Despite our best efforts to keep our premises clean, pests still manage to get into our homes infesting the spaces. In such times, we often turn to DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Power Pest Control Toronto is the most convenient and the cheapest. Some of these are passed-down natural remedies from generations and relatives. For example, using lemongrass to repel mosquitoes or pandan leaves to deter cockroaches. Others might be commercial pest repellents such as bug sprays to spray onto the offending pest or setting traps around pest hotspots to catch them. DIY methods might be quick-fix solutions that allow us to tackle the pest problem immediately. However, that does not mean that they can get rid of pests in the long term. As such, this article will be a comprehensive guide to evaluating the effectiveness of DIY remedies. Furthermore, it provides information on long-term solutions to getting rid of pests.
Common DIY Pest Control Methods
In general, DIY pest management methods can be classified into two categories. The first refers to natural remedies that make use of common household products such as food and essential oils. The second category mainly consists of pest repellents developed for commercial use – bug spray, baits, and traps. Subsequently, this section will be split into the various types of DIY remedies, discuss why they repel pests, and evaluate their efficacy.
Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants that supposedly capture the plants’ scent or ‘essence’. Due to their pleasing scent, they are often used for aromatherapy. In addition, they may also be a component in bug sprays to disguise the strong smell of the chemicals used. There are some essential oils that have been found to repel pests. Examples include citronella (lemongrass), peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, neem, and lavender amongst others. They are either diffused throughout the room or used in a mixture of vinegar and soap water to wipe down surfaces. Essential oils are most often used to repel flying pests such as flies and mosquitoes. They have also been known to deter crawling pests including cockroaches, ants, and rats.
The reason why they repel pests is that the strong scent interferes with the insects’ sense of smell. Many pests have a keen sense of smell (which is their chemical signals) that they use to navigate towards food sources. For example, mosquitoes have an olfactory receptor that specifically detects the components in human sweat. On the other hand, ants lay down pheromones to food sources that other ants detect using their sense of smell. The scent of essential oils can be disorienting and confuse pests, thus repelling them away from our premises. Other essential oils (such as citronella and eucalyptus) mask the scents that pests are attracted to. That is why mosquito patches often contain citronella essential oil as it has shown effects in preventing mosquitoes from landing on humans.
Does essential oil work in getting rid of pests?
However, in most studies evaluating the effectiveness of essential oils, it was found that they could only repel pests for a maximum of 2 hours. After which, the pests are likely to return. Thus, essential oils can only get rid of pests for a short while. Moreover, many essential oils can be toxic for pets as they can interfere with their body chemistry. This includes popular oils for pest eradication such as eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree. In summary, essential oils may be a pleasant-smelling pest control method, but they are short-term solutions that do not eliminate the root source of the pest infestation.
Limiting food sources in the open is one of the most-repeated pest prevention tips. However, some food choices may turn pests away, thus making them perfect as a DIY pest control method. Foods such as basil leaves, pandan leaves, orange peels, garlic, and onions are often placed at entry points. They act as repellents to ward off pests like cockroaches, ants, rodents, and lizards. In addition, consuming certain food items has also been said to increase the likelihood of repelling pests that feast on human blood such as mosquitoes and bed bugs. Garlic has allicin, onions and tomatoes have thiamine, and citrus fruits have nootkatone – all of which have been observed to repel pests.
Food items work on the same principle as essential oils in that their strong smells often interfere with the pests’ sense of smell and may confuse them. However, placing food items around your premises is dangerous, as once they dry up or rot, they are no longer effective and may even become another food source that attracts pests! In addition, pests such as cockroaches favor decomposed or decaying matter