When you go for a midnight snack and see an unwelcome six-legged visitor on your kitchen floor, counter, or cabinet the first thing you’re likely to do is call a pest control company. They can provide effective treatments with routine visits and chemical sprays. Although, many people have issues with frequently spraying chemical pesticides in their home. They worry about its effects on their kids, pets, or even their own sensitivity. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of bugs in the house naturally without the use of pesticides or other harsh chemicals.

In this Excerpt from the book Household Magic by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen the authors provide a selection of natural pesticide methods to help get rid of bugs in the house naturally.


Would you believe that 95% of all the animal species on Earth are in sects? Scientists have discovered over one million species, and there may be 10 times that many insects that haven’t been named yet.

One out of every four animals on the planet is a beetle of some kind. (There are about 500,000 different species of beetle.) Social in sects—such as ants and termites—make up about 20% of the total animals in the world.

We’ve given you these insect facts, not to gross you out, but to make your insect-control challenge seem minor when you realize that millions of insects can exist in one single acre of land. And here are some solutions…

Repelling Flying Insects

Many insects with wings are repelled by the smell of basil. If you’re into growing herbs, be sure to feature basil in your herb garden, and you won’t have to shoo-fly any flying insects.

If you don’t grow your own basil, buy a bunch at the grocery store or flower shop…you can dry them by clumping three or four stems together with string or a rubber band. Once you have a bunch of clumps, hang them upside down in a place that’s well-ventilated but that’s not in direct sunlight.

When the leaves are dry, crumble them into small muslin bags or pieces of cheesecloth, and hang them all around your home, or wherever you suspect flying insects enter or where they like to hang out.

Battling Fruit Flies

◆ When you set out a bowl of fruit for company, just make sure your guests are not fruit flies—to repel these pests, just put a few sprigs of mint around the fruit bowl.

◆ If you have fruit flies hovering around the garbage can or your bunch of bananas, set out a small plastic container filled with a mixture of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, six drops of liquid dish detergent and 1⁄2 cup of water. The bugs will fly in, but they won’t fly out.

Fighting Silverfish

◆ If silverfish are making their way through your books and important papers, clear out those shelves or boxes and thoroughly vacuum the entire area. Also vacuum the books and papers.

◆ If you have books that need special care, seal them in plastic bags and put them in the freezer for four days, time enough to destroy any insect infestation.

◆ Before putting your books and papers back on shelves or in boxes, get one of the following (or create a mixture of several)—dried lavender leaves, bay leaves, wormwood, tansy, mint leaves, cinnamon bark.

Silverfish hate all of these pungent smells and tend to be repelled by them. Put the leaves in muslin bags or in cheesecloth, and tuck them into the shelf corners. (The bags can also be used in the kitchen to repel silverfish.)

◆ If silverfish are in your kitchen, remove all utensils from drawers and food from the cabinets. Wash the drawers and cabinets with very hot water and dry it all with a blow-dryer set on hot, especially along the wall edges. The hot water and blow-dryer will help eradicate silverfish eggs.

◆ If you’ve had a severe silverfish infestation, wipe the cabinets and drawers with a potent lavender oil. That should keep them away for about a year.

◆ If you see a silverfish scooting across your bathroom floor, boil a pot of water, and care fully pour it down your bathtub and sink drains, which will hopefully destroy their hiding place. Then vacuum all of the room’s corners and crevices.

When you remove the bag, it’s best to do it outdoors. Once the bag is out of the vacuum cleaner, be sure to tape it closed, put it in a plastic bag, tape that bag closed and then discard everything.

NOTE: When using the vacuum cleaner to get rid of insects, spill one cup of table salt on the floor and vacuum it up. The salt will help kill insect eggs and larvae that may be inside the vacuum cleaner bag

Removing Bugs from Grains And Beans

◆ Place a dried chili pepper in the container with your dry grains or beans, and you will not be bothered by weevils.

◆ Weevils and meal worms are repelled by the scent of mint. Fresh mint leaves or strong smelling dry mint leaves will keep the bugs away.

