Indoor pests

Page - January 7, 2007

Ants: Locate the place of entry, squeeze a lemon onto it and leave the peel. Ants will also retreat from lines of talcum powder, chalk, bone meal, charcoal dust and cayenne pepper.

Cockroaches: Plug all small cracks along baseboards, wall shelves, cupboards and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures. For a trap, you can try lightly greasing the inner neck of a milk bottle and putting a little stale beer or a raw potato in it.

Fruit flies: Pour a small amount of beer into a wide-mouth jar. Put a plastic bag across the mouth of the jar with a rubber band. Poke a small hole in the bag. Flies will enter through the hole and not be able to find their way out again. Change the beer when necessary.

Flies: Sunny windows are flies' most common entrance into your home, so close windows before the sun hits them. Use regular sticky flypaper to catch unwelcome flying guests. You can make your own with honey and yellow paper.

Moths: Keep vulnerable clothes clean, dry and well aired - moths are attracted to your body's oils on the clothing. Camphor can be used, as it is the major, non-toxic, ingredient of moth balls. To trap moths, mix 1 part molasses with 2 parts vinegar and place it in a margarine or yogurt container. Clean regularly. Cedar chips or black pepper also work well as all-natural moth deterrents. Cedar chips can be placed in cloth bags and hung in the closet or placed in drawers.

House plant pests: Blend 2 or 3 very hot peppers, 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic in water, boil, steep for two days and strain. Used as a spray, this liquid is good for indoor and outdoor plants and can be frozen for future use. Also try spraying 2 Tbsp (30 ml) liquid soap, or 5 grams dry soap, diluted in 1 litre of water. Remember to spray with fresh water a few days afterwards (the shower can be used for this).

Silverfish: Traps can be made with a mixture of 1 part molasses to 2 parts vinegar. Place near cracks and holes where pests live. Silverfish can be repelled by treating baseboards, table legs and cracks in cupboards with a mixture of borax and sugar or honey.

Spiders: Under ideal conditions, do not kill spiders because they help to control pests.

Stored food pests: Keep mites and moths out of your staples by drying food in a warm oven for one hour or by freezing for 2-3 days. Always store food in air tight containers.

Weevil's favourite foods are beans and grains. To keep weevils away, hang small cloth sacks of black pepper in your food bins or around your food storage area. A few soap berries per bushel of stored wheat will also drive out weevils.

Ticks and fleas: If your pets are infested, wash them well with soap and warm water, dry them thoroughly and use this herbal rinse: Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) of fresh or dried rosemary to a litre of boiling water. Steep 20 minutes, strain, and allow to cool to body temperature. Spray or sponge evenly onto pet and allow to air dry. Do not towel down as this will remove the residue. Make sure pets are dry before letting them outside.

Alternatively, use a commercial shampoo containing penny royal regularly. To prevent infestations, add brewer's yeast and garlic to your pets' meals.

Mosquitoes: Preventative measure: if you have a rainwater tank, pour 1/2 cup paraffin oil into the tank. This will stop mosquitoes breeding. There are a number of herbal products on the market containing ingredients such as citronella, lavender and tea tree oil to keep mosquitoes at bay. Or you can simply rub yourself with crushed leaves of basil, mint, chamomile or tansy.