Pest Free, Naturally!

In many climates, warm weather brings bugs. While a few ants, fleas or silverfish can be a nuisance, an invasion may tempt you to reach for the bug spray. Don’t do it! This heavy-handed approach can unleash toxic compounds that put your family’s health at risk

Here are some natural ways to get rid of those little critters.


Ants leave a scented trail so other ants can find their way to food. Routinely wash away these invisible trails with a vinegar-based cleanser made from 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 cups water and 10 to 15 drops of peppermint, clove, eucalyptus or tea tree essential oil. Keep ants out of your cupboards by sprinkling powdered cinnamon, paprika or cayenne pepper across their trails.


The best strategy to kill fleas requires two steps: Bathe your pet in cedar oil shampoo and, at the same time, sprinkle flea-killing diatomaceous earth on all carpets. Brush it in and leave it for about four days, then thoroughly vacuum dead fleas from the carpet.

Diatomaceous earth is harmless for pets and people, though it can be a mild skin irritant. If your pet is sensitive, keep it out of the area. During an infestation, repeat frequently to destroy hatching fleas.

House flies

Place sachets of crushed mint, bay leaf, clove or eucalyptus around the house to repel flies. You can also make your own flypaper.

Mix 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut strips of brown kraft paper and soak in the sugar mixture. Let dry overnight. To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with string.

Commercial mothballs contain naphthalene, a hydrocarbon derived from coal tar. This toxin destroys red blood cells and has been detected in human breast milk. Cedar is a far safer option.

Wrap cedar blocks or chips in cheesecloth and place in the drawer or cabinet alongside your clothes. Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent. Toss a handful into a clothes chest or tie some in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.


Silverfish prefer damp, warm conditions like those found around kitchen and bathroom plumbing. To remove them, vacuum the area to remove food particles and insect eggs, then dust with either diatomaceous earth or boric acid (do not use boric acid if you have pets). You can also trap silverfish in a small glass jar.

Wrap the outside with tape so they can climb up and fall in. The silverfish will be trapped inside because they can’t climb smooth surfaces.

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