14 Jun 2016

They’re pesky things those pests, but keeping them out of your home can be tough, especially if you don’t want to use chemicals.

They’re pesky things those pests, but keeping them out of your home can be tough, especially if you don’t want to use chemicals. Of course, the obvious first tip is keeping a clean house and garden. Pests thrive on dirt, especially food, so make sure all leftovers are quickly put away and all counter tops and surfaces are cleaned regularly. If there is a spill, wipe it up quickly and use warm, soapy water.

Start outside

Pests tend to live outside, so keeping them out sometimes means ensuring the environment close to your home just isn’t that welcoming for the little critters.

Make sure trees and shrubs are well trimmed. Pests generally find their way inside by using tree branches and shrubs to climb up to your windows or doors. Trimming back their route eliminates their ability to come into contact with your home. Also trim underneath trees and bushes. Lower branches and clusters provide great hiding spots for rodents, snakes and other pests so by removing the foliage, you’re making it more difficult for pests to make a home.

Make sure your gutters and downpipes are regularly cleaned and maintained. These are another way for pests to get into your home as it’s a great place for them to build their nests.

Seal all openings around windows and doors. Generally, pests find their way in through cracks in walls or windows so make sure any possible areas where insects may be getting are sealed. It’s also worth having a good look over any fly screens to make sure there are no holes and they are pulled tight against the panes.

Make sure garbage bins are not accessible. The best place to store your outdoor garbage bins is actually indoors! If you have a garage or even a covered alcove, that’s great. If not, make sure the lids are tightly fitted so it’s much harder, if not impossible, for rodents and pests to get inside.

If you have a pet, make sure all pet food is kept inside. The smell of pet food tends to entice pests, especially rodents and cockroaches. Store the food indoors, in tightly sealed containers. When feeding your pet, pop the food in a bowl outside but remember to bring the bowl back in when it’s finished.

Natural remedies

There are plenty of reasons to shun chemicals around the house. While pesticides and other chemicals put an end to the trouble that pests cause, not only do they harm the pest, but they also may harm you. No need to panic though, there are natural remedies that you can make yourself to help keep pests away.

A garlic and chilli spray works on smaller insects such as caterpillars. Combine crushed garlic with chilli, a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a small amount of soap flakes or dishwashing liquid. Leave the mixture to soak overnight, strain it and pop it in a sprayer. Simply spray the mixture on your plants. This doesn’t harm the animal, merely tricks them into thinking the plant is not a habitable environment for them. Just make sure to avoid contact with your skin and keep the spray away from any kids or pets. And also ensure that the soap you’re using will not be harmful to the plants.

Peppermint essential oil is great to deter mice and other rodents. While we think the smell is calming and refreshing, mice find it quite offensive. Simply add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to cotton balls and lay them out strategically around the home. Whenever you notice the smell is fading, simply change the cotton balls.

You can also use essential oils to ward off spiders. Citrus is great on entry points for spiders like cracks in the walls, doorframes or window frames. If you don’t have any citrus oil on hand, spiders also don’t like lemon, so mix up some lemon juice with water and spray this on entry points. Other oils that are great for spider control include peppermint, tea tree, citronella, eucalyptus and lavender.

Vinegar is also a great pest control solution. Apple cider vinegar tends to be the most effective, however if you don’t have any on hand, any white vinegar will do. Dilute the vinegar with water and spray it around the house. The corners and entry points are the most important so make sure to pay special attention to those.

Oranges help keep away ants, cockroaches and other bugs. Mix a bottle of orange essential oil with half a litre of water. Let the mixture settle and then boil it up. Filter the solution into a spray bottle and spray over plants. This will keep the pests off your plants and ultimately out of your house.