills. The ants eat both the sugar and the borax- I suppose they can't tell which is which. The ants disappear in a few days. Do it of course in dry weather. From Martha Boyce in Tucson, AZ
---------------- We have been coming to Tuscon for the winters (Sept. thru Apr-May). In leaving our place in the care of homecare businesses, we were told to leave fresh leaves of the herb Basil in the corners of the inside walls and behind furniture. In all the months and years (since 1990), we have been doing this and haven't had any problem with insect infestation ever. We live in Southwest area outside of Tuscon. From a reader in Tucson, AZ ------------------- Old South African trick to stop little black "sugar ants" from coming into the house:
Find out where they are coming in and put a "barrier" of ordinary talcum powder across the entrance route, e.g. on windowsills, door-frames etc. It doesn't have to be very thick or wide, but don't leave gaps.
Don't know why it works, but they won't cross the line. I taught this to my American step-daughter when her little girl was a baby and she didn't want to use poison around the house. She was a bit dubious when I told her on the telephone, but she soon phoned back to tell me it worked! (Of course it did!!!) From a reader in Tucson, AZ -----------------
I was reading your article and I would like to share my home remedy to controlling ants.
I put bayleaves and listerine mouthwash in the corners of my food pantry to control little ants coming in through and entering into my flour and powered sugar. This remedy helps alot and I will always use this since it works wonders!
I would like to mention a homemade remedy that I have used on hummingbird feeders to keep those nasty ants away; I wipe the string that holds the hummingbird feeder with vaseline petroleum jelly. I have been using this remedy for a long time and it really knocks those ants down.
Another remedy I would like to mention is; I also wipe my houseplant's leaves with olive oil and this destroys those little flying bugs that fly around with the moisture around the houseplant's leaves.
One remedy that I forgot to mention with roaches is to place bowls around the house filled with boric acid, it also works wonders for creepy crawlers!
Thank you very much for allowing me to share some home remedies with your articles and your book. You can write my name too with the articles and the book. From a reader in Albuquerque, NM ----------------
Since I'm an Avon rep, I'm not really supposed to reveal this cure for ants, but the company's Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil works better than anything I've ever tried. Just spray some where the ants are coming in and they leave - it's non-toxic and also smells good (to humans). From a reader in San Francisco, CA
------------------ I enjoy your column immensely. I usually clip it out and send it to my sister in West Virginia. She has reactions to most chemicals and never uses sprays or any chemicals around her house.
I am also very sensitive to chemicals and never spray around my home either. I clean with vinegar and water or baking soda and water. If I need a cleaner I use Bon Ami.
The best thing I've ever used for roaches is slices of raw cucumbers placed in the cupboards and kitchen drawers. Replace them when they dry out. From a reader in Tucson, AZ -----------------
We were so happy to read your article about the side effects that can be caused by flea remedies. The last two times we have given our dog his flea treatment, within five days he has had trembling and what we thought was a seizure, the second time. The vet told us that the treatment would not have any effect on the dog in that way.
We have since decided to stop administering the topical flea treatment, and are going to try sprinkling around our dog's bedding, on his body, and on areas around the outside and inside of the house 20 MULE TEAM BORAX LAUNDRY DETERGENT. This was a suggestion by our neighbor who has two dogs, two cats, and a horse -- with NO FLEAS!
