Feature

Natural pest control

G Magazine

How do you evict unwanted tenants of the insect variety in the nicest way possible?

Mosquito

Bug off!

Credit: iStockphoto

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We all have them: creepy crawlies that scuttle and hide around our homes. But as soon as we decide that we need 'pest control' we've taken a stance on our home environment that's perhaps at odds with an otherwise harmonious approach to nature.

Are we justified in hating them? After all, just as weeds are simply wildflowers growing in the wrong place, aren't pests simply animals competing with us for food and shelter.

So how can we live in accord with our six- and eight-legged friends?

There's a place for everything!

You might not think so, but insects are a crucial part of the environment. But for the most part, we aren't aware or appreciative of their activities.

There are about 4,500 species of cockroaches worldwide, which are important recyclers of dead vegetable matter - and only about 25 species live indoors and bother humans.

The flying Asian cockroach, so hated by suburbanites, has been named a 'beneficial' insect in southern Texas because it eats the eggs of bollworms that damage cotton crops.

However, there are times when it is better to discourage unwanted guests in the home.

Unfortunately, the most common advice for controlling insects in the house is to make sure you clean thoroughly and often.

This might not be music to your ears, but luckily there are a number of other proactive steps you can take, apart from doing endless hours of housework.

Preventative measures

As with any unwanted house guest, the first thing to do is make sure you aren't providing food and shelter for them, so remove the things they find most attractive.

To discourage ants, put sugar and honey in sealed containers, and use double containers if the seal is not ant-proof.

With cockroaches, make sure all food scraps are removed from the house promptly, including crumbs in the toaster, on the floor and under the grill.

This will also deter flies, which will be looking for decomposing matter in which to lay eggs.

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