Pest Tips

Here are some pest tips you can use around your house and in your house without using any toxic pesticides. None of these pests, or most other pests, require the regular spraying of pesticides by an exterminator. You can easily do your own pest control.

Aphids will be active now after all the rain. The best control is to routinely spray the plants with a pressure wash to dislodge the aphids which will fall to the ground and become prey for spiders and other predatory arthropods. You can mix two cups of food grade diatomaceous earth in a gallon of water and spray the plants as well. Another good spray consists of ½ water and ½ Listerine mouthwash. This spray will discourage lots of pests on your plants. This mixture is also a very good mosquito repellent.

You can also put some soapy water in a yellow bowl that will attract aphids which will drown. They are attracted to the color yellow. You can also trap them by putting petroleum jelly or honey on yellow index cards. You don't want to spray pesticides as you will kill many insects that like to feed on aphids, such as praying mantids, ladybird beetles, green lacewing larvae, syrphid flies, soldier beetles and some wasps. Spiders, small wrens and other birds feed on aphids and will be endangered by pesticides.

Clover mites
Clover mites are pests in various grasses and they often enter homes in large numbers as they may be concentrated in the grass next to a building. They are pests of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass as well as clover. Although these mites will invade homes, they do not bite, transmit any diseases or do any damage. They can be wiped up in a house with a soap and water rag. Treating the grass around the house with a mixture of DE and water will help keep them under control.

Daddylonglegs are closely related to spiders. They are also known as harvestmen. They do not have venom glands like spiders so cannot deliver a painful bite. They feed on a variety of foods, including small insects, plant material and fungi. They often congregate in large numbers on the side of a house near the eaves. They do not bite and do no damage, but are just a nuisance by their presence. The best thing to do is take a broom and sweep them down or hose them down. If they come back, do it again. They will eventually leave.

Earwigs are small insects with a distinct pair of pincer-like appendages at the tip of their abdomen. They feed on a variety of living and dead plant and animal material. Normally they stay outside but occasionally wander in a home. The best way to keep them out is to make sure your doors close tightly. If not, you may want to install door sweeps. You can trap a lot of earwigs outside by putting out a damp, rolled up newspaper in the yard. The earwigs will crawl into the flaps of the paper at night. Just pick up the paper and dispose of it in the morning.

Fungus gnats.
Fungus gnats are very small flies with long legs and long antennae and distinctly patterned wings. They are dark brown or black in color. They are generally found in over-watered house plants where the larvae feed on fungus in the potting soil and moist organic material. The best way to control them is to let the plants dry out almost to the point of wilting before re-watering. That will kill the larvae in the soil. Then put an inch of aquarium gravel on the soil to prevent female fungus gnats from laying anymore eggs in the potting soil. You can also place a yellow sticky trap on a stick in the soil to catch the adult gnats.

What do you do when you see a bug or some bugs in your home?
A – Panic
B – Scream
C – Call an exterminator
D – Get out the bug spray
E – All of the above
F – None of the above
The best answer is F, none of the above. First, you have to realize that all bugs weren’t created to bite you or make your life miserable. In fact, most of them would rather be someplace else than in your home. You can simply remove the offending intruder by putting a glass over it, sliding a piece of paper under it, and carrying it outside and releasing it. Then you should try to determine how it got into your home and seal the area so the bug’s friends or relatives can’t come in. Did it come in a window? Did it come in under a door? Did it come in from some crack or crevice in the foundation? Did you carry it in with firewood? Once you determine that, you can fix the situation so there are no future panics, screams or pesticides. If you have to kill the intruder or intruders, make a mixture of half and half water and rubbing alcohol (or vodka) and add a little dish soap. This mixture will kill any bugs and not pollute your home. It would be a good idea to try to take a good photo of it so you can get it identified and learn more about it. Bugs weren’t put on the planet to cause panics and screams. That is why we have politicians.

The purpose of pest-proofing your home is to help keep cockroaches, ants, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, rodents and other pests out. It will also allow you to not have to hire a pest control company to spray pesticides all around your home or in it. Along with pest proofing your house, you need to remember to keep all of your sink, tub and floor drains closed at night. This will prevent cockroaches from coming up the drains from the sewer system or septic tank. If you don't have a drain cover, you can fill a Ziploc bag with water and place it over the drain. That will keep the roaches out.

The first step is installing door sweeps on all outside doors that need them. If you can slide a piece of paper under a door, it needs a door sweep. Also, add a door sweep to a door going into the garage.

Don't leave any debris laying around the house. This is a good hiding place for cockroaches, scorpions and centipedes. If you have firewood, stack it away from the house as it will attract black widows. It is a good idea to cover firewood with black plastic and stack it in the sun. The heat under the plastic will keep spiders and insects from hanging out in the firewood.
When you have branches touching the house or roof, it will allow acrobat ants and carpenter ants access. You should trim them back and keep them from touching the roof during the warm months. Also, you should sweep down any spider webs anywhere around the outside of the house.

When you get to the garage, you will probably find that the door doesn't close tightly and never will. There are almost always small areas at either side of the door when any insect or rodent can get in. As mentioned earlier, make sure there are door sweeps on the door entering the house. Put Niban Bait in any areas behind storage or shelves where roaches can hide. Niban will last three or four months, so you only need to apply it a couple of times a year. Niban is made from boric acid. It is available online.

This procedure will keep most crawling insects and other arthropods out of your house. Keep anything that pests can hide in or under away from your house and don't leave outside lights on any longer than necessary as they attract insects. Check your home every few months to make sure all of the work you did is still in place and effective.

You don’t need pesticides to control most pests. I will help anyone that has pests control them without having to hire an exterminator or using toxic pesticides. I have several handbooks available if anyone wants them. One is how to control pests in your home and garden without using toxic pesticides. One is about how to control pests in a commercial building using the Precautionary Principle Philosophy. One is how to control pests in schools without using toxic pesticides. One is on termite inspections and treatments and one is an ant manual that helps you identify and control ants safely and effectively. If you are interested in any of the handbooks, you can contact me at

Richard Bugman Fagerlund


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