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Pest Control, the Old Fashioned Way

Julia Earl
Preventing Harm Minnesota

Pests seek three basic things—the same things we humans do: shelter, food and water. If you deprive them of those things, they won’t take up residence in your residence! Before the advent of toxic aerosol sprays and poisons post World War II, many people used passive and more natural means to control pests by deterring and preventing their entry. This article identifies some of those helpful and less toxic methods that are just as effective today.

To keep insect and rodent pests at bay follow these simple action steps without the use of harmful chemicals:

  • Keep your home clean and pests away from food and water.
  • Clean up spills and crumbs right away with soap and water.
  • Store food in air tight containers. Glass mason jars work great for sugar, rice, flour, oats, beans, etc.
  • Clip chip bags shut with clothes pins or binder clips.
  • Clip pet food bags closed and even put pet food bowls away over night to avoid a big old cockroach party at Fluffy’s bowl.
  • Check for leaky pipes under the kitchen and bathroom sink and repair them.
  • Check for moisture accumulation in the basement. Eliminate water’s entry and use a dehumidifier.
  • Store firewood away from the house. It’s a great habitat for pests.
  • Keep trash covered (inside and out).
  • Pick up newspapers, magazines & mail.

Prevent Entry into Your Home:

  • Repair holes in screens with inexpensive screen repair kits from the hardware store.
  • Caulk around the foundation of the building with a simple caulking gun and caulk filling crevices and gaps.
  • Repair holes in roofing to avoid bats, squirrels, etc.
  • Pull apart and strategically place copper scrubbing pads around pipe entrances from the outside to the basement (mice and rats don’t like the feel.)
  • Use passive pest control vs. poisons
  • For mice use mousetraps with strong, quick springs.
  • Use cockroach hotels with glue (i.e. sticky traps).
  • Use a flyswatter in the house.
  • Use steam treatments or sub-zero temperatures to eradicate bed bugs.

Alternative Pest Control Methods

A variety of non-profit organizations concerned about the health and environmental effects of pesticides suggest a variety of additional strategies only after prevention has failed. Beyond Pesticides suggests the use of boric acid or diatomaceous earth to kill cockroaches. Spray ants, and where they have been with soapy water. Flood their nests outside with soapy or boiling water. Check the website noted above for further guidelines.

Health and Environment

Preventive and non-toxic pest control strategies are not only better for the environment and your wallet, but also human health. Serious, significant human health impacts which include : cancer, learning and behavior disabilities, reproductive health disorders and asthma all have documented links with pesticide use. Please see the resource box for more information on this topic.

Roll up your sleeves and prevent pests from getting into your home, enjoying the conditions there and staying. Use non-toxic pest control methods for the environment, human health and your budget. Bring any existing poisons to the household hazardous waste site in your area.

Read Up

“Managing Pests Without Toxic Pesticides,” by California Healthy Schools, calhealthyschools.org/PDFs/ManagingPestsWithoutToxicPesticides.pdf

“Cockroach and Ant Prevention,” beyondpesticides.org
Search for:
—“Least-toxic control of pesticides PDF”
—“Controlling your ants in your home PDF”

Pest Control

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