7 Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Pests Out of Your Home
Whether it’s a cockroach or spider, most of us shudder at the thought of a bug in the house. Insects might play a critical role in the ecosystem, but most of us would prefer to have our homes bug free. Here are some common bugs and insects found in Australian homes, and some tips on how to get rid of them without using toxic chemicals.
Common bugs and insects
Australia is home to many bugs and insects ranging from ants to the dreaded Funnel Web Spider. These are some of the bugs you’re likely to encounter in your home from time to time:
- Bed bugs
- Wasps and stinging insects
How to get rid of bugs in your home
If you happen to come across a bug, the first thing to remember is not to panic. When it comes to stinging insects such as spiders, it’s of course vital to keep away, but keep in mind that most Australian insects are in fact harmless. There are other things you can do to get rid of bugs if the situation is not so severe that you need to contact a pest-control company.
1. Take it outside or open a window
If you can, release the bug or take it outside with a piece of paper. If it’s a flying bug or insect, open a window and close the door to the room before leaving it for a few minutes. Mostly likely the bug will find its own way out of your home.
2. Keep your home clean
Dirty kitchens with rotting food are tempting to bugs like cockroaches and ants. Keep your kitchen immaculate and clean up immediately after spilling drinks or dropping food. Food waste should be bagged and taken outside as soon as possible. If that’s impractical to do, use a lidded kitchen bin.
3. Manage your garden
A healthy, thriving garden is a good defence against insect infestation. If you think your garden is sending bugs your way and into your house, take preventative measures. For example, minimising insect habitats by keeping your garden clean of debris and weeds can reduce the number of insects on your property. Watering earlier in the day keeps your garden dry and reduces the risk of fungal damage on plants, which means fewer insects.
4. Seal up entry points
Even a small hole can be a great highway for bugs and insects. Do some investigating around your home and identify any gaps or holes. Look for gaps around windows, door frames, vents, and piping. Use silicone caulk or non-toxic sealant or filler to close up these gaps. For the gap under doors, install door sweeps.
5. Use glue traps
Non-toxic glue traps are a convenience and inexpensive way to get rid of bugs. Leave these around your house, targeting problem areas, and you’ll be able eliminate many bugs in this way.
6. Make a natural bug spray
You can make your own inexpensive and healthful natural bug spray. As a whole, homes tend to use more store-bought pesticides than farms, and this leads to wildlife poisonings. You can use these in your garden and spray them in your house to deter bugs:
- Mites and aphids – One tablespoon of olive oil, a few drops of non-toxic dishwashing liquid, and about one litre of water.
- Mosquitoes – Mix crushed Thai lemongrass in water and allow to sit for an hour or so. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. This can be used on the skin (do a test patch first) or sprayed around the home to deter mosquitoes.
- Cockroaches – Borax can be mildly irritating for humans but is toxic to cockroaches. You can add sugar to the borax to poison cockroaches. If there are children or pets in the home, diatomaceous earth is the better option. To use diatomaceous earth, leave it in your carpet or other problem areas for 48 hours before vacuuming. Another cockroach deterrent is catnip spray, which can be made by boiling catnip in water for 15 minutes. Spray the cooled mixture around problem areas.
- Ants – Ants are attracted to dog food, scraps, and food crumbs. Deter them by lining problem areas with baking soda, which is non-toxic for pets and humans.
- Fruit flies – Around your bin or other problem areas leave a small jar filled with a few centimetres of apple cider vinegar and several drops of dishwashing liquid. This mixture traps fruit flies, so expect to see a jar of dead flies after a day or two.
- Flies – Leave skins from citrus fruits around the house, as flies don’t like citrus. You can also buy non-toxic citrus sprays or make you own spray from crushed mint and water.
- All bugs and insects – You can use a garlic and pepper insect spray to deter any type of insect, but do take extra care when using it around the home because the spray causes skin and eye irritation. To make it, puree one garlic bulb and one small onion, and mix with one teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper in one litre of water. Allow the mixture to sit before an hour before straining. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and mix well before using. The mixture can be kept for up to one week in the fridge.
7. Install a retractable fly screen
There is no better deterrent for unwanted pests than a retractable fly screen. These screens have a proven track record of keeping creepy crawlies out of your home. The added bonus is that their sleek and sophisticated design makes retractable fly screens not only a great way to control pests, but an eye pleasing aesthetic for your home.