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Get Rid of those Pesty Ants, Cockroaches & Fleas - The Natural Way

written by: Rose Kivi•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/8/2012

Bright Hubs gives tips on controlling and eliminating pests commonly found in homes, using natural DIY pest control methods.

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    Ants

    Ant - Image Copyright: Steve Jurvetson / http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/70704300 With thousands of ants in a colony, an ant infestation can feel overwhelming. Ants enter a home seeking food, water and shelter. Your house is the ideal spot to meet an ant colony's needs. There are many natural DIY pest control methods you can use to get rid of ants in your home.

    One way to get rid of ants is to use neem seed oil and coconut oil soap mixture. The active compound in neem, azadirachin, disrupts the molting process of larva, interferes with sexual communication and mating behaviors in adults. Coconut oil based soap is the best type of soap for soap-based pest control, according to the University of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Home Economics. To make a neem seed oil and coconut oil soap ant spray, mix 1-tbsp neem seed oil, 1-tbsp. coconut oil soap and 10-ounces of water together in a spray bottle. Shake the mixture thoroughly before use. Spray liberally in the area of ant infestation. Note: Neem oil is toxic to bees and fish, so do not use it near bees or natural waterways.

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    Cockroaches

    Cockroach - Image Credit: Joăo Estęvăo A. de Freitas; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cockroach_closeup.jpg Cockroaches do not just happen in dirty homes, they occur in clean homes as well. Cockroaches will go anywhere that food is available. Because cockroaches are prolific breeders, a large infestation can develop quickly. You can naturally eliminate cockroaches using natural traps, baits and powders.

    One way to kill roaches is to place diatomaceous earth in cracks and crevices where the cockroaches have been spotted. Choose an area that is out of the reach of children and pets. The diatomaceous earth gets on the roaches and dissovles their waxy outer covering, which leads to water loss, dehydration and eventual death.

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    Fleas

    Flea - Image Credit: CDC/Janice Haney Carr Fleas torment pets and humans in the home. They breed quickly, infesting a house in no time. Chemical flea products pose dangers to pets and humans. Children are especially sensitive to chemical insecticides, says the Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure to chemical flea products pose serious health risks. There are many chemical flea products on the market, each with their own set of toxicity risks; however chemical insecticides are often endodocrine disrupters and carcinogenic.

    There are several methods you can use to naturally eliminate fleas from your home and in your yard, including releasing flea nematode predators outdoors, combing your pets with a flea comb, sprinkling baking soda and salt on carpets and vacuuming daily, and washing bedding frequently.

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    Garden

    Aphids - Image Credit: Lucis/Public Domain; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aphids.jpg Whether you are growing food or a flower garden, garden pests can quickly destroy your plants. With natural garden insect control methods, you can have a pest-free and non-toxic garden. Introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewigs, hover flies, paper wasps and praying mantises into your garden. Beneficial insects feed on and kill garden pests. Plant plenty of flowers in your garden to keep the beneficial insects around and to attract new ones. The University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program recommends dedicating "five to ten percent of your garden space to growing flowers" to attract beneficial insects.

    Another DIY pest control method is to spray garden pests directly with a natural soapy water pest killer. To make the soapy water pest killer, mix 1-tbsp. of liquid coconut-based soap with 1/2 gallon of water. The soap removes the insect's protective waxes from the body, causing water loss, dehydration and death. The soapy water does not have a residual effect, so reapply often, especially after rain or watering.

    Warning: Do not use more than 1-tbsp. of soap per 1/2 gallon of water. Doing so could harm your plants.

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    Head Lice

    Head Louse - Image Credit: PD-USGOV-HHS-CDC Anyone can get head lice. It is a myth only people with dirty hair get lice. Head lice is common in school-aged children, because children spend a lot of time in close contact with their classmates. Chemical lice insecticides are harmful to humans, especially children. The chemical insecticides may cause detrimental short-term as well as long-term effects in children. Detectable levels of chemical lice insecticides are present in the urine of children who have been treated with them, according to a study published in volume 35, issue 2 of "Environment International." Another problem with chemical lice insecticides is that they do not always work. Lice become resistant to chemical insecticides .

    Natural lice treatment is much safer and it is effective. The National Pediculosis Association recommends combing the hair with a lice comb everyday, until there is no sign of lice and nits, to remove lice and nits from the hair. Combining the use of a lice comb with laundering clothing and bedding in hot water and washing brushes and hair accessories, will completely eliminate lice.

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    Mosquitoes

    Mosquito - Image Credit: James Gathany / CDC Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance, they can spread diseases, including the West Nile Virus, encephalitis and canine heartworm. Repel mosquitoes using natural insecticide sprays containing one or more of the following: cedar oil, cinnamon oil, geranium oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil or rosemary oil. Also, eliminate sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

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    Spiders

    Wolf Spider - Image Credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=3186&picture=wolf-spider Some spiders are poisonous; some spiders are beneficial and help control insect populations. Beneficial or not, most people do not want them in their homes. Chemical pesticides are not only toxic to humans and pets, they are not very effective against spiders, says the Colorado State University Extension. Natural, non-toxic spider removal methods are a much better choice.

    The best DIY pest control method for spiders is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. Seal cracks and openings that lead to the outdoors to prevent spiders from entering the home. Clean up clutter around the house to eliminate hiding spots.

    When you do find a spider, if you have the courage, you can simply pick up non-poisonous spiders and carry them outside. If touching spiders is not for you, place lavender sachets around the house. Lavender is a natural spider repellent.

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    References

    Organic Gardening–Natural Insecticides; University of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Home Economics; July 2005

    University of Connecticut Integrated Pest Management; Neem Based Insecticides; www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/homegrnd/htms/neem.htm

    Bh. Subramanyam, R.P. Wawrzynski; University of Minnesota Extension; Environmentally Conscious Methods of Pest Control In and Around Homes; www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg6269.html

    Environmental Protection Agency; Assessing Health Risks From Pesticides; www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Chemical.jsp?Rec_Id=PC35397

    PAN Pesticides Database - Chemicals; Permethrin; www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Chemical.jsp?Rec_Id=PC35397

    University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program; Beneficial Insects in the Garden; www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/beneficialinsects.html

    W.S. Cranshaw; Colorado State University Extension; Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents; www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05547.html

    Environmental International Volume 35, Issue 2; Pesticide Exposure Resulting from Treatment of Lice Infestation in School-Aged Children in Georgia; Luke P. Naehera et. al.; Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, Atlanta, GA, USA; Feb. 2009 National Pediculosis Association; The No Nit Policy; www.headlice.org/downloads/nonitpolicy.htm#resistanceCenters for Disease Control and Prevention; Mosquito-Borne Diseases; www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/list_mosquitoborne.htm

    Mosquitoes and the Diseases They Transmit; J.A. Jackman, J.K. Olson; Texas Cooperative Extension; 2002

    F.B. Peairs, W.S. Cranshaw, P.E. Cushing; Colorado State University Extension; Spiders in the Home; www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05512.html

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    Image Credits

    Ant - Image Copyright: Steve Jurvetson / http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/70704300

    Cockroach - Image Credit: Joăo Estęvăo A. de Freitas; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cockroach_closeup.jpg

    Flea - Image Credit: CDC/Janice Haney Carr

    Aphids - Image Credit: Lucis/Public Domain; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aphids.jpg

    Head Louse - Image Credit: PD-USGOV-HHS-CDC

    Mosquito - Image Credit: James Gathany / CDC

    Wolf Spider - Image Credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=3186&picture=wolf-spider