A stick of mint-flavored chewing gum in with flour or spaghetti will also get the job done. Each time you open a new bag of flour or package of spaghetti, put in a new stick of peppermint gum.

Dealing with Ants

Figure out the ants’ main points of entry— windowsill, doorway, baseboards—and sprinkle those places with any of the following…

◆ cayenne pepper

◆ chili powder

◆ cinnamon

◆ sage

◆ whole cloves

◆ bay leaves

◆ cream of tartar

◆ salted cucumber peelings

◆ dried peppermint leaves or peppermint oil

◆ distilled white vinegar

◆ lemon juice and peel—mix it with water and wash the kitchen floor

◆ baby powder

◆ uncooked white or brown rice

You can also sprinkle the above items in food pantries, cupboards, cabinets or any other place you’ve seen ants scurrying around.

Combating Carpenter Ants

Black and red carpenter ants are found in woody environments. While they do not bite unless provoked, it’s not fun to have them crawling around, chewing up your house or furnishings. To combat these destructive pests, brew up this recipe…

Carpenter Ant Bait

3 cups water

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons boric acid powder

several jar lids (shallow enough so ants can crawl in)

wads of cotton batting

Heat water in a pot and then add the sugar and boric acid powder. Stir to dissolve. Place a wad of cotton on a jar lid, and soak the cotton with solution. Place lid in the area frequented by ants, and keep the solution re plenished until ants disappear.

The ants are attracted to the sweet sugar …and, because they will take it to their nests to share it with other ants, the deadly boric acid will reach ants you can’t even see.

Source: Maine Department of Agriculture, Conser vation and Forestry, Augusta.

CAUTION: Boric acid is toxic. Use extreme caution when you’re prepar ing this bait…wear rubber gloves and protect your eyes, nose and mouth with goggles and a mask…wash the pot thoroughly when you’re done. Keep this bait out of reach of all people and pets.

Rousting Out Roaches

There are various ways to get rid of roaches. The most successful methods use one of three ingredients—baking soda, borax powder or boric acid (which is a key element in most com mercial roach products). The idea is to get the roaches to eat the bait, then go back to the nest and die. Here is a selection of ways in which each of the three B’s can eradicate a roach infestation…

◆ Combine equal parts of baking soda and confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, and sprinkle the mixture wherever roaches hide and walk. The sugar will attract them and the baking soda will kill them (in a way that’s too gruesome to explain).

Combating Roaches

The measurements for this popular roach exterminating recipe seem flexible (no two sources agree), and since none of the roaches have lived to complain, it must work. Here’s our version…

Roach Bait

1⁄4 cup cooking oil or bacon drippings

1⁄4 cup sugar

8 ounces boric acid powder

1⁄2 cup flour

1⁄2 cup chopped onions

Combine the oil and sugar in a pot. Mix in the boric acid powder, flour and onions. The idea is to form soft dough. You may need to add a little more oil.

Shape the soft dough into small, marble size balls and place them in open plastic sandwich bags (the bags help keep them moist longer). Distribute them around your home, in the corner seams of your windows and doors, tiny floor or wall cracks or wher ever roaches enter, as well as their favorite hangouts—kitchen cabinets, drawers, under the sink and other dark, damp areas.

When the dough get hard as a rock, whip up a fresh batch of bait balls…unless, of course, the first batch wiped out the problem completely.

CAUTION: Boric acid is toxic. Use extreme caution when you’re preparing this bait…wear rubber gloves and protect your eyes, nose and mouth with goggles and a mask…and be sure to wash the pot thoroughly when you’re done. Keep this bait out of reach of all people and pets. NOTE: You can also prepare a non toxic version of this recipe with baking soda instead of boric acid powder

◆Combine two tablespoons of flour with four tablespoons of borax powder (available at most supermarkets) and one tablespoon of cocoa powder. Spoon it out on plastic lids and leave this lethal blend in cabinets…under the sink…on a kitchen counter…or wherever you’ve seen the cockroaches crawling.

◆Use the recipe above—and please be aware of the caution.

For additional household tips and other advice for your home, purchase Household Magic from Bottomlineinc.com.

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