Living With Bugs, Part 3 – Choosing Not to Live with Bugs

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Bees are helpful. They pollinate plants, allowing us to have the wide variety of fruits and vegetables we enjoy, some even make honey, and their populations are in decline. If there are bees settled in an inappropriate place, often the colony can be moved. Contact a beekeeper – they can move them, and save these precious workers. Any honey combs will also have to be removed so that the honey doesn’t rot and attract other pests.


file00042072436Wasps, on the other hand, are just annoying and somewhat dangerous and damaging, depending on the type. Search for wasp identification guides for your area for more species-specific removal guidelines. Please approach any of these methods with caution. Wasps can kill.

Possible Remedies:

  1. Traps – Glass traps with syrup inside are said to be effective for small numbers of wasps. The wasp flies up the center of the trap and can’t fly downwards out of it. Make sure to keep replacing the bait to keep the trap effective. There are many homemade variations on this design, some that can be made with two litre plastic pop bottles or other cheap ingredients.
  2. False nests – Hanging false nests (either commercial or a paper bag) is said to be reasonably effective against territorial wasps, preventing them from settling nearby.
  3. Destroying the nest – When wasps decide to make their home in, on, or near your living space, the best way to get rid of the wasps is to destroy the nest. This is best done in the evening, after temperatures cool, or early morning, when wasps are sleepy and less willing to leave their nests. Wear long pants and sleeves, tight enough that wasps can’t fly into your clothing. Get a hose end sprayer and add about 1/4 cup of dish detergent to the reservoir. Get the spray moving strongly and then spray the nest thoroughly, breaking it apart. I do not know if this will work with liquid soap rather than detergent.
  4. Drown the nest – Hanging nests can be drowned. Tie a cloth bag around the nest and tightly close the top. Drop the bag into a bucket of water and drop a rock on top to keep the next down until the wasps are dead.
  5. Professionals – There are many other options available with a brief internet search, but if the wasps are in a wall or some other inaccessible place, you may need to call a pest removal expert.


Ants around North American homes tend to range from large and benign black ants to carpenter ants who damage wood and tiny sidewalk ants in red and black. There are far too many kinds of ants to list here, and each searches for a different food and has different colony habits. Most ants are not specifically harmful to humans or their homes and gardens, but they can be very annoying. If you can adjust where ants live, there is usually no reason to kill them, unless they are damaging structures.

If you want to remove ants, the first step is identifying the type of ant so that you know what they eat and how they live. This guide is just a brief overview for first attempts. Ants want food and shelter. If they don’t find anything to eat, they won’t come in to eat it. If they already have shelter, or if shelter is too hard to find, they’ll go elsewhere.

Possible Remedies:

  1. Housekeeping – Housekeeping is the best way to stop ants. Keep floors clean and foods well-contained (easier said than done when you have a young child). Repair holes and cracks in your foundation (very important for other reasons!) and in brickwork. Keep windows and doors properly caulked. Don’t make it easy to get in. If the ants are already in, kill any single ants you find, so they can’t go back to report to their colony.
  2. Block scent trails – Spray vinegar and water or diluted strong essential oils. These materials are said to prevent the ants from being able to continue to follow scent trails laid out by other ants. This can help stop immediate ant incursions, but scouts will begin looking for food and shelter again, so it’s still important to block their entry point(s).
  3. Earth-based insect incapacitation – Spread a line of chalk or diatomaceous earth around your foundation, doors, and windows. Much like the kaolin described above, diatomaceous earth’s fine particles get in between the exoskeleton pieces of the insect and cause movement to become difficult. I find that the amount I can buy in a single package is never enough to combat the number of bugs I need to deal with.
  4. Hot water – If all else fails, and you can find the colony, pour boiling water and soap down the hole (Danger – Avoid splashing and spilling).

That’s about it for my home pests. Do you have an unwanted pest in your home or yard? What do you do to keep it from causing harm? Share additional methods in the comments section below.

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