Living With Bugs, Part 2 – Choosing Not to Live with Bugs

I spoke on Friday about living with insect pests around my home, and which ones were helpful, indifferent, and harmful. While a slight change of attitude towards insects can help you live more comfortably with some of the denizens who inhabit the walls and floors of your home, today I talk about pesticide-free ways to get rid of common pests.

One of the best ways to ward off many of the indoor pests is good housekeeping. Dust and sweep or vacuum regularly, making sure to clean inside cupboards, drawers and under sinks. The internet is full of solutions for safer pest removal, and some of them even work. Use any of these methods at your own risk. If you do not feel you can handle removal safely by yourself, please call a professional.



Silverfish and Similar

These pests like damp and warm environments, so can often be found in bathrooms, crawlspaces, and attics.

Possible Remedies:

  1. Borax and powdered sugar mixture – The bugs are attracted to the sugar but eat the borax, too, killing them. Borax powder isn’t good to breathe into your lungs, but if you can place it in an unused corner of your home that the bugs will find and you won’t, it’s a great option. This mixture kept these bugs at bay for about three years in our house, when placed in the far back corner of our crawlspace, in the crack between the floor and the wall. I think we need another application.
  2. Traps – Wrap a jar or glass with tape. The bugs can climb into the jar via the tape but can’t escape up the smooth walls of the container.


Japanese beetles

Brown, iridescent beetles which emerge from the ground in the late spring to mate and eat. They are usually found on the leaves of green plants, where they eat the vegetative material in between the veins.

Possible Remedies:

  1. Pheromone lures – The lure pads are placed on an x-shaped divider that holds the hourglass-shaped bag open. The entire contraption is hung from a branch or post. The beetles are attracted to the mating pheromones, try to land, and fall into the bag, where they’re trapped and die over time.
  2. Kaolin clay – When mixed with water and sprayed on the tree’s leaves, the clay settles and dries. The theory says that when beetles try to eat the leaves, the clay clogs up their mouth parts and prevents them from eating so that they eventually die. The clay, once dried, will last on the leaves for up to a month, even with rain. I tried this as an early attempt at Japanese beetle control. It was capable of dealing with a small number of beetles but failed to stop the main swarm. I fear this one probably failed because I was unwilling to spray it on my vegetables.

I will continue on Monday with the wrap-up, part three on getting rid of pests without harmful chemicals.

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