In the home and garden there are plenty of critters we’d rather not have around. The old attitude was that we’re the top dogs and bugs and vermin must die if they get in our way. These days we have more enlightened attitudes because we understand how living things work in the food chain. House spiders, for example, liv e on the bugs that damage our indoor plants. Extermination methods are often hazardous to humans and pets and are best avoided. Dealing with pests humanely is easy today, with a variety of products available to help.
We can tolerate some creatures around the home and put off others by making sure that the food or habitat they want is not available. Still, there are times when action is needed. Wholesale slaughter is usually not necessary and you can eliminate pests humanely, unless you have a plague, in which case you might need expert help. Don’t DIY with pests like bees and wasps.
The simplest solution for indoor pests like insects is to open windows to chase them out or catch them and deposit them outside. A great aid is an easy to use vacuum catcher. It’s a clear tube with a vacuum action that makes catching and relocating bugs simple.
Humane traps will also catch the odd house mouse or rat without injury. Just place a little peanut butter on the trigger and the trap will close when the rat or mouse steps on it. You can then release them at a park where there are bushes and water nearby. They should be released at night since they do not see well during the day and will need to search for food and shelter right away. Also, make sure to release them within 24 to 48 hours since this is a very stressful experience for them and need to eat and drink, but if for some reason you are not able to do it, you must provide them with a little food and water. Food can be anything from the kitchen like bread, crackers or leftovers which you can just throw inside the cage. For water, you can buy a cheap hamster water feeder from the pet store and place it outside of the cage pointing in. They will learn to use right away…they are very smart little creatures! To prevent a return, make sure all food is in sealed containers. Various essential oils, diluted in water and sprayed in the home, will deter various insects, including spiders.
The same applies outdoors. Rats and slugs might be attracted by your compost pile or garbage containers. A properly sealed compost container will deter rodents, as will making sure you don’t add cooked foods. Slugs and snails can actually help the decomposition process and your compost bin will keep them away from other more precious plants.
Other garden pests can be deterred by companion planting. Different plants, including garlic, marigolds, pelargoniums, mint and tansy repel different types of insect and can be planted in flower beds and vegetable patches as appropriate. Another strategy is to plant trap crops, to attract insect pests away from your priority plants. Mint is supposed to repel rats and mice too. Neem oil is a popular natural product that is a great garden pest repellent or biopesticide.
Mosquitoes are one of the most annoying insect pests. The traditional repellent is citronella oil (from plants in the lemongrass family). Scientific testing has confirmed that it works, but wears off quite fast. If used on the skin to keep mozzies and other insects away it should be reapplied at least once an hour.
Some pests require extermination, but you can still try non-toxic natural remedies for intruders like bed bugs. Unfortunately some are so persistent and contagious (like head lice) that you’ll probably need to hit them hard. Luckily a lot of creatures that we see as pests can be dealt with by adopting preventive measures, using natural repellents and simply relocating them to outdoor locations where they belong. Dealing with pests humanely is often the most sensible, fast and eco-friendly strategy.