Figuring Out Natural Pest Control

One of the things I dislike about the house we’re renting right now is how poorly sealed off it is. We get ants and crickets in the house like you would not believe, even when things are clean. It’s something of a pain.

That said, I do like crickets… outside! If you relax about it, their chirping can be quite nice.

Inside, in the middle of the night is another story. I never knew how loudly crickets can chirp. And hunting for one in the middle of the night is not fun.

For the most part, you can’t get more natural than the main way we handle them. The kids think it’s great fun to catch a cricket by hand and throw it outside. It may take a little extra hand washing, but it’s fun for the kids. They’re gentle enough now that squashing the crickets isn’t really an issue.

We have a method for handling them outside once in a while too. My husband sometimes goes out in the evening and starts moving some of the stones they hide under. The local birds are pretty quick to come for such a feast.

The ants are more of a problem. We use Terro liquid because it’s effective and safe around humans and pets. Only trouble is how often ants keep coming back in new places. It can take a while to control a particular incursion if you aren’t persistent. Maybe that should be persist-ANT!

For those unfamiliar with it, Terro is basically a sweet syrup combined with Borax. In other words, you can make the same kind of thing at home if that’s your preference. Too much Borax can be a hazard to children and pets, but small amounts are unlikely to be any sort of problem. We’re always picky about where we bait ants even when using safe products.

And then there’s the occasional incursion of flies. This is really only a problem when someone leaves a door open a while (Yes, dear, I mean you mostly). Mostly we’ve handled this the old fashioned way – fly swatters! Last year we had to get out the flypaper, but things haven’t been so bad this year.

Which brings me to our worst problem…

Rats in the shed!

At least they’re outside. The shed was built by our landlord, and let’s just say he didn’t seal it at all from the walls to the roof. There’s several inches of opening there. No wonder the rats go in there.

These have been giving us more trouble. They’ve been too smart for the traps. No, I don’t mind killing rats. Most wild critters I’m very much into live and let live, but I’m admittedly biased against rats. And I really don’t want them getting so content in our yard that they go for the house. Rats being so notorious for carrying disease, this bias really doesn’t bother me.

Glue traps haven’t worked any better than spring traps. Rats really are too smart sometimes.

The neighbors have cats, but they aren’t out enough to make a difference. We don’t have pets; don’t want them while renting because moving is so hard with a pet. But sometimes these rats do tempt me with thoughts of a dog and/or cat to help control things.

I’ve been considering something like the Repels All Animal Repellent. As I said, rats are one I don’t mind killing, but the safer ways to kill them have been ineffective for us. We don’t want to risk neighborhood animals by using poison.

The way the shed is built, and the junk the landlord has behind it are the big causes for this problem, of course, so we’ve been trying to figure out a good way to take care of it. Not easy when it’s a construction issue in part.

2 replies on “Figuring Out Natural Pest Control”

  1. Ash says:

    We use spiders to keep the flies under control… and junk mail as fly swatters. Have you tried peanut butter on the rat traps? It works for us as far as mice go…

    And crickets! Sheesh, that’s gotta cause a ruckus! Another ant fixer: baking soda and sugar mix. They eat it because it’s sweet, and they take it back to their colony, but the poor little critters can’t stomach the baking soda.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Yeah, my kids love the spiders, although we’ve had to train them to spot the black widows, which are awfully common around here.

    The peanut butter didn’t work. My mother had taught me that trick too, but the rats didn’t go for it. We even got some of those chewy granola bars on the advice of a friend, chopped in thirds and used the two end pieces on a nail put through a trap. The idea is that the rats get busy trying to unwrap the granola and trigger the trap. Nothing.

    Many have to try the baking soda and sugar. We have pharoah ants among other types, and those critters take the Terro well enough, but they quit coming fast enough that it just gets the ants going that particular way. No impact on the colony. But they’re supposed to be incredibly difficult to get rid of.

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