Non-Toxic Pest Control Ideas That Work

by Sarah Green LivingComments: 86

natural pest controlErin, a reader from North Carolina, asked a pest control related question this week regarding a post I wrote titled Dementia and Diabetes Linked to Pesticides. She writes:

I wanted to ask you for ideas about pest control. We live in an apartment in NC and are having a roach problem (we’ve been killing 20, mostly babies per day—they are going wild in our kitchen and dining room at night). I don’t want to have our apartment sprayed with toxic pesticides especially because I have a 1 yr old and 3 yr old. I guess I need a pep talk from another natural mama about why I should not spray and some ideas of alternatives. I spray down the kitchen and dining area with an orange oil spray every morning and night to keep things clean and the orange oil is supposed to be a natural repellent. I also put boric acid in the sink before going to bed. I’m sure you know from living in the South how bad roaches can be! Any other tips? I am feeling a lot of pressure from friends and family to spray. One friend almost pleaded with me “for the sake of my family” to get the place sprayed by a professional! Maybe you could write a post about home pest control sometime if you have not written on that already.

Erin, I have written a related post called Green Herbicides and Pesticides for Your Yard, but I have not written one on nontoxic pest control for your home.   Thanks for the great idea!   Here’s how I keep pests at bay in my home in very buggy Florida!

Non-Toxic Pest Control (Homemade Roach and Ant Cookies)

Makes about 20 cookies

There is simply no need to use a pest control service for spraying toxic pesticides in and around your home to control roaches and ants.    A super simple solution is to make homemade roach and ant cookies that last for years.   Just be sure to hide them well and keep them away from the kids as they look like real cookies and you wouldn’t want one of your children taking a bite by accident!

We once had a bad roach problem in our old home when we remodeled the kitchen but these cookies took care of the problem within a few days.   The roaches begin to decline in number and eventually disappear completely never to be seen again!


1 cup flour

1 cup white sugar

1 cup boric acid (where to find)

1 egg


Mix all ingredients together to form a moist batter.  Add a bit of water if more moisture is needed to make a paste.   Form small cookies about 1 inch in diameter and place on parchment paper on cookie sheets.

Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes.   Let cool.   Hide cookies in the back of cabinets, in corners on the floor and anywhere else you have roach or ant problems.  They work great in garages too!

Store leftover cookies in a plastic ziplock back in an upper cabinet away from children and pets.  These cookies last for years and so make enough so that you only have to make this recipe one time!

Other Non-toxic Pest Control Ideas

While these roach and ant cookies work beautifully well for keeping pests out of your home, occasionally I will have some ants trailing under a patio door or around the front porch foraging for food. For these situations, I place a bay leaf right at the same spot the ants are trailing in to repel them away in another direction.

Ants do not like bay leaves – at least the ants in Florida!   This simple idea quickly and easily turns the ants around and sends them off foraging away from your house!  As for fire ants, they are a different kettle of fish. This article plus video shows how I control them very easily with no pesticides.

That’s it!  That’s all I do to keep pests away from my house.  Two simple ideas that work.   If worse comes to worse and your house is infested with more pests than just roaches or ants, be sure to call a green pest control company to fix the problem.  There are two in my local area and they cost anywhere from $300-$500/year depending on the size of your house.  Earth’s Best Natural Pest Control Management is one of the biggest in my state of Florida from what I understand, but I’m sure there are many others around the country.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

Natural Flea Infestation and Prevention Solutions

Spider Repellent Guaranteed to Work

Natural and Effective Bed Bug Removal Techniques

Safely Get Rid of Carpenter Ants in a Snap

Fast and Effective Fly Repellent

Quick and Easy Homemade Fly Trap

Fast Acting Mosquito Bite Remedy That’s Probably Already in Your Kitchen

Picture Credit

Comments (86)

  • karen

    Any ideas for scorpions??

    April 10th, 2015 9:47 am Reply
  • Julie

    Bee is a big problem around my house. I have tried a lot to control their presence but they are increasing everyday. I am thinking about calling a pest control company to control them. I think these are bees are already out of my control.

    January 27th, 2015 6:55 pm Reply
  • Denise

    What about something natural for termites?

    September 22nd, 2014 12:37 am Reply
  • Clementine Cuppen via Facebook

    I love all your great ideas Sarah, thank you.

    September 17th, 2014 8:07 pm Reply
  • Wendy Leigh-Bell via Facebook

    Years ago I left boric acid on all the paths used by the little fellows. It took a while but they disappeared never to be seen again. Apparently they take it into the walls where they live and ingest it when they clean themselves. It interferes with their ability to shed the exoskeleton as they grow. Or so I have been told. Cost was next to nothing.

    September 17th, 2014 7:46 pm Reply
  • Keith Gillie via Facebook

    If it kills ants a roaches it would be toxic.

