- Organic Gardening
Non Toxic Pest Control
Environmentally friendly ways to get rid of, control and eliminate pests and vermin
Every animal and plant has its enemies and parasites. There is no exception. As we are part of nature, we have our own enemies, pests and parasites that like to use us for a free ride or as a food source. Whether we are talking about plants, microbes, insects, reptiles or mammals, there are some we would not rather have in our presence or living with or on us. There is a reason why most people have a strong aversion to entities like spiders, snakes and rats. This is ingrained into our unconscious so that we have an instinctive reaction when buzzed by something like a hornet, or shriek and jump at the sight of a mouse or spider. We have developed evolved a host of sophisticated and poisonous weapons that can be as harmful to us as the intended target. However, life has evolved defensive techniques of its own in dealing with natural enemies and these are the tactics we can adopt to our uses in order to ward off and eliminate vermin without risking our own health and the health of the environment.
You do not have to engage in chemical warfare and endanger the health of your family or yourself to control and eliminate insect pests and other vermin from your home. What you do need is the knowledge of which pest you are dealing with and how to effectively deal with that particular pest. Each pest, whether cockroaches, fleas, bed bugs, wasps, ants, mice, rats, raccoons or rabbits have their own particular habits, likes and dislikes. They all have natural enemies and situations they cannot overcome. And this is what you need to know.
Each pest is well known and a wealth of information exists for them. Research on line or at the local library. For most insects, the use of insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, borax, lavender oil or a preparation made from marigold and chrysanthemum are effective. Bay leaves are reported to be effective against bedbugs. You can use the powdered form sprinkled in their favorite hiding sites. With insect enemies, you will need to engage in a rigorous program of control as the eggs that are laid by the females are impervious to just about anything. Some suggestions are detailed for a few pests below.
For flea control, you need to eliminate them from your cats and dogs. Visit your veterinarian and obtain "The Program" or like treatment for flea control. The Program contains an alkaloid that interferes with the development of chitin; the exoskeleton material of insects. Without this, they are vulnerable and die of dehydration. The Program is harmless to pets and children and lasts for six months.
Bedbugs require a special muti-faceted program. The use of furniture isolation from walls, application of petroleum jell on legs, the application of diatomaceous earth around wall to floor trim and electrical outlets, bagging anything freshly washed and not needed for immediate use and the use of extreme heat and cold is effective. Bay leaves are something that repels bedbugs and can be used to keep them at bay. This program must be enforced rigorously as bedbugs are hard to eliminate. However, they can be controlled without chemical warfare.
Mice are opportunists and very destructive, seeking what they can devour where they can find it. Mice bore into walls from the outside and tunnel between the exterior and interior of walls. They are known to start fires by chewing through electrical wires, setting off sparks which ignite flammable material. It is hard to remove infestation once established. A cat that is a good mouser should be a welcome addition to the home. Trained properly, it will eat what it catches. As for things like flour, cereal, grains, bread, pasta and the like, store all of this in metal or glass containers. Use glue traps in hidden out of the way places where the cat can't reach. If you use flue traps and catch a live mouse, you can use this to train a cat. The foregoing also applies to rats with the exception that they can chew through metal. As rats sometimes grow to the size of a small domestic cat, you will need to consider a larger breed of cat like a Maine Coon.
Rats exist everywhere man lives. They are on land and sea and live virtually everywhere in the world except the high Arctic and Antarctica. Rats are carriers of bubonic and pneumonic plague and have been implicated in the spread of devastating historic pandemics. Rats thrive in filthy conditions, so it pays to be clean. To control and eliminate rats, at least in your home and yard, you may want to employ the help of natural predators like rat snakes and large cats.
Some people have to deal with raccoons that are opportunistic scavengers. Raccoons get into garbage, ravage gardens and get into attics. They have been known to take on cats and kill them. Raccoons are subject to getting rabies; something you do not want to get yourself. Raccoons are generally larger than a domestic cat, so you will need a dog, especially one that is trained to be a "coon dog".
