Predict, prevent and prevail over the creepy, crawly blood-sucking pests that you’re trying to keep out of your house and off your property so you can fully enjoy your family and friends this summer. Here’s your guide to natural prevention and what to do if you do find yourself dealing with a pest problem the healthy way.
Start Outside to Keep Pests at Bay
Pests are going to come from the outside in, so the first step to combating them is to start outside. If mosquitoes are an issue, eliminating any and all standing water in your yard is a must. This is where mosquitoes breed. Also be aware that mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.
Plants That Ward Off Pests
One of the best and most organic defenses against unwanted bugs are fragrant plants that are known for keeping specific pests at bay. For instance, basil keeps flies and mosquitoes away and can be grown in a pot in almost any room of the house. Keep the soil well drained and give the fragrant herb at least six hours of sunlight per day, preferably next to a southern-facing window. Use a general houseplant fertilizer once a month. Use organic fertilizer if you plan on cooking with the basil, and test your PH levels and prune your basil plant once a month. The Mother Nature Network has a great, all natural recipe for repellent spray made from basil leaves and rubbing alcohol.
Other delightfully fragrant and insect-repelling plants include lavender for warding off fleas, moths, flies and mosquitoes, lemongrass, rosemary and mint. Throw some fresh rosemary into the fire pit this summer for a mosquito free evening.
Prevention Is Key
The best thing you can do to protect your family is to catch pest problems before they get out of control and require major fumigation or cause serious structural damage to your home. Termites are one of the easiest problems to spot and can do the most damage in a short amount of time. Prevent termites from invading your home by keeping wood mulch, fallen leaves and stored firewood away from the base of the house, ideally 15 feet or more. You might want to consider replacing wood mulch with grass, gravel, pavers or ground plants.
Termites, like mosquitoes, thrive in standing water. Standing water pooling in your gutters, on your roof or by the foundation of your home is a breeding ground for termites, so keep gutters clear and make sure that downspouts are directing water away from your foundation. Keep an eye out for mud tubes all around your foundation and on any wooden porches or fences. The sooner you can spot a problem, the easier and cheaper it will be to fix.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Even though you’ve done everything imaginable to keep pests out of your home, you’re not the bug terminator. Some pests are just going to bypass your best efforts and find a way in. Time to equip yourself with strong, yet non-toxic, tools to fight back. Studies show that not only are mosquitoes developing immunities to DEET, the main chemical in common repellents, but DEET has also been linked to asthma attacks, seizures and worse. Opt for natural repellents like Natrapel that use picaridin, a compound derived from pepper, or the soy-based BiteBlocker.