Dealing Kindly With Insects
Posted by Ingrid Newkirk at 5:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)
The comedian George Carlin said that animal rights activists are the sort of people who would invent a cockroach spray that doesn't kill cockroaches. It just fills them with self-doubt so that they have to go away and think about things.
Cockroaches can be a problem, even in the best of places. The ones in Florida are nearly the size of condors, but even they are rather intriguing if you can get over your prejudices and look at them without that theatrical shudder we think we are supposed to let loose. Their wings are quite delicate. Yes, the Florida ones can fly. But they are polite and shy and scuttle away into the drains, out of sight, if they can avoid you.
Of the more than 4,000 species of cockroach in the world, only a handful are considered "pests." Among them are the European cockroaches and the German cockroaches who came to stay in my warehouse. I tried all sorts of "cures": bay leaves, talking to them (something my friend swore worked for her when she did social work in a tenement in Maryland), but they had decided to populate the planet with their offspring, starting at my place, and wouldn't listen.
I shall never forget the borax. That was a mistake. I hadn't wanted to use an insecticide, a poison, and had taken bad advice to buy this instead. The 40,000 nerve endings in their antennae, their keen sense of smell (so keen that they can identify different people by body odor alone!), and the little ears on their rears, weren't enough to warn the cockroaches away from the borax. They ate it and disintegrated slowly in front of me, no doubt in great pain as their small bodies burst asunder from some mysterious internal reaction. I felt hideously guilty, removed the refrigerator, forbade everyone from eating in the office (a cockroach can live for about a year on the carbs in a cracker crumb), and, in time, those who survived the hideous borax moved on to greener pastures.
Here's how to deal with:
Pour a line of cream tartar, red chili powder, paprika, or dried peppermint at the place where ants enter the house – they won't cross it. You can also try washing countertops, cabinets, and floors with equal parts of vinegar and water and putting a little paprika at the edges.
Some people swear by cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, mint oil, lavender oil, a mixture of olive oil and cayenne pepper, or catnip.
A humane and great smelling alternative to moth balls is to place cedar chips around clothes or store sachets made out of dried lavender or equal parts of dried rosemary and mint in drawers and closets.
To repel flies, hang clusters of cloves in a room, or leave an orange skin out. However, you may invite them back, as with ants, if you don't keep living areas clean, sweep up crumbs promptly, vacuum, wash dishes right away, empty garbage promptly, and store food in tightly sealed containers.
If you must evict them, carefully trap them in an inverted jar and release them outside.
Place whole bay leaves in several places around infested rooms, including inside kitchen cabinets. Apparently bay leaves smell like dirty socks to cockroaches and they would rather not be around them. For serious infestations, you may need to resort to an insect growth regulator, called Gentrol, which nips the cockroach reproductive cycle in the bud leading them to produce sterile offspring. Given that one German cockroach mother and her offspring can add 35,000 new lives to the world in a year, birth control is a must.
Taking B-complex vitamins or eating brewer's yeast daily (in tablets or powder) can keep you mosquito-bite free in the summer months. Oil of citronella and pennyroyal mint oil are both effective repellents when diluted with vodka or vegetable oil and dabbed onto the skin. Mosquitoes dislike fresh basil and pennyroyal so these can be usefully applied on porches and around the home.
Posted to Home & Garden | Posted to Tags: Ants, Cockroaches, Ingrid Newkirk, Insects, mosquitos, Spiders