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Friday, March 8, 2013

Ward off Insects

Ants :
The first line of defense is to remove the attractants: keep counters free of crumbs and sticky spots. Cover the sugar and put the honey jar in a plastic baggie. Cut off water sources such as drips or dishes left soaking overnight. 
      If the ant invaders persist,
     try these simple measures:
 Keep a small spray bottle handy, and spray the ants with a bit of soapy water.
Set out cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants' point of entry. Many ants have a natural aversion to cucumber. Bitter cucumbers work best.
Leave a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active. Dry, crushed mint leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.
Trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, citrus oil (can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds.
Mix one litre of water, one teaspoon of Borax and a cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them in a small yogurt container with holes punched in the lids to allow ants access. Place container in a location where ants are present. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies where it will eventually kill the colony. Important: use indoors only; must be kept away from pets and children.
Leave a small, low wattage night light on for a few nights in the area of most ant activity. The change in light can disrupt and discourage their foraging patterns.
Ants on the deck? Slip a few cut up cloves of garlic between the cracks.
     Dust Mites

Microscopic dust mites are everywhere in the home - in our beds, clothing, furniture, book shelves and stuffed animals. For people with allergies or asthma, dust mites are a problem.

Here's how to reduce the dust mite population in your home:
Vacuum mattresses and pillows. For people with sensitivities to dust mite allergens, dust mite bedding is available with zippered, allergen-impermeable encasings designed to block dust mites.
Wash bedding at 55 degrees Celsius (130F) or higher. Detergents and commercial laundry products have no effect on mites unless the water temperature is high.
Keep books, stuffed animals, throw rugs and laundry hampers out of the bedroom of allergy sufferers. Wash stuffed animals occasionally in hot water.
Tannic acid neutralizes the allergens in dust mite and animal dander. Dust problem areas with tannic acid powder, available at health food stores and pet centers.
Cover mattress and pillows with laminated covers which prevent penetration by dust mites. Avoid fabric-covered headboards.
Cover heating ducts with a filter which can trap tiny dust particles smaller than 10 microns.
Avoid using humidifiers. Dust mites thrive on warmth and humidity.


The best defense against cockroaches is a clean kitchen and bathroom. If roaches are a problem in your home or apartment, vacuum well and wash the area with a strong soap. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed container.
Also try:
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Catnip is a natural repellent to cockroaches. The active ingredient is nepetalactone, which is non-toxic to humans and pets. Small sachets of catnip can be left in areas of cockroach activity. Catnip can also be simmered in a small amount of water to make a "catnip tea" which can be used as a spray to apply around baseboards and behind counters. This natural repellent should only be used in homes without cats!
 Keep a spray bottle of soapy water on hand. Spraying roaches directly with soapy water will kill them.
In an empty one pound coffee can, place 1 or 2 pieces of bread which have been soaked thoroughly with beer. Place in areas known to have roach infestations.
It is a little known fact that roaches like high places. If you put boric acid on TOP of your kitchen cabinets (not inside), if space allows between ceiling and cabinets, the roaches will take the boric acid to their nests, killing all of them. Boric acid is toxic by mouth - keep away from children and pets.
Leave bay leaves, cucumber slices or garlic in the affected area as deterrents.


The first line of defense against mosquitos is to seal their point of entry. Mosquitos are most active in the early morning and early evening. They seek areas of still air because they are hampered by breezes. Close windows and doors on the side of your house which are opposite the breeze. Then try:
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The most important measure you can take is to remove standing water sources. Change birdbaths, wading pools and pet's water bowl twice a week. Keep your eaves-troughs clean and well-draining. Remove yard items that collect water.
If you're using the barbeque, throw a bit of sage or rosemary on the coals to repel mosquitos.
An effective natural bug repellent, mix one part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts for an effective repellent lasting up to 5 - 6 hours. Strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in this mixture and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent.
Neem oil is a natural vegetable oil extracted from the Neem tree in India. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the Neem tree contain sallanin, a compound which has effective mosquito repelling properties. Neem oil is a natural product and is safe to use.
Planting marigolds around your yard works as a natural bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects do not like.

Safe, nontoxic pheromone-based mosquito traps are now commercially available.
For broad application outdoor mosquito control, electric mosquito traps are commercially available. These traps do not use chemicals or propane gas.

Thai lemon grass
(Cymbopogon citratus) is a natural and effective mosquito repellent. It contains the natural oil, citronella, which is safe and effective; in fact, lemon grass citronella is considered more effective than true citronella as an insect repellent.                   
You can buy Thai lemon grass at garden centers and supermarkets, and it grows readily into a clump about 15" across and about 2ft tall. To use as a mosquito repellent, break a stalk off from the clump, peel off the outer leaves, until you find the scallion-like stem at the base. Bend the stem between your fingers, loosening it, then rub it vigorously between your palms - it will soon become a pulpy, juicy mass. Rub this over all exposed skin, covering thoroughly at least once. You can also make a tincture using alcohol, for spray applications.

Plantings around the patio will also help repel mosquitoes.

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