Along with the heat and humidity that comes with living in the South are insects…so many insects. The environment here is just made for them! Any true Southerner knows that summer means a variety of mosquitoes, flies, ants and potentially roaches (yuck!) attempting to make their way into your home. Of course the first reaction is get them out, however you need to do it!
But before you reach for that can of bug spray, consider this: many home pesticides are toxic, not just for the insects that you are trying to get out of your home, but for you and your pets as well. Sprays can cause air quality problems, especially for those who are sensitive to harsh chemicals. Sure, sprays offer the short term solution of getting rid of the bugs, but the residue left behind causes its own problems. So what are your air-friendly alternatives?
An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure
The best way to prevent having to introduce pesticides into your home is to keep the pests from entering your house in the first place. We all know this is easier said than done, and even the cleanest of homes has the occasional intruder. But it still remains a fact – insects especially prefer environments that are cluttered, humid, and warm. Attics are a major source of problems, especially when it comes to roaches – this is where a lot of households store boxes and other paper materials, which they absolutely love!
First, start with a list of problem areas in the house, including anywhere with moisture problems, drafts, and a lot of clutter. Fix leaks and replace any rotting or molding building materials. Make sure drafts are sealed, so no insects or rodents can manage to squeeze in. Try to keep your home as cool and dry as possible – the environment we prefer during warmer months is an insect’s nightmare. And organize, organize, organize! Keep clutter to a minimum, to eliminate as many hiding spaces as possible.
As always, food should be stored in airtight containers and kitchen counters should be wiped down on a regular basis with a solution of vinegar. If the ants and rodents can’t smell the food, they won’t come in in the first place!
Consider Natural Alternatives
If insects or rodents are already in the home, then it is time to break some natural products that will help you deal with the issue while keeping the air in your home fresh. Remember, these solutions are for occasional problems – for large-scale infestations, a professional is going to be your best bet.
For insects, food-grade diatomaceous earth or boric acid are safe bets – they aren’t harmful to humans or pets, but deadly to six-legged critters. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth near probable entry points for insects. Once insects crawl through the powder, they are done for. Boric acid is an especially good choice for roaches – take a small bowl of boric acid mixed with some sugar, and place it in the area where you have noticed a lot of activity. Crawling through the powder should do the trick, and you won’t have to worry about the safety of kids or other animals.
For a sweet-smelling solution to repelling insects, try mint oils placed around the house. While we think the smell is lovely, insects are not fond of it and will stay away. Catnip plants around the house are another recommended trick – they will help to filter the air in your home, keep kitty happy, and repel roaches all at the same time. If you are specifically having an issue with moths, citrus oil along with the traditional cedar blocks are a good repellant option and certainly smell better than moth balls (which release a toxic vapor – definitely not a good option for great home air quality).
For rodents, poisons definitely emit some vapors that are not ideal for great air quality. That said, rodents themselves produce droppings and urine that is hazardous, so you want these guys out as quickly as possible. Snap traps are effective, but pose a hazard to pets and children. Glue traps, electronic traps, and no-kill traps are safer but still need to be placed in locations that aren’t easily accessible.
If things are out of hand, it’s time to call in the professionals. To keep your home’s air quality in mind, look for companies that advertise as environmentally-friendly; they are more likely to have products on hand that will pose fewer problems for your indoor environment. Before the pest control tech begins their work, discuss initial plans for solving the problem – most companies will offer pesticide-free choices before moving on to harsher products. These options often include baits and traps – ask that the pest control professional put these items in a location that isn’t easily reached by children or pets. If they can keep them away from the air intake for your HVAC system, that’s a major plus for air quality as well.
If harsher products are to be used, see what the possibilities are for only applying the pesticides in certain areas away from pets, children, and vents, to prevent the spray from circulating throughout the air of your home. It is important to note that, by definition, even organic or all natural pesticide sprays are toxic – they are meant to kill indoor pests and pose some threat to the air quality in your home. To reduce problems for family and pets, see if your tech can recommend products that are less harmful to mammals. Most professionals will be happy to work with you on this.