We all want our homes and gardens free from unwanted insects. However, if you're a pet owner, have children or are generally concerned about your health, using pesticides and other harmful chemicals to control pests is a less-than desirable option. Fortunately, there are many natural solutions to pest control that won't harm you, your pets or your family as well as plenty of information available online allowing you to research the best solution for your particular household.
Research "Pet-Friendly" Pest Control Products
There are many pest control products on the market that contain pet- and child-friendly, non-toxic ingredients. These products are available for purchase online or at your local hardware store and contain ingredients such as lemongrass, citrus oils and eucalyptus that are natural solutions to pest control. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is also a very popular pet-safe solution to ridding your home and yard of such pests as fleas, spiders, beetles and earwigs. Just make certain that you use food-grade diatomaceous earth rather than "pool grade," which is used for swimming pool filtration.
During your search, keep in mind that even though a product touts itself as being "pet friendly," or "natural," you should ALWAYS research that product to find out whether there are cases of it having caused ill effects in pets in the past. For example, pest-control products that contain a "bittering" agent which supposedly stops pets from ingesting it may not work on pets that are quite happy chowing down on bitter things. This is why bitter apple spray repellent doesn't work for a number of dog and cat owners. Also, many natural products and home remedies may appear to be safe, but substances that are relatively safe to humans are not safe to animals. For example, the use of beer, garlic, and/or coffee grounds to rid a garden of snails and slugs is not a safe practice for those who own pets.
Kill Mosquitos without the Chemicals
As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes begin to surface. For hot summer nights free from mosquitoes, try placing a bowl of maple syrup or brown sugar and water in a saucer. Mosquitoes will be attracted to the natural sugars in the mixture and stick to the contents.
If this doesn't appeal to you try an insect lamp or "bug zapper." These lamps attract mosquitoes using ultraviolet light and electrocute them when they get close to the lamp. Mosquito lamps are a great chemical-free way to control mosquitoes, but should be used with caution as with any other electrical device.
Control Ants with Soap and Water
To kill ants, try mixing three tablespoons of non-toxic dish soap with 16 ounces of hot water in an empty spray bottle. Mix the contents and spray where ant population is most prevalent. If ant hills are visible, use a garden hose to remove the hills. Although ants may return eventually, continuously spraying the hills with water is a relatively quick process and is guaranteed not to harm your dog or family. Additionally, ants which congregate on decks, outdoor patios or concrete can be eliminated using a garden hose and dish or laundry detergent.
Introduce Pest-Controlling Insects into Your Garden
Introducing other species of insects into your garden is a great pet-friendly, non-toxic way to control certain garden pests. You can purchase live ladybugs at your local garden center to control aphids or introduce praying mantis eggs to control a variety of insect populations. Introducing other species of insects not only controls garden pests, but also contributes to your garden's ecosystem without risking the health of your dog, family or the environment.
Call a Pet-Friendly Exterminator
For more serious pest control problems, try calling an extermination company and asking them about their pet- and environmentally friendly options. Most commercial exterminators will have pet-friendly options available and are the best resource for discussing ingredients, processes and extermination plans.
By Leah Vlemmiks
About the Author
Leah Vlemmiks began writing professionally in 2011. She is a designer and artist with a passion for advertising, branding and graphic design. Vlemmiks holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is currently completing her post-degree training in branding and design. She loves to share her passion for all things creative and interesting through her writing.