    September 17th, 2014 10:47 am Reply
  • Elizabeth Phillips via Facebook

    Would these work with scorpions?

    September 17th, 2014 7:41 am Reply
  • Jennifer Sirois Scherer via Facebook

    any suggestions for pantry moths

    September 17th, 2014 4:31 am Reply
  • Sonia

    I’m desperate for a natural spider repellent that reeeeally works.

    September 17th, 2014 12:16 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      If you have a lot of cardboard boxes around the house, this *really* attracts them.

      September 17th, 2014 9:04 am Reply
    • vivian

      for these roach bait cookies i would add a color to the ingredients like dark blue so the children wouldn’t assume it could be a yummy treat for them.

      September 17th, 2014 10:10 am Reply
  • Sarah Crandall via Facebook

    I think Texas could give you a run for cockroach capital…

    September 16th, 2014 11:17 pm Reply
  • Vinz @ Termite Control

    Great article! I tried your tips yesterday and it really worked for me, though I’m still in the process of observing the outcome of it and so far it is quite effective. Thanks for sharing.

    August 28th, 2014 3:52 am Reply
  • Harry Ridinger

    I really wonder how @Sarah could have allow this @kristine to promote an affiliate link here. I think she did not notice it carefully. But as far as this post is concern, I am always for using natural pest control ideas instead of using chemicals. There are so many side effects of chemicals which can harm anyone living in that house.

    January 25th, 2014 8:44 am Reply
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    July 5th, 2013 10:04 am Reply
  • J

    I made the mistake of burning the bottoms of my cookies but used them anyhow. I hope they nibble on them anyhow and we’ll see what happens.

    April 7th, 2013 10:31 pm Reply
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  • Stacy

    I was just wondering if Erin ever had any luck when it came to getting rid of the roaches with the cookies. I want to try them but want to see if any one else is having any luck with them Thanks so much….

    August 10th, 2012 2:36 pm Reply
  • Sylvia S

    Cucumber peels work!
    Years ago I lived in an apartment that became infested with cockroaches (my landlord had purchased another building that was infested, removed the carpets from the other building, and stored those carpets in the basement of our building).

    Upon my sister’s advice, I started putting fresh cucumber peels in my kitchen cupboards every day (about a quarter of a cucumber used daily), using the cucumber itself in my daily salad. I left the peels in the cupboards until they dried out.

    Within two weeks my cockroach problem was gone. There was never any dead cockroaches lying around so I presume the cucumber peels repelled the roaches and didn’t kill them. My neighbor wasn’t so lucky, they continued to have cockroach problems for months and months after I had successfully rid my apartment of the roaches. Why my neighbors ignored my advice I will never know.

    May 30th, 2012 5:30 pm Reply
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    September 2nd, 2011 4:04 am Reply
  • pest control services north carolina

    Actually, this is a great idea from yours. And yeah, for the safest health of our children, we must not put any pesticides that could harm our children’s health..Homemade Roach and Ant Cookies is the best way in killing those cockroach without harmful effect in our side…I would definitely endorse this one to my friend.Thanks for sharing your thought with us.

    September 2nd, 2011 1:21 am Reply
  • Linda

    I’ve been dealing with ants in my kitchen for too long now. I tried your cookie recipe, only I used borax powder. It didn’t occur to me you said boric acid. I don’t know if it’s the same thing or not. I put a cookie out on the counter where they are and they came to it at first, but then they ignored it. The cookie dries out fast and gets hard so maybe I need to get boric acid? I’m so frustrated I am about ready to call an exterminator.

    July 26th, 2011 9:57 am Reply
  • Rachel

    i wanted to come back and leave another comment telling you how the cookies worked for me:
    We’ve been seeing a lot of roaches lately. I also had ants invade my pantry the night before this posted. I had dusted a few corners in the kitchen with boric acid, but didn’t want to use too much because of the kids in my house. Also, the little I used didn’t seem to have any effect.

    I made the cookies and oh my goodness! They are amazing little things! I don’t think they turned out the way they should have – they spread out into one large mass on the cookie sheet (plus I accidentally burned one batch). But I thought I’d try it anyway. I tore off three small pieces and put them under shelving along one wall of the garage. It was about midnight when I finished and put them out. First thing the next morning, I decided to check them. One cookie was dusty. One was covered in both live and dead ants, with more ants trailing back and forth – they were definitely having a party over there! The last cookie? Was gone. It’s nowhere to be found. I’m guessing the roaches stole it.

    The best part? Is that with those three bits of bait I left in the garage, I have not seen any more ants in the house and I have not seen a single roach since then, alive or dead. I do want to put a few in the attic, but I don’t feel a rush to do so. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! We were about to break down and have someone come out to spray the house and now it’s not needed. Again, THANK YOU!

