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57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
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49. Control Household Pests With Less Toxic Alternatives


A variety of strategies avoid the use of synthetic pesticides in the home. Here are some nonchemical control options.

Eliminate entry points to the house. Place screening over openings, as well as on air vents and ducts. Use caulk to close cracks and crevices, especially around water pipes and windows. Seal or repair openings on the exterior of the house. Also, screen attic vents. Inspect plants and food products for infestations before you bring them into your house.

trowing away trash

Eliminate the insects’ sources of food, water, and shelter. Dispose of food waste in sealed plastic bags, or in containers that have snap-on lids. Empty garbage on a weekly basis or more often. Don’t allow food to remain in the garbage disposal overnight. Store bulk foods in sealed containers. Keep pantry and cabinet shelves, toasters, and couch cushions “crumb-free.”
dog eating

Remove pet food and water bowls from the floor at night, especially if cockroaches are problem. Discard overripe fruits, onions, and potatoes to control fruit flies and fungus beetles. Also, remove bird nests from your house. Vacuum regularly and thoroughly, or steam-clean carpets and upholstered furniture, to reduce some pest populations.

Eliminate or disrupt the habitat where a pest resides. Store wood away from the house because it can harbor termites and other pests. Remove debris and fallen leaves near foundations and limbs that touch the house. Use a dehumidifier, especially in basements. In a dry environment, problems with sowbugs, centipedes, silverfish, firebrats, and dust mites are reduced.
fly swater

Certain old-fashioned methods still work. To eliminate visible or less mobile insects, there’s the old reliable rolled-up magazine, fly swatter, or the sole of your shoe. The vacuum cleaner is the most appropriate tool for eliminating boxelder bugs, black vine weevils, and elm leaf beetles that have moved indoors.
insecticide dusts

Insecticidal dusts tend to be less hazardous to humans than most synthetic pesticides. They do not vaporize in the air and pose little risk of injury due to skin contact. Even so, they can irritate mucous membranes and the respiratory tract, so use goggles and a dust mask. Three of the most common insecticidal dusts are silica aerogel, diatomaceous earth, and boric acid.

Traps use sticky substances or funnel-shaped openings to capture insects and rodents; they catch only the pests that wander into or onto the trap. With bait stations, on the other hand, the insect collects a poisoned bait, takes it back to the nest, and shares it with the rest of the colony. As a result, baits often do a better job than traps in controlling a large pest population.

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