Hopefully we will have great success, with a happier, healthier very important member of our family. From a reader in Oakland, CA -------------------
Richard Fagerlund, BCE Environmental Services Home: 247 Mountain Shadows University of New Mexico P.O. Box 1173 Albuquerque, NM 87131 Corrales, NM 87048 E-mail: (505) 922-9705 (home) (505) 277-9904 (office) (505) 440-6384 (cellular)
Dear all:I found the contributions by Dr Fagerlund's readers most interesting.I am intrigued by the use of cucumbers. I think that I shall do a bitof quiet experimenting. After all, ¿have you tried a split raw potatoas a 'fridge deodorant? Amazing.Talcum powder is also interesting. "Real" talcum powder isabrasive, one of the few things that do get under an insect´sdefenses.Boric acid? A very old remedy for cockroaches. It fell into disreputeat Buenos Aires long ago, but maybe we have different species ofroaches. The most abundant here is Periplaneta americana.Tiled floors are not uncommon here, very convenient to clean, andbelieve me, they do not deter roaches. This very morning a groggyone (poisoned) was crossing right down the middle. We do notappear to have domestic mice; perhaps the rats scare them away.Bay leaves were used by colleagues working on spiders to eliminatemites from their rearing cages for live food. Also, first quality driedSmyrna figs and fine dried mushrooms from Italy are packed withbay leaves. Basil is a sovereign remedy for myiasis, even the ratherdreadful rhynomyases caused by the screw worm Cochliomyiahominivorax. Olive oil against whitefly- hm. White soap is not badfor a small valuable plant with whitefly, greenfly or scale insects. Italso removes the honeydew from the lower leaves, which areusually attacked by smut if nothing is done. But I mean real soap ina bar. Washing powders are anything but soap, and they may harmsome plants.Stick of cinammon? I must try that one too. But wait- what speciesof ants?I have "argentine" ants, which may make sense to you since I ammailing from Buenos Aires, but actually the little pests come fromnorthern Brazil. As late as 1912, Angel Gallardo, a well-knownzoologist, published a note about what the ant Linepithema humile(he uses the old name Iridomyrmex humilis) had done in hisgarden. It erradicated every single ant within a radius of 200 m,with the exception of a few Solenopsis species, too small for L.humile workers to get into their tunnels. Since the common speciesof Solenopsis ("red ants") are about the same size of L. humile,these small species must be very small indeed.Gallardo tried: Carbon sulphide, boiling water, petroleum (sic),sundry insecticidal powders and oils and- the flame of a solderinglamp passed along the paths. He did not get rid of them. In despair,he began to put out bones from the pot roast (then the staple dietof any red-blooded argentinian) and dropping them in boiling waterwhen full of ants. This does not destroy the queens (they havemany), but it does give a certain perverse satisfaction.I have trouble with L. humile myself, because I trap and rearblowflies in my backyard, and the ants not only attack baits, butthey go absolutely crazy over maggots. I put my jars inside trayswith water. Even then, in warm weather the ants may bridge thewater with their own bodies over a space equivalent to 2-3 antlengths! Whether this is accidental or not, I cannot tell. So now Isquirt some detergent into the water.And as they have a sweet tooth, they pasture their greenfly cattleon my valuable fifty-cent-apiece Impatiens, and make little earthensheepfolds for them, just like in text-books. Can you top that?Home remedy for mosquitoes, passed on by my usual chemist:when she was a kid, they had in their garden a camphor tree andan Eucalyptus saligna tree, and every day her Momma would take acouple of leaves of each and chop them into a saucer as amosquito repellent. I have been told by country policemen that aleafy branch of E. saligna tied to a street light repells the swarms ofinsects which usually go to these u.v. sources.Of course, there is a nomenclatorial mess about E. saligna and E.grandis. Funny thing, when you ask for info about Eucalyptus youfind very little onthese species; globulus and cinerea are the greatthing for perfume industry, but of course saligna/grandis wouldsmell less "sweet" if it contains something stronger than eucalyptol.A 1922 book on Argentine Flora (popular level) mentions a plant, arelative of the Chysanthemum (Asteraceae; then Compositae),called "espanta-mosquito", as it where mosquito-scare. The latinname is given as Conyza procera Desf. or Conyza chilensis Spreng.It is said to be very common; a sprig of it in a room keeps themosquitoes away. I have been unable to track up this species; I didnot find it in the Compositae volume of the Flora of the province ofBuenos Aires. Perhaps a tall tale, perhaps something good passedover. Any suggestions?Serious work has been done on the use of essential oils asrepellents for insects or acari. Extracts of thyme and sage, oil ofcloves and the therpenes D-limonene, alpha-pinene and alpha-terpinene have been mentioned as acaricides. In Italy, a repellentmade up of timol (thyme), eucalyptol (Eucalyptus), menthol (mint)and camphor has been used for the Varroa bee-louse (of course,one cannot spray insecticides into a hive), and I believe that it iscommercially available.One could make a cartoon for real bug fans: some people get rid ofdomestic pests with alpha-pinene, then find themselves pursued bya swarm of amorous pine shoot-borer beetles!Better to stop here.Best regards,AdrianaAdriana OLIVALaboratorio de Entomología forenseMuseo argentino de Ciencias naturalesAv.A.Gallardo 470 (C1405DJR) Buenos AiresARGENTINA
Yes, I think the rule of thumb with oils is 2% max, with soaps (and thecheapest, like $1 a half gallon non-degreaser dishwashing soap may be the best insecticide ever discovered) is a tad below 5% to avoid problems.
