Saturday, October 25, 2014

Green Pest Control - Part 3

Gary Towne was kind enough to submit a detailed overview of green pest management for our readers, which I’ve broken down into 3 articles. Gary will help us find out how we can control pests around our home or office without poisoning or harming the Earth or the people in the building and the children or pets playing in the yards. He’ll show you that there are times when you can best deal with a situation yourself and give you some tips on what to look for when choosing a trustworthy pest control operator (PCO). Gary is formally of Dr. Price Pest Control and Towne’s Pest Control, now of Propec Pest Control. He is, actually, my brother and as such he comes from a family with a tradition of respect and appreciation for nature, and focused on being environmentally (and fiscally) responsible and self-sufficient. You can contact him directly at:
* Find Part 1 of this series:  or simply look for October 21st's post. 

*Find Part 2 of this series via: or simply scroll through the blog to find October 23rd's post. 

-- Green Pest Control, Part 3 -- 


Of course, you want to save money, be self-sufficient, and DYI. As long as your goal is not ego-focused, but goal focused: what is more important, the pride and satisfaction of being independent, or the satisfaction of actually dealing with a problem effectively and promptly? Self-education is key, and asking for advice or assistance from like-minded people you can trust is very important, be they friends who help for free, or professionals who charge money. Be warned that the Internet is full of both information and misinformation, and home remedies or “green” products: some of them are very effective, and some, well, not so much, but just cater to the popularity of buzzwords. What you should not do is spray cans of RAID-like aerosols all over your home, breathing in the fumes yourself, or tossing handfuls of SiO2 around or putting it on your mattress, breathing in the scratchy dust.

There are plenty of things you can easily do yourself starting first and foremost is better hygiene and sanitation. Everywhere! Walk around the building’s exterior and room walls and plug up any holes that give bugs and rodents easy access. Pull out the heavy appliances, get down on your hands and knees, go down into that basement or crawl-space or up into that attic, look under your sinks. Yeah, there is a bit of work and sweat involved and you may have to do a few home renovations to minimize habitats for invading pests.

Store firewood in a shed away from the house, and keep the compost bin (not pile!) also away from the house and rodent free by proper construction. Keep the yard free of pest free environments. Don’t kill spiders, but just move them outside. 
Use traps, preferably humane ones. (*Note: Glue-boards are cheap and non-toxic, but I prefer not to use them for mice because they cause the poor critter to suffer a long time before it eventually dies.) If you use live traps, check them often and promptly re-locate the animal far from your home… and from other people’s homes! 
Synthesized (i.e. replicated) pheromone lures or UV lights in traps to attract specific flying target pests such as wasps or moths or flies are very safe and effective. Putting moats under your bed legs, keeping your bed away from the walls, and not storing anything under your bed discourages bedbugs. Some of these methods are used by typical PCOs following IPM protocols and procedures, and all are environmentally responsible.
 Use “preferred” or “exempt” pesticide products like diatomaceous earth (SiO2) and borax/boric acid.  (*Note: SiO2, is non-toxic and kills bugs mechanically by scratching the shells and making them slowly dry out. It can also scratch up your throat lining and give you a sore throat, so be careful when applying or using it.) Borax is great for ants, but must be mixed in the right proportion with sugary bait, less than 5%. It is also useful to treat for silverfish if impregnated into cardboard (which serves as food and home for them). Cinnamon kills ants. Peppermint oil deters some biting insects. Pepper or ammonia discourages and deters mammalian wildlife, such as squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and feral cats, as it gets in their nose and eyes, however it needs to be re-applied, occasionally. 

Moral of the story? Don’t focus on the emotionally laden terminology, or on ego-centered goals, but on following holistic (IPM) methods that take the whole story into account. Definitely seek professional assistance when needed, just like you might need a real plumber or electrician if you need a job done right. So going the DYI route is great if you know what you are doing, be it pest control, home renovation, electoral or plumbing work. It can be ineffective, counter-productive, or downright dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. As for products, whether you are using botanical, mineral, or synthetic products, follow the label carefully, and follow all safety precautions. By all means, live pest free as much as you can (I am talking about pests with more than 2 legs), and you can indeed do so without harming the natural environment or your own home or work environment.

Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, their radio program, blog, and more at: * Support the Brummets by telling your friends, clicking those social networking buttons, or visiting the Brummet's Store - and help raise funds for charity as well! 

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