The Spring bloom does more than awaken the sleeping flora. Spring’s warm days encourage the creepy critters that have safely hidden from the cold of winter to emerge en masse and set up shop in our homes, garages, and gardens. Being fertile and friendly, it doesn’t take long before those newly awakened little creatures have become a thriving mass of visitors enjoying a long spring vacation in our homes. Even the best kept kitchens may have a single crumb left unnoticed; frequently, that’s all it takes for the ant, cricket, and cockroach dinner bell to sound. But what should you do?
We know that the word “exterminator” (seen on many pest control trucks) is a misnomer. If there was such a thing as extermination of pests, there would be no need for regular pesticide applications. The best we can hope for is control. We have two basic choices—toxic or non-toxic pesticide control. Studies at Stanford University, Sloan Kettering, the Mayo Clinic, the Journal of American Medicine, and the Commonweal Foundation have reported a link between degenerative diseases and toxic pesticide exposure.
Many studies have shown that cancer, Parkinson’s, leukemia, asthma, ADD, ADHD, autism, rashes, sore throats, and flu-like symp- toms can all be traced to toxic pesticide exposure. Thus, the choice should be clear. The bad news: even if you’re not applying toxic chemicals yourself, your neighbor maybe using them. Unfortunately, they can drift on the breeze to inundate you and your property. The good news: there are healthy alternatives available.
The labels on most pesticides describe one or two ingredients, but the manufacturers are not obligated to disclose the inert ingredients, which generally comprise 2/3 to 3/4 of any given product. Preliminary research on the “inerts” has shown that many of them contain hazardous waste that biodegrades in about 400 years. Unbelievably, there have been no human health studies done on the most widely used chemicals.
Knowing a few basic facts can help us keep ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and our planet safer. One simple and healthy option to home pest control is to use Terro Ant Killer, which is made of boric acid powder and sugar syrup (you can even experiment with making your own). Using several plates that are sturdy enough to with- stand the wind, put some drops of the solution on each plate. Then position the plates a short distance away from your home’s access points: the front and back entries, and any patios or sliding doors.
For the first few days, you’ll notice swarms of feeding ants. When the number of ants appears to subside, place more drops of bait on each plate. Over a few days or weeks, repeat the process until no more ants arrive. Be patient and persistent. If the ants have already entered your kitchen or bathroom, place a plate (with ant syrup) in an out of the way area. Continue outside and inside feedings until the problem is resolved.
You may also want to follow ant trails outside to find their home base. Pouring boiling water into outside nests can be a great deterrent. For ants climbing up outside table and chair legs, be creative try some petroleum jelly around the legs. Strategically placed sticky traps are also effective on ants, and they help with crickets and other creepy crawlers as well. If the desert cock roach pays you a visit, the less toxic cockroach powder appears to be an effective remedy, versus the highly advertised but toxic “kills all in one spray” approach.
Although the Terro Ant Killer should be kept out of the reach of children and pets, Eco Smart brand pest control products are considered non-toxic for use around children and pets. These products can be found at home improvement and hardware stores. There are very few of us who don’t encounter occasional pest problems. Trying these less toxic alternatives may give us an opportunity to keep ourselves, our families, and our pets safer.