What about the bugs I don’t want in the home?

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

June 16, 2008

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Categories: The Balancing Act

Or, another way to ask would be… what do we do about those pests, naturally? How do we get rid of pests, naturally? What is a natural remedy for pests?

Every summer, we get ants. Here in the Pacific Northwest, Willamette Valley, after the mild winter has gone, on that first warm, sunny day; the ants come out to play. I have lived here for five years in four different places in three areas of Portland (SE, SW, N), and only one home was ant-free. Every other place had the same problem at the same time of year, that first nice day in spring the ants come out.

It’s always difficult to discern where they originate. Toxic solutions didn’t work. An environmentally-friendly professional didn’t work. And, my mother’s old trick of cayenne pepper didn’t work. So, how to get rid of these pests is a question that comes up often. And, when you consider pets and small children who don’t know that something is bad and they shouldn’t touch it, the desire for natural solutions is greater.

Some basic web research yielded these results:

  • Talcum baby powder sprinkled along the ants trail
  • Bay leaves (you know, that soup ingredient, laurel leaves) whole placed in a row where the ants go
  • Vinegar (white distilled) in a spray bottle or vinegar & soap in a spray bottle sprayed along the trail where the ants go, let dry and wait
  • Black or cayenne pepper sprinkled in a row where the ants are found

Since cayenne pepper didn’t work here for me, I was skeptical of the bay leaves, we don’t own large quantities of talcum powder, the vinegar solution was for me. Trial and error taught me to fill the spray bottle nearly full with vinegar (I started with 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar) and a big squirt of soap. I use Ecover’s Dishwashing Soap (you know if you wash dishes by hand). Now, when I see ants, I spray the area they are found with this concoction, and the ants disappear for several weeks. I have had to go back to the bottle since April, but they have ceased to be the annoying pests I usually think of them to be.

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