Spring is almost here, and with all the nice weather and colorful flowers comes an onslaught of pests and intruders that will want to make your home and plants their home. Small critters such as roaches, spiders, flies, termites and even rodents look at your possessions as a nice cozy place to call home.
Many of us have regular pest control services that check and spray, but most of us usually only take action when things are spotted. In an environmental sense, this is the best approach because you are not spraying potentially harmful chemicals needlessly. Better yet, you might want to try some natural methods of pest control first.
You have to remember that the insecticide in that one-gallon jug you got from the store works by absorbing into the body of the insect and killing them by attacking the nervous system. That very same chemical can also absorb through the skin of the human user. In very small quantities you probably will not see any marked symptoms, but over time these chemicals can be stored in the body and cause damage years later.
When using pest control products, always follow label directions and use gloves and a protective mask.
Spring not only brings May flowers, it is also the beginning of the termite swarming season. Any home can get termites, not just wooden structures. These damaging pests can cause thousands of dollars of damage if they find a way into your home. If they are already have invaded your structure, it is always best to call a professional. There are things you can do, however, to minimize your risk and try to keep the pests out.
There are many ways you can help prevent termites from invading your structure. One way is to be sure your home is painted and any wood parts on your home are painted over completely. You should never allow any wood products form a bridge between your house and the soil. In addition, try not to allow bushes or shrubs to touch the main structure of the house. Repair all cracks you see in the foundation or siding. Inspect them every season for signs of termites. Always remove branches of trees that overhang your structure as this can provide an entry point.
I have heard of many natural treatments for termites, but I have not tested them One such treatment is using Aloe plants. You simply crush the plants and add about five parts water. You can then allow the mixture to "steep" for a day or so. Strain the mix before applying with a sprayer. If you are spraying the perimeter, it is always a good idea to part some of the dirt away from the foundation before spraying the mix. I have also heard you can use castor oil in the same manner.
Another huge nuisance during the spring season, or anytime, is the roach. No matter how clean you keep a residence, they still may find your home a nice cozy place to reside. Again, usually the first thing we go for when we see a roach is the chemical in the gallon jug.
Before using the heavy artillery you might want to try keeping the pests out by using catnip. Place the catnip in small sachet bags and place them in strategic places throughout the house. The roaches hate it and it just might solve your problem.
One of the oldest methods is to use boric acid as a killing agent. You can mix some sugar with the boric acid to attract the bugs to it and once they eat it or get it on their legs and body, they will transfer it back to the nest. Remember that boric acid can be toxic to humans if ingested so keep away from children and pets. You can also use baking soda in the same fashion.
That's all for this week, but in a future column I will be talking about spiders and ants and the best ways to help prevent and kill them in the least toxic way possible.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site www.hometowngarden.com.