The solutions are not restricted to the home, but also apply in the yard and garden. There are natural ways to deal with garden pests such as aphids, white-flies, cut-worms, rabbits, gophers and a host of others, We will be looking at a variety of solutions for many circumstances in this article and related ones. Let us begin our examination of solutions beginning with a resurgent nasty problem concerning bed bugs.
A Method of Heating Your Entire Living Quarters is a Promising Way to Eliminate Bedbugs.
Natural Control and Elimination of Bedbugs: What to Know and Look For
Dealing with bedbugs is like any other battle with an enemy. First you have to know your enemy, both their strengths and their weaknesses in order to deal with them effectively. This guide will approach knowing the enemy and base a strategy of how to deal with them founded on our knowledge. Bedbugs are furtive by nature, preferring to come out during the nocturnal hours just like the classic vampire of legend. They prefer their hosts to be in a state of unconsciousness so they can feed at will as it takes them about 15 minutes to obtain a blood meal. As a rule, when they have fed, they are easily killed; much more so than when they are lean and hungry. They measure from 3/8th inch (9 mm) as a full grown adult to barely visible as a new hatchling. Bedbugs have six stages of life from egg, four nymph stages and the breeding adult. Bedbugs are wingless crawling insects that are flattish and oval in appearance and can be light brown to almost black depending on whether they are fed or not. Often you will not know of an infestation until you feel a bite or see a fleeing, blood gorged insect.
Bedbugs have been around for a long time, and it is not too well known when they evolved and started cohabiting with humans, but it is likely when people started leading more sedentary lives like those who practiced agriculture and built cities. They can travel well, hidden in clothing, bedding, furniture, suitcases, mobile homes and are found worldwide including in five star hotels. At this point, the infestation in the developed world is endemic; that is, they are everywhere and not just confined to skid row. Since DDT was banned, they have made a comeback. Though many argue that they are not a vector of pathogens and disease, there is reasonable doubt, especially where blood born disease is concerned and that covers a lot of territory. With current understanding, handling of blood requires a strict isolation protocol, so think likewise, especially when helping a friend, or doing contract work. Minimize exposure to blood other than your own! Also, there are people who are hemophiliac and those for reasons of high blood pressure that are on blood thinning drugs. These people are at greater risk too.
Bed bugs are not averse to feeding anywhere where they can get a blood meal. Bed bugs feed by piercing skin with an elongated beak. Saliva is injected that contains an anesthetic to reduce pain, and an anticoagulant to keep blood flowing. Even with this, some people will feel bites, especially from the young nymphs as they don't have much saliva due to their diminutive size. Unfed nymphs are virtually invisible until fed. The reaction to bed bug bites varies among individuals, from no reaction to severe skin inflammation, itching and irritation, sometimes up to nine days after. Skin reactions are commonly associated with bed bugs, which result from the saliva injected during feeding. Some individuals do not react to their bite, whereas others note a great deal of discomfort often with loss of sleep from the persistent biting. The most commonly affected areas of the body for most folk are the arms and shoulders. Other areas are not immune, especially if you sleep in the buff in hot weather. Reactions to the bites may be delayed by up to 9 days before any lesions appear. Common allergic reactions include the development of large wheals that are often more than one cm wide, accompanied by itching and inflammation. The wheals usually subside to red spots but they can last for several days. Scratching may cause the welts to become infected, so using an anti itch lotion is a good strategy. Bilious eruptions have been reported in association with multiple bed bug bites and anaphylaxis may occur in patients with severe allergies. In India, iron deficiency in infants has been associated with severe infestations and India can get pretty hot. It is suspected that allergens from bed bugs may be associated with asthmatic reactions. Severe infestations can develop rapidly in America too and can be associated with sudden onset anemia.
