Just in time for the hottest part of summer, when all the little creepy crawlies multiply and invade our homes, Celsias brings you a host of recipes to defeat the advancing armies of ants, spiders, flies, and even cockroaches (eeek!).
I personally don’t mind a few ants. Or even more than a few. My grandmother, always too vain to wear her glasses, used to (inadvertently) roll them into sugar cookies. Those of us who loved her kept the secret. After all, what’s a little extra protein between friends?
If you’re more finicky, sprinkle pepper, baby powder and scented bath powders, or cinnamon, cream of tartar, or salt in areas that attract ants. All are reported to send ants scurrying for their nests, and some will also add a nice smell.
Alternatively, you can spray boric acid, or mix boric acid with equal parts cornmeal and sugar, and ants and other pests will take it back to the nest and croak. The problem, of course, is the boric acid, which is a weak antiseptic but still strong enough to take down our friends the honeybees, as well as wild bees and butterflies (and possibly hummingbirds if used outside).
Better yet, grind bay leaves in a coffee grinder and spread them where ants congregate; the smell will drive them bananas. This also works for peppermint leaves, and paprika. In the latter case, no need to buy whole plants, just sprinkle the contents of a spice container.
You can also set out whole cloves. Instead of your bare counters, or the floor – where pets and babies tend to congregate and put everything in their mouths – use small aluminum foil dishes behind appliances or in the empty space under kitchen drawers.
The same peppermint that repels ants also gets rid of bedbugs, mankind’s newest scourge, but in this case you have to buy the oil. You can also buy essential oils in lavender, thyme, eucalyptus and lemongrass, and simply dot the oil along the outside edges of the bottom sheet, where your skin won’t come in contact.
The pheromones in very fragrant essential oils cause neurological meltdown in bedbugs. Unfortunately, the same can be true of humans, so if one member of your family develops adverse symptoms (abdominal pain, convulsions, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, flushing, nausea, shallow breathing, slow heartbeat, twitching, unconsciousness, uncoordinated movement, or vomiting), try heavier essential oils like cedar, name or sesame, which do not pass through human skin into the bloodstream.
You can make up solutions to repel ants, from equal parts white vinegar and water, or water and orange peels, or Ivory Pure dishwashing soap and water, and spray where ants travel. Add rubbing alcohol to the latter mixture, and spray it on spiders as well.
Another interesting factoid; ants supposedly won’t cross a barrier of petroleum jelly, and Vicks Vaporub works even better, but how to get it on your kitchen counters and not in your food? If you think of a way, let us know.
You can also use powdered sugar and baking soda, half and half, to repel everything from ants to roaches, and the mixture is relatively nontoxic if pets get into it. Best of all, though, are cucumber peels. The older and fatter the cuke, the more bitter the peel, and this is exactly the kind you want. Where cucumber peels go, ants, roaches and other ambulatory and flying pests won’t.
Elderberries make a wonderful, “old-timey” wine, but did you know that the leaves repel flies? If you have an elderberry bush, hang the leaves inside, or boil them with water, strain off the green goo, and use the remainder as a fly spray.
You can buy glue boards, which operate like horizontal fly strips to catch ambulatory pests, or you can make your own from yeast, honey or molasses, and just enough water to make the mixture spreadable. These, too, should be tucked away where children or pets can’t get to them.
Some people swear by instant grits, which reportedly cause dehydration in insects with exoskeletons (ants, spiders, grasshoppers, etc.). Then, when these critters go to drink water, they explode.
If true, I think that qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Besides, anyone who knows anything about ants knows that the adults can’t digest solid food. Instead, they liquefy their enemies and eat the residue, or “farm” aphids for the sweet sap the aphids produce.
Oftentimes, however, just keeping the house clean and free of food residue, and the foliage around the house cut back to manageable levels, will deter pests, who only enter your home to find something to eat – sort of like your kin-laws, right?
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