    June 21st, 2011 10:54 am Reply
  • Donnie Norris

    Thanks for all the information. I love this website. Lots of good information. I wish I could have found it earlier. I just made the ant-roach cookies, now to try them out. We don’t have roaches but the little black ants are a problem. I loved the webpage about doctors and their kickbacks. I came to this site for the bread recipes. Now I’m hooked. Yes, some men love to cook too. You have a faithful follower. You are bookmarked!

    June 12th, 2011 4:55 pm Reply
  • Nickole

    We are very interested in other solutions regarding bug control as we live in the woods and have plenty! We recently started carrying Diatomaceous Earth in our store, so I am excited about finally putting this to the test especially on ant hills outside. We have never had our house sprayed. We usually use the baits, but in this economy, it sure seems expensive compared to other means mentioned here. Sarah, your bat house is very intriguing to me! Where do you get one, and will they always attract bats? I am totally intrigued! Mosquitoes here are viscous and we refuse to use chemical sprays on our bodies too, so we use essential oils and such, but it would be nice to have some mosquito eaters around. :)

    Nickole @

    June 11th, 2011 8:35 pm Reply
  • Hannah

    Was wondering what would be wrong with using Combat roach houses? Since there is no spray, nothing is left behind. I have found them to be very effective in eliminating my roach problem, and I can rest easier that the kids won’t get into them. I find the homemade cookie bait to be too chancy since I have four small kids and they are up into my cabinets sometimes as well.
    I have also used cinnamon sticks in my cabinets and in my sugar bowl to very effectively ward off ants. I found out recently that it is the oil that they cannot tolerate. Other herbs such as peppermint would work as well. When the smell from the essential oil wears off, they need to be changed.

    June 11th, 2011 8:12 pm Reply
  • Nancy Webster

    Sarah! COOKIE BAKING PROBLEM! I just spent 1.5 hours putting a double batch’s worth of the roach cookies onto three cookie sheets, consoling myself throughout the tedious process by imagining how wonderful it’ll be to be roach-free again. I baked them at 350 for 10 minutes, and was totally dismayed to find they’d melted and bubbled into a huge mess. Is that b/c I topped the cookie sheets with aluminum foil rather than parchment paper? Or is it b/c it wound up requiring about 3/4 cup water (double batch) in order to stick together? Or is it b/c I put my 1″ diameter cookies too close together on the cookie sheets? I’ve now transferred the messy masses into our dehydrator to take out the rest of the liquid and in hopes this will salvage the contents.

    BTW, we first tried to buy the boric acid at Lowe’s. They said they do not sell “pure” boric acid and recommended Dollar General Store, where we found it for just $2/16 oz.

    June 11th, 2011 7:58 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    I was about to write to ask you this same question! The roaches are driving me batty and just yesterday I found ants having a party on my pantry floor. I also found about 50 winged ants dead in my bathtub upstairs. Not sure how they got there or how they died!

    I guess I’ll do some baking tomorrow!

    June 10th, 2011 10:57 pm Reply
  • Mama Chicken

    Great post! We’ve had good success with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap mixed with water. We had originally tried it out on our Apple tree seedlings to combat whatever was munching on them. We’ve some kind of earwig population explosion after a very wet winter (biblical proportions – really) and the peppermint soap/water mixture is helping out substantially as a barrier.

    June 10th, 2011 8:06 pm Reply
  • Jenny

    Sarah, many thanks for this post. We’ve suddenly been seeing the occasional large roach in our house, and I want them outta here!

    June 10th, 2011 7:56 pm Reply
  • Jenn @ Dishrag Diaries

    I apologize if you get this comment twice, I’m having issues. Anyway, two quick questions:
    1. We’ve used the ultrasonic, plug-in pest repellers in our basement, and they seem to be effective for spiders. Any concerns about these that I’m not thinking of?
    2. Isn’t boric acid quite toxic? I know it’s rated an 8 at EWG, but I guess cosmetic use is different, where you’d be rubbing it on your skin… just wanted to get your further thoughts on this.

    As always, THANK YOU!

    June 10th, 2011 5:47 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Jenn, those ultrasonics are fine from what I know but I personally don’t like them on all the time in my house as I’m not sure what the long term affects might be. In a barn or garage would be good, I’m guessing.

      Boric acid is toxic but it used to be recommended as a food soak mixed with warm water for infections and the like. It is a good antiseptic. It is one of the least toxic chemicals you can use to kill pests around the home.

      June 10th, 2011 6:53 pm Reply
  • Kay

    I don’t have a problem but have heard that putting cornmeal out for ants is effective. They take it back to the nest and eat it but it is not nutritious for them and the nest starves. Does anyone have experience with this??

