Each spring, when Annie Berthold-Bond anticipates a visit from unwanted house guests, she makes ''hotel plans'' for them.
They are: borax soap, sugar and water mixed together in some jars, placed strategically inside the home. Those unwanted house guests -- in this case, sugar ants and carpenter ants -- find a new place to visit.
''Two things about ants I've discovered over the years,'' says Bond, an advocate of less-toxic solutions for the home, ''The borax-and-sugar ant hotel really works; the ants literally line up to get in the jars. And last year we cleaned our wood floors with a citrus-based cleaner. For whatever reason, the combination worked.
''This year, we haven't seen any ants.''
Most of the rest of us won't be so lucky. Spring brings all sorts of pests indoors -- from ants, spiders and crickets to fleas, gnats and ticks. We rush to buy toxic chemicals to fight these pests, and Bond, the author of three books on less-toxic living solutions, asks why.
''Most homemade solutions cost pennies compared to commercial products,'' she says, ''and why expose your family to all these harsh chemicals?''
If you're worried about using toxic chemicals for pest control, Bond's recipes are made to order. In the early 1980s a natural gas leak left her central nervous system chemically damaged. She found she was one of those people who is prone to chemically sensitive reactions, so she adjusted her way of living. ''It took some work, but I found I can live a normal life without an overload of chemicals,'' she says.
Her most-recent book, ''Better Basics for the Home'' (Three Rivers Press, $18), features several recipes for pest control, indoors and out. I've tried a couple of versions of these solutions over the years, including a version of her molasses and sugar ant trap. They do work.
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