Others spray much higher soap combinations, wait a short time (half an hour) then wash it off the plants.I teach a six week, open to the public course in "Pest Insect Control Without Pesticides" at New Mexico State Univ. that covers everything ever considered that I could find including natural control, biological control, and non-chemical alternatives for large and small producers, urban and garden pests, even pet pests. It's getting good responses.
RG Breene III Ph.D.
But be careful:
Are you talking about soaps or detergents? There's a lot of differencein how the plants react. Want to see a hibiscus drop all its leaves?Detergent.There's not a lot of point killing the bugs if you damage the plantyourself.If you're using cooking oil and organic soap, you can pretend toyourself that you are non-"chemical", if not non-violent.You may or may not convince that hibiscus.Anne Kilmersouth florida
>>> I think a lot of the home remedy courses may raise awareness of alternative methods of control. At the end of the day, if such home remedy courses raise awareness of potential harmful effects of indiscriminate use, they have more than half served their purpose.<<<
I disagree. Home study courses and even college courses are biased inthat they routinely focus on the theoretical potential harmful effectsof broadcast pesticide use without also telling students the reasons whysuch use may not be harmful. Thus students walk away with a distortedview of the real world hazards involved.Case in point: Consider the issue of broadcast use of mosquito adulticides.Below is the information the Norfolk County Massachusettes MosquitoControl Project supplies to the public about the high degree of safety ofthe resmethrin insecticide it uses to people, pets and non-target species.Under this a medical school professor explains why resemethrin,sumithrin and malathion are dangerous to people and non-target animals.Which of the two, the County or the Professor is providing the publicwith a balanced appraisal the real world hazards involved in thebroadcast use of mosquito adulticides?_________________________________________________________Norfolk County Massachusettes Mosquito Control Project:The product name of the mosquito adulticide used by theProject is called Scourge. It is a combination of two ingredients,resmethrin and piperonyl butoxide. Resmethrin is a syntheticpyrethroid, and piperonyl butoxide is a synergist (a chemical thatenhances the ability of another), allowing resmethrin to control theadult mosquitoes at a lower concentration. Scourge is mixed witha soybean oil, which is used as a carrier. The ratio of soybean oilto Scourge is 4.5:1. It is sprayed from the truck at 3 ounces per minute,at a vehicle speed of 10 miles per hour. This works out to0.5 ounces of Scourge and oil per acre. The actual amount of resmethrinsprayed over a one acre plot is approximately equal to one fifth of athimble, or about 10 to 15 drops from an eyedropper.This presents a minimal risk to humans, pets and non-target species.The active ingredient in Scourge photo-degrades (breaks down in sunlight)in less than four hours.___________________________________________________________by Michael Gochfeld, Professor of Environmental andCommunity Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson MedicalSchool and School of Public HealthThe reason that my colleagues and I argued against broadcast spraying[of Malathion, Sumithrin and Resmethrin] for mosquito control overNew York City are as follows:1) in broadcast application most of the spray falls on areas where thelikelihood of mosquito-human contact is low. Thus areas with fewmosquitoes but many other non-target species are sprayed, as aredensely populated residential areas where mosquito populations arelow to begin with.2) It is not made clear to the public that these broad-spectrum insecticideskill many other insects besides mosquitoes. These include economicallyvaluable insects such as honeybees, praying mantids and ladybird beetlesas well as conspicuous and attractive species such as butterflies. Suchinsecticides also destroy innumerable less conspicuous insects that areimportant components of biodiversity and are the food for birds andsmall mammals. This, after all, was the message of Rachel Carson's"Silent Spring" published in 1962, that even her detractors recognizeas one of the most influential books of the 20th century.3) Although malathion (an organophosphate) and the synthetic pyrethroidssumithrin (Anvil) and resmithrin (Scourge) have relatively low toxicityto humans and other mammals and birds, they are not innocuous orharmless. People can become sick from exposure to these pesticidesas well as from the so-called "inert ingredients" in which they areapplied Organophosphates such as malathion and pyrethroids reducethe activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase which is essential fornormal nervous system function. This is the mode ofaction by which these pesticides kill insects and harm humans. Forexample, malathion is in the same class of chemicals as the nerve gasessuch as sarin, and workers who produce malathion or blend it into finalproducts as well as those who apply it, if not well-protected, can sufferagitation, sleepy difficulty and weakness, as well as anxiety, forgetfulnessand depression.
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