    June 10th, 2011 3:05 pm Reply
  • Nathalie

    Well about flea, you can handle your pet with grapefruit seed extract. Just pour some of it in your hand and put it on your animal. Chamomile is a good insect repellent, so you can put chamomile tea bags in the house, that will help the flea go to your neighbor 😉

    Spider don’t like tomato greens. Ask people who grow tomato, they have nos spiders in that area. So try to find someone growing tomatoes (or buy tomatoes with some stalk). Dry the green part and put it at strategic places (windows, doors, bathroom). I still have spiders, but less than I used to.

    And thanks for all your other tips :)

    June 10th, 2011 5:23 am Reply
  • Karolee

    How about earwigs? Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find a way to get rid of the darn things, they infest my strawberries and my house. Ick!

    June 10th, 2011 2:48 am Reply
  • Erin

    My roach cookies are baking in the oven now. It does feel VERY strange to be baking poison cookies! Sweet revenge!

    June 9th, 2011 9:27 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Erin, thanks for checking in. Please update us over the next few days to a week as the roaches slowly disappear and how things are going.

      June 9th, 2011 9:29 pm Reply
  • Aimee

    We have the bug guy come 4 times a year and hes sprays in all the rooms around the corners and also outside and around the house. they say it is safe. Are there truly side effects for us and our children? What are some of them. This is new to me. I had thought about it, but may have to do something different.

    June 9th, 2011 7:53 pm Reply
  • Donna Cat via Facebook

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    June 9th, 2011 7:40 pm Reply
  • Cynthia

    Here’s a pest contol solution you can eat!

    June 9th, 2011 5:50 pm Reply
  • Bess

    Any advice on getting rid of ticks?
    I think they must be living in my house, because we get them on us every day, even if we don’t go outside. It is really concerning me since I have an 11 month old.

    June 9th, 2011 4:01 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      We had a tick infestation many years ago when our dog brought them in the house. I went to a dry ice company and got a chunk of dry ice and left it open in the area where the ticks were. The ticks are attracted to the evaporating dry ice as it gives off carbon dioxide (the same thing mammals exhale) and they come right to the box and then you scoop them up and flush them down the toilet.

      June 9th, 2011 4:13 pm Reply
  • Anita Messenger via Facebook

    Fly swatter and a spray bottle with strong soapy water – between those two, it gets most of what I battle with including fire ants (my Rainbow vacuum cleaner is good for sucking them up, too). Mice and cockroaches…haven’t found any “natural” way of getting them really good other than mouse traps for the mice. Keeping the house clean and uncluttered goes a long way in keeping down the pests. We tell the grandkids to be careful about dropping food on the floor (no carpets) so they don’t feed the fireants. They know what those are!

    June 9th, 2011 2:31 pm Reply
  • laura b

    we’ve been having a lot of ants this year. i’ve been putting a line of cinnamon across the entrance and a bowl of sugar outside. my plan was to pull the bowl of sugar farther and farther away from the house but i ended up not needing to.

    June 9th, 2011 1:40 pm Reply
  • Cristi

    I have used Bay leaves with success as well. I dropped a bay leaf in each air conditioning vent and then also tucked them where the carpet meets the baseboard. You can usually shove them up under there and they won’t be seen. I read somewhere else that you can make a strong bay leaf tea and spray it around the baseboards too. I am going to try that soon. It has kept roaches at bay quite nicely!

    June 9th, 2011 1:10 pm Reply
  • Katie @ Wellness Mama

    I love the idea of making them into cookies. I’ve mixed borax and sugar in the past and it works too, but is more messy. Also, for ants (indoor or out) sprinkling diatomaceous earth will get rid of them quickly. Its messy too but won’t hurt humans. You can dump it directly on ant hills too. I’m working on compiling some of my favorite tips for getting rid of flies, which are coming in in droves right now with our garden veggies!
    great post!

    June 9th, 2011 12:47 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      The oils in the egg attract the oil loving ants and the sugar attracts the sugar loving ones so the cookies get both types of ants as well as roaches with one type of cookie!

      June 9th, 2011 1:41 pm Reply
  • Nora

    Does anyone know of a safe and reliable flea control product? We just had a problem with fleas on my little dog…I used essential oils of cedar, peppermint, pennyroyal, and tea tree. Then sprinkled the floors, bedding, etc. with diatomaceous earth (food grade). This finally got rid of the fleas ( I HOPE!) but my dog has sores on her that are weeping and driving her nuts! I had to bathe her again to get it all cleaned off of her. I tried treating the boo boos with tea tree oil, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I am hoping a good bath will help. Poor Baby Dog! My back has also about had it from all of the bathing! ;D

    June 9th, 2011 12:39 pm Reply
    • Jamie

      Three years ago my husband and I lived in an apartment complex built on a poorly filled in swamp and dealt with the flea infestation from hell. Our border collie puppy was tiny and we tried everything to protect him – baking soda in the carpets, every all-natural flea bath and repellent we could find – you name it! We finally broke down and put him on Frontline. He hasn’t had a single flea since and shows no bad reactions to the product. Although that was a last resort for us, it has been a sanity saving option for us and him since we continue to live in apartment complexes and have few options.