Feeding by bedbugs takes ten to fifteen minutes, which is why they prefer and unconscious host. Usually, they will feed where they can make a quick get away if they have too and they can move fast for their tiny size. They will feed where they can reach you from bed clothing that is in contact with any exposed flesh. Every time there is a new hatching, there will be a sharp increase in symptoms and bites as newborn nymphs have to feed almost immediately on hatching. Bedbugs have been known to feed behind ears, in ear canals and even inside the nose. No part of the body is immune. They tend to concentrate near the bed area, cracks and crevices in floors, wall base trim, electrical outlets, books, CDs, DVDs, carelessly handled clothes and in shoes. If you find that your clothes are itchy to wear, then they likely have hitch hikers that have a dark enclosed space to feed even in day. When you visit friends and family, you'll likely leave some behind to their later consternation.
For those at risk of bleeding for reasons mentioned, a badly placed bedbug bite can trigger a major nosebleed while you sleep and you might wake up to a blood soaked pillow and a state of blood loss light headedness, known as a minor hypovolemic incident. Bites in other areas for hemophiliacs and those on blood thinners can cause a lot of blood loss as well. People with HIV or hepatitis C can be a risk to others if infected blood comes in contact with them and poor hygiene is practiced. Bedbug problems are thus not entirely risk free.
Bedbugs are persistent, so to get rid of them will require persistence, thoroughness and a rigorous approach. Bed bugs, especially the hatchling nymphs, can hide in extremely small cracks and crevices making it difficult to locate resting and breeding sites. Often bedbugs like to congregate in large groups in secure and secret places to mate and rest. When this happens, you will likely find the span of the stages of growth. Bed bugs are rarely seen in daylight, though this is not absolute. A hungry bedbug will risk a daylight run. They can crawl up walls and drop on you from above, though this is rare, and have been seen to jump small gaps, though not more than a centimeter. They most often emerge from their hiding spots at night and feed. Bed bugs can live a year or longer without blood and thus stay in their hiding places for prolonged periods. Some will winter over this way if the temperature does not drop below freezing for more than 27 days. This is especially true of eggs that are almost impossible to kill. Bed bugs can travel long distances even in jet cargo bays at 35,000 feet and survive the trip in order to infest new territory. By implication, bedbugs can likely survive a hard vacuum for a short duration.
Young bed bugs hatch from eggs in 10 days. Bed bug females lay about 300 eggs, half of which will be female, so in a period of weeks you can be facing 45,000 individuals. Bedbugs like any other form of complex life, excrete and after having them for a while, you will find tiny red spots on all bed sheets, pajamas, pillows and mattresses as well as dark spots. Things to look for are the bugs themselves, and the light-brown, molted skins of the nymphs that have shed them and developed into the juvenile stage. Dark spots of dried bed bug excrement are often present along mattress seams or wherever the bugs have resided. They are especially fond of wood. Along creases and seams in mattresses and where they have buttons and all corners, you will find noticeable reddening; a sure sign of infestation. If you have a wooden bed frame, the unstained and unvarnished inner part will be covered with blackened spots and streaks that will be especially prevalent in corners and joint work. For a box spring, this may only be seen once the gauze on the bottom is removed.
So how do you break the cycle when you don't want to poison yourself along with the bedbugs with chemical warfare? Chemical methods often cause the insects to disperse, only to come back when it's safe. The use of high temperatures is impractical as you require a sustained minimum temperature of 120 degree F. Remember the India bit? Freezing is also difficult and impractical unless you want to shut off all heating for a month in the dead of winter where temperatures are well below freezing. Besides, some bedbugs will hibernate close to your body heat in clothing and sleeping bags, even in an igloo.
