Here are a few, straight recipes for getting rid of pests, from ''Better Basics for the Home,'' by Annie Berthold-Bond:
BORAX-AND-SUGAR ANT HOTELP>
Use screw-top jars, a couple of inches in height for the ''hotel.'' Small marinated artichoke jars are ideal.
1 cup borax
1 cup sugar
3 cups water
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Place a loose wad of toilet paper in the jars and pour in the mixture until it is about an inch from the top. Screw on lids. With a hammer and nail, make 4-to-8 holes in each lid. Place jars in infested areas. This trap will catch and kill workers but not the queen.
To kill the queen: Blend 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and one tablespoon of borax and sprinkle in ant traffic areas. There's not enough borax to kill the ants immediately, but when they take it back to the nest the ants share the mixture with the queen. This will eradicate the nest.
Be careful not to put mixture or ant hotels in areas where children or pets can ingest it.
Use shallow, wide-mouth jars for mixing and storage.
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups water
Mix ingredients in jar. Ants will enter and drown.
(Another version of this trap for use outdoors is to mix two parts molasses, one part sugar and one part granular dry yeast. Place in jars with holes in lids, and bury the jars near ant mounds. Leave about an inch of the jar above ground. The ants ingest the mixture, and the yeast makes them explode.)
Bond, who lives in Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, N.Y., says her dogs were covered with ticks last year until she made her own version of a flea and tick collar. She simply used a drop of an essential oil, rose geranium or palmerosa, on the dog's collar each week.
''We went from finding 20 ticks a day on the dogs to none, virtually overnight,'' Bond says.
One of the advantages of the homemade pest control solutions is that one mixture sometimes solves several problems.
For example, a citrus spray or a pepper spray, will keep fleas, ticks and several other pests away from the home.
2 teaspoons orange oil or citrus solvent
2 cups water
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to blend, and spray problem areas (interior and exterior).
Common sense, too, is a good way to control pests in an environmentally safe manner. She says a good spring cleaning of cupboards and pantries does wonders for ant control.
And when you're going through the cupboards you might set aside a container or two of ground cloves or cayenne pepper.
You can sprinkle some of each along baseboards or corners where ants are present. They'll stay away from these spices.
Another great insect repellent is natural diatomaceous earth (not the pool-grade DE). You can sprinkle this in plant beds and around the exterior walls of your home. Several types of insects naturally avoid diatomaceous earth.
Many of the oils and herbs in Bond's book can be found at health food stores. Although they might seem expensive, especially the essential oils ($5 or $6 for a couple of ounces), they last several years. In most cases, a recipe might call for a drop or two of an essential oil.
Some of these oils, pennyroyal, lemon balm (citronella), thyme and lavender, for example, are excellent mosquito repellents. Just dab a drop on a piece of clothing or use them in a mixture for a repellent oil.
''A bit of advice when using some of these homemade remedies,'' Bond says. ''First, don't overuse soap. Some plants can be sensitive to too much soap. And watch for remedies that can harm pets. If you use them, be sure to place them where pets can't get at them.''
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