      June 9th, 2011 3:50 pm Reply
  • Kelly

    Good for her for looking for safer options and thanks for posting. My grandfather loved his chemicals. He put DDT on the joists of his house when he built it. He had a whole shed full of chemicals that were no longer in use because they were dangerous. I remember stories of him pouring a pile of malathion or something on a slug just to see it bubble.

    He died of a rare Leukemia.

    Yes, it is worth searching out safer options!

    June 9th, 2011 12:31 pm Reply
    • Lynne

      Decades ago we had a small jar of malathion that we’d gotten for the garden (before we wised up). It got knocked off a shelf in the tool shed which had a plywood floor. We cleaned it up and didn’t get anymore because we’d decided by then we didn’t want that kind of junk on our food. Two YEARS later, my sister was visiting and brought her Great Pyrenees pup she’d gotten from us. He was about three months old by then and good sized. We were standing in the shed, eating sandwiches (we’d gone in there for some reason) and we dropped some bread on the floor for the pup. Next thing we knew he was laid out having a seizure! We were floored! Then I got to looking at the floor and I could see where he had licked it a little bit right where that malation had spilled. I believe it was still there strong enough to do that to that dog even after two years going by and with us walking all over that floor with our shoes, etc. That pup died by the time he was six months old from an acute distemper (and yes, he was vaccinated – my sister had that done). I don’t know if it was connected to the malation exposure or not, but it sure makes you wonder. And yes, that stuff can still be in your house/wood a LONG time later apparently.

      June 9th, 2011 3:27 pm Reply
    • Angela

      Thanks for posting this. Sometimes I wonder if it’s really worth the extra hassle and effort.

      June 9th, 2011 3:47 pm Reply
  • Krystin Rowley via Facebook

    A giant wasp just got in via a skylight.

    June 9th, 2011 12:28 pm Reply
  • Kim

    For mice or bats in homes/garages/attics there is a product out there called “Mouse Magic” or “Bat Magic”… Basically they are bags of mint, that you hang in the location where you are having the problem. The mint smells so strongly that the mice/bats/etc cant handle it and leave.

    Another option for rodent and bug (think slugs in particular!) is beer or soda. Most of those creatures are unable to burp or pass gas in the same way humans are so the carbonation in the beer or soda kills them. But that means you are killing them not just repelling.

    Ants are very difficult to get rid of because you can’t kill the colony unless you are able to kill the queen. She is often between 2 and 10 feet below the surface and is very difficult to kill. For most pests, oil or soap, diluted and sprayed on them will kill them. It acts by disrupting their waxy exoskeleton and dehydrating them or smothering them so they are unable to breathe (they breathe through small openings in the sides of their bodies). Oils and soaps are generally non-toxic to humans.

    There are also some bacterial products that you can spray on plants which insects are eating that will kill them (ie. Bt or Spinosid) It is more questionable how non-toxic they are, and how safe for beneficials they are. However, it is just a bacterial product, so I would think so long as you are careful with your application you would be ok. These bacteria sometimes are specific and target only certain pests or others are rather broad spectrum and will kill any insect that ingests them.

    Just some additional suggestions!

    June 9th, 2011 12:24 pm Reply
  • Sue

    How do you stop a 1-year old from eating them if they look like cookies? I suppose you could use food dye to colour them and distinguish them from cookies, but would the bugs still like them and more importantly – is that going to stop a 1-year old?

    June 9th, 2011 12:21 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hide them up high in cabinets.

      June 9th, 2011 3:38 pm Reply
  • Sarah Smith

    Some more ideas that have worked for us:
    -Put some peppermint essential oil or a peppermint tea bag where ants are coming in. They are repelled by mint.
    -Spray trails of ants with soapy water in a spray bottle (Dawn dishsoap).
    -Buy the No-Poison traps made by Victor (sold on Amazon). These work great for capturing any creepy crawlies in the house, especially roaches and spiders (I like spiders, but I’d rather not have roaches).
    -Pour vinegar into ant hills (beware, this will also kill nearby plants).

    DE has not worked well for us in our yard (we have lots of ants, and of course they want to be in the kids’ play area).

    June 9th, 2011 11:43 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Sarah, I haven’t tried the vinegar on the ant piles. I will have to try that instead. I’ve been using a tea kettle full of boiling water poured into the hole at the center of the ant pile. One or two tea kettles full of boiling water do the trick every time.

      June 9th, 2011 12:30 pm Reply
    • Helen

      French ants seem not to like cinnamon. I got this tip from an American friend. I dusted it with a teaspoon and strainer along all the French windows and thresholds on the outside, to form a barrier they would have to walk over. No more ants – it was immediate. But needs redoing every couple of weeks (only 5 minutes, and I’d rather not kill them if we can live in peace…!)

      June 9th, 2011 1:47 pm Reply
      • Grynae

        We’ve used baby powder to get rid of indoor ants. Just sprinkling it in the cracks where they are getting in and around where they are trailing to. If it gets on them them seem disoriented and they just run around in circles. Love it. And we leave it for a week or so to prevent them from coming back, then just clean up with a vacuum.

        October 18th, 2011 1:00 pm Reply
  • D.

    The DE will likely work outdoors around the foundation, but it must be reapplied quite often for the first year or two. It has a tendency to soak into the ground and then it isn’t as effective. We mixed tabasco sauce in with our DE and used it outdoors in front of the patio doors at night and it even worked for red ants. I don’t know about cock roaches because we don’t have those. Not many folks do up here in the hinterlands!

    I’m wondering if the “cookie” idea might work better if you didn’t bake them?? I would think the sugar might be more apt to be the killer here and might be better served if it was unheated. Just a thought.

    June 9th, 2011 11:35 am Reply
  • Jill Nienhiser

    I would love to find good nontoxic mosquito control for my yard. I do my best to ensure no standing water. But it’s just miserable outside, at any time of day now that the new Asian tiger mosquitoes are here. They aren’t just out from dusk to dawn, but all day including midday summer heat. Can’t water my tomatoes without them all over me in seconds.

    I have a small townhouse so I tried spraying both my yard, and as much of the two neighbors’ yards as I could reach with my hose with this “organic mosquito control” product I got at Lowe’s. It’s mostly essential oils. I am wondering if I have to use several applications over a number of weeks to really break the cycle–but won’t they just keep coming from the further neighbors’ yards? Ugh…miserable. And i love to be outside in warm weather.

    June 9th, 2011 11:22 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Bat house! We have a bad house mounted on a dead tree in the front yard and it has 3 bats in it that patrol our property every evening at dusk. No mosquitoes! It is wonderful to be able to sit outside and enjoy the evening without getting eaten alive.

      June 9th, 2011 12:21 pm Reply
    • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

      Many edible herb plants deter mosquitos. Thyme, rosemary, basil, and others. Plant them around your yard — great for you, kid-safe — and the mosquitos may go away. I posted on this on Monday.

      June 9th, 2011 12:53 pm Reply
    • Lynne

      Keeping water dumped out of flower pots, etc., no puddles in your driveway, etc. helps with mosquito control, yes. And keep grass mowed short. We are constantly watching for anything that might be a mosquito incubater around the place. We have bats, too, but we don’t know where they are living. And dragonflies! Lots of dragonflies, the marvelous mosquito predator! Sometimes our pastures by the house look like dragonfly city out there. We have ponds, too. Toads – we encourage them to be in our yard, ponds, etc. We tell our grandkids, “Toads are our friends!”.

      June 9th, 2011 3:17 pm Reply
  • Audrey

    For ants I’ve had good luck using this mixture:
    Bacon grease/cooked bacon pieces
    Ants are generally either sugar loving or fat loving, so this will attract both kinds, then the borax kills them.
    I don’t remember the proportions, but I know I mixed it up in a 20 oz glass – so mostly water, a few tbs of sugar to make it sweet, same with the grease. Probably either a tsp or tbs of the borax. If you use too much borax they won’t eat it, so start lighter rather than heavier. My ants were coming in through the garage, so I put enough of this to cover the bottom of a pie plate and placed it where I saw ants in the garage. I soon had a literal graveyard-massacre of ants all around it in the garage, just thousands of them all dead on the floor!

    June 9th, 2011 11:21 am Reply
    • Audrey

      Of course, place somewhere so kids & pets can’t get at it!

      June 9th, 2011 11:22 am Reply
      • Lynne

        We mostly have trouble with fire ants – lots of trouble (we live in SW Arkansas)! I use my Rainbow vacuum to suck them up and they drown. Sometimes I put out a plate with some butter smeared on it and set it on the floor. I call it a bait plate. :-) When a good mob of ants are on it, I suck them up. The butter sticks to the plate so it can be used over and over as the ants keep coming. You get enough of them and you will kill the nest as there aren’t enough workers to feed the queens then so they starve. I also spray them with strong soapy water that I keep in a spray bottle. They drown. Works on other things, too. If they mob my counter top/stove, and I don’t have the vacuum together, I use the soapy water. If they are around the burners, I turn on the fire and they burn. My kitchen is full of them right now – they are everywhere. I’ve learned to keep most foods in containers they cannot get in or else in the freezer or fridge. They ate a bag of brown sugar in my cupboard a few years ago – I’d not even opened it yet because I rarely use it. They ate holes through the plastic bag and took it. They love meat and fats – I have to watch my bottles of olive oil. They get under the caps and right into the oil, the varmints! And our raw fermented honey, too. One summer I had to set a five gallon bucket in water in the bathtub to keep the ants from going after it. I won’t spray (not even in my garden) so I find other ways to deal with them. Boiling soapy water can work on an outdoor anthill if you use something to tear it up first – like the poker for the woodstove. But you also kill the good bugs, etc. in the soil doing that so I don’t like to if I can help it. We’ve done things like turn a couple of small pigs into our garden for the winter – they can smell the food nests and the ants and they go after them, rooting up the soil. The ant bites don’t seem to bother the pigs at all. Turning the soil over while it’s cold and winter like that also freezes the ants. The pigs got down deep and did a good job. That spring I didn’t have the ant problem for several months until they were able to build up their numbers again. They are bad in the garden – like one giant ant nest because they have the food and the soft soil there. We don’t usually have pigs or eat them plus we have raised beds with bricks so using the pigs every winter isn’t something we want to have to do. And it’s getting harder and harder to get pigs now that the government is taking control of the animals. If the ant cookies will work for fire ants, too, I’m sure going to try them!

        June 9th, 2011 2:53 pm Reply
        • Lynne

          A word of warning about fire ants – they apparently like electricity for some reason. We have farmer friends who have had them ruin electrical boxes for chicken houses, grain bins, etc. We had them get in the walls of our mobile home. We didn’t realize that’s what was happening, we just knew we were dealing with a lot of ants in the bedroom/house and when the woodstove would get the house nice and warm, the ants would swarm in the house! They fly when they do that. We ended up waiting until we had some days coming in the winter that were going to be clear but very cold, especially at night. My husband took off the outer walls (easy to do on a mobile home with no siding) just before dark. He did spray the insulation where the ants were living so they wouldn’t just drop to the ground and get away – or get on him. That drove them to the inside of the house where I waited with the Rainbow. For several days I sucked up ants as they tried to get away from the cold outside. Most of them froze. When no more ants were showing up, we put the walls back on the outside. That was several years ago and so far, they’ve not done that again. They got in another part of the house and had an ant interstate going across my living room floor. I literally sat on a chair and sucked up ants with the Rainbow as they went back and forth. At times I counted them as I sucked and would get into the thousands before I stopped counting. After two weeks of this (!), I was amazed to think that the ants I was sucking up were all new ants, not the ones that had already been sucked up. The floor is 12 feet across so they had a long ways to go from wall to wall. Finally they started thinning out. I’d go away and come back to check and suck up some more. By the third week I wasn’t seeing any more and I haven’t since then. I killed the nest by doing that. That was three summers ago.

          June 9th, 2011 3:12 pm Reply
  • Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    I am wondering if you ever use the cookies or bay leaves outside. Wouldn’t they just get wet in rain?

    I am going to check out the DE, but I am discouraged that the other commenter said that it didn’t work for her. :(.

    June 9th, 2011 11:01 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I use the bay leaves on the porch but they are under cover. They do sometimes blow away in the wind, but I just put another one down. I do not use the cookies outside.

      I have not had much luck with the DM.

      June 9th, 2011 12:20 pm Reply
  • Ronnie

    We live where brown recluse spiders are everywhere – I would love to know if there is actually a way to be rid of them in the house. My in-laws sprayed every few months and didn’t have them, but I don’t want to use the chemicals in our home.

    June 9th, 2011 10:59 am Reply
    • Rebekah

      I have been having the same problem. We just found out that we have a brown recluse infestation in our house (I found 4 this week in our bedrooms) and so I ended up calling pest control to try to get a handle on it. It sounds like the best way to keep them at bay are glue traps. They get stuck on them and it is a great way to tell if you have a problem. We did have a couple of glue traps down (though we probably need a bunch more) and they exterminated was able to tell that we had an infestation by just looking at them and realizing that their were a bunch on them. (We are new to our area and didn’t realize that they were brown recluise or we would have acted faster. ) It also helps to have no other insects inside so that they have nothing to live on.

      June 9th, 2011 8:32 pm Reply
  • T.

    I live in North Carolina and did not want to rely on any toxic pesticides to take care of all the ants, wood roaches, ( or as some people nicely call them “palmetto bugs”) camel crickets and other bugs that our house is plagued with but after trying every thing I knew about at the time,(including DE) and not having any success, I called a Pest Control place that used non-toxic stuff. The guy did the entire exterior of the house, as well as the interior (closets, attic space, cupboards and floorboards) and he said it was about as dangerous as table salt. He does not wear gloves or a mask as he spreads the powder and the company claims it is safe for animals and children, which was a concern that I had. I have not had ANY problems with roaches or ants or any other bug since. The company is called Bulwark but if these cookies work then there is no need to rely on any company!

    June 9th, 2011 10:52 am Reply
  • Grandma Betty

    Do any of the solutions work on scorpions? How about mice? We live on 3 acres and have mice getting into our garage and some outer walls. The scorpions are really bad this time of year.

    June 9th, 2011 10:44 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      We have coyotes in our neighborhood so no mice problems from what I’ve been able to see. We used to have fruit rats that loved to climb my citrus trees and munch on the fruit but haven’t seen them in a few years too – probably due to the coyotes.

      June 9th, 2011 12:19 pm Reply
      • Lynne

        We live in the boonies with no close neighbors – we have coyotes galore *out there* and cats and miniature dachsunds in the yards by the houses (these dogs are real good mousers as well as other things). Despite this, we still have mice get in our houses on a regular basis. I keep a small box of poison pellets in an out of the way place in the kitchen at all times because of this. We had one running around in here just two weeks ago but he found the poison (we check to see if it’s being eaten) and he’s disappeared now. They can do so much damage if you don’t keep up with keeping them out of the house. We live in mobile homes so they aren’t even down on the ground. I don’t know how the mice run the gauntlet to even find a way into my house, but they do! We have owls, too, and chickens that run the yard. We have trouble with kittens making it to adulthood in the barn because the Dachsunds see them as “rats” when they are little. They don’t bother the grown cats at all. We haven’t seen a rat in years and years though. The cats go after those, too.

        June 9th, 2011 2:40 pm Reply
  • Danielle

    I assume the cakes would not work on spiders? Any ideas there? We get wolf and wood spiders (think Tarantulas only brown) ugh! I can handle most bugs but cannot stand waking up to these in my house so we are treated quaterly. Now that we have a lo crawling around it concerns me about the pesticides.


    June 9th, 2011 10:40 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      We have a lot of spiders too. They run in the house at night when the door opens. Pesticides don’t work on them from what I’ve been told.

      Spiders love cardboard, so getting rid of the cardboard boxes anywhere in the home really helps keep them at bay because if they do find their way in, they will find a way out with no cardboard to chew on.

      June 9th, 2011 12:17 pm Reply
  • Erica

    Hi Sarah,

    My family had to get rid of a bug infestation through a professional about a year ago. Could the chemicals still be present in the house?

    June 9th, 2011 10:38 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Some of these chemicals do take awhile to break down. How long depends on the chemicals used. The soil half life for DDT for example is anywhere from a month or so to 30 years. Inside a home where there isn’t any rain, wind etc to breakdown the chemicals would require longer but that’s just a guess.

      June 9th, 2011 12:15 pm Reply
      • Erica

        Hi Sarah,

        The extermination was done inside the house (I know, horrible). The exterminator stated that the chemicals will be potent only for a few months. I hope the chemicals are not present in my house anymore.

        June 9th, 2011 12:53 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    Another great, natural product is Diatomaceous Earth. It’s food safe – you can actually use it to rid yourself of parasites and intestinal worms as well. It’s made of small ancient sea bed fossils that are ground up. They cut into the skeletons of bugs with exo-skeletons and then they dry out from dehydration. So, this is also a safe, kid friendly/safe option. You just have to put in on the areas where they come into your home – they simply need to walk through it and it will work. We purchased ours from an Indoor Growers shop – like where they sell lights and other equipment for growing plants inside, hydroponically – stuff like that. This is a pretty good link that talks about DE and it’s benefits and uses.

    June 9th, 2011 10:35 am Reply
  • Emma

    What about fire ant nests near houses? Or wasp/hornet/bee (non-honeybee) nests near houses? I have no problem with these bugs as long as they aren’t by my house but, at least everywhere I’ve seen in TX, there are extreme problems with them living near houses since it’s usually cooler and less windy.

    June 9th, 2011 9:21 am Reply
    • Elizabeth

      When I was a kid my grandmother used to pour boiling water down the fire ants nests. that seemed to work although it won’t deter them from building in the first place. We have wasp nests being built all the time on and around our home because it’s log and they like the wood. My husband just goes out at night and knocks them down when they’re quiet. And he tries to get to them before they get too big. It might just take vigilance to keep them away. And you can try those traps with nectar in them that trap the wasps once they enter. That seems to work in our yard too. We’re in upstate NY.

      June 9th, 2011 1:29 pm Reply

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