The method of control hereinafter detailed is completely natural, safe and effective if you are rigorous, thorough and diligent in your approach. It may or may not be good to start off with fumigation. This part is left to the reader. If you live in an apartment and the landlord couldn't care less outside of getting your rent on time, personal fumigation only disperses the brood to the adjoining suites to come back on you when neighbors fumigate. What you need to do is wash all clothing in hot water not less than 120 degrees F. and then bag them in plastic bags until ready to use. Clothing in use must always be hung without exception, not in contact with the floor and away from walls were possible. Dust all shelving and drawer corners with powdered diatomaceous earth. Undersides need to be done too, and this is a bit of a trick. Usually, spraying with insecticidal soap on a weekly rotation is effective here. As bedbugs are not necessarily confined to the bedroom, especially in modern small apartments and condos and after fumigation with chemicals, it is best to do the entire suite from top to bottom. Look especially to baseboards, cracks in flooring, walls and ceiling, wooden furniture, upholstered sofas, easy chairs, lazy boys, rugs and carpets, hanging pictures, loose and frayed wallpaper, pealing paint, stucco, all corners and electrical wall plates,. Dust these with diatomaceous earth. It is recommended that furniture items are turned over, thoroughly inspected and treated accordingly.
If you have a carpet, have it cleaned with a professional and explain that hot temperatures are needed, like in steam cleaning. Wall to wall carpets are difficult and may have to be removed entirely if carpet to wall edges are not enough of a cure. Better yet, learn to live without rugs, as they are also hiding spots for dog and cat fleas too. If you have a dog or cat, these pets must be discouraged from jumping up on furniture as bedbugs will hitch a ride on them. It is not known if they feed on cats and dogs, but since dog and cat fleas also bite and feed on people, it is reasonable to conjecture that bedbugs feed on sleeping cats and dogs too, especially if they sleep in infected bedding and furniture.
As far as the infested mattress is concerned, it is likely that you will have to get rid of it or destroy it. The new mattress must be mounted as follows. Bring it in during daylight. Mount it on a bed frame of the four posted and preferably metallic type and keep it away from all walls by at least three inches. This spacing must also include anything hanging from walls or windows like curtains, pictures and drapery. Headboards that are connected are out as well as are wooden frames resting on the floor. All four posts must be coated with Vaseline petroleum jelly to trap the climbing bedbugs before they reach the mattress. If you have pets, discourage them from licking it off. If things are stored under the bed, these must not rub off the Vaseline jelly. Check and renew the jelly coating periodically and reapply as necessary. Once one bedbug is in a mattress, it will take up residence and the whole problem will start all over again, especially if it is a pregnant female. Forget about duvet covers so generous that they drape onto the floor, such as seen in Sears's catalogs and linen advertisements. Nothing of any sort must reach from bed mattress to floor at any time for even a short time, day or night. For the mattress itself, use form fitting sheets of the correct size that fit tightly on the mattress. Wash these frequently and have a few as a backup. If you want an electric blanket because the landlord skimps on heat, the wire must be extended from the ceiling and not from along the floor from a wall outlet. Applying Vaseline petroleum jelly to wires just does not work! Wash your clothes frequently and bag until use. Check bags for tears and replace where needed. Do not count on neighbors to follow suit and keep this program up as long as any suite in the building is infested. If you move, bring the entire program to the new residence and keep it up. In all situations, follow a rigorous hygiene program, washing hands frequently, especially prior to meal preparation where others are being served. Recall; wherever bedbugs are, there is sure to be blood. Any contact with it and one must accommodate hygiene accordingly.
This is a refined, tried and true scientifically rigorous program and it works if followed as closely as possible. It is environmentally friendlier than using pesticides to which the critters have become resistant. It has been tested and found to be an excellent control over a two year period in a bug infested building. Those who follow this, find they are virtually bite free while others do the bedbug dance in adjoining suites. If we all work together on this, we can severely reduce bedbug infestations world wide. Remember, smallpox was once a scourge of humanity and with a rigorous program is entirely eliminated. No one shed any tears on that extinction event. Likewise, if bedbugs and other pests went extinct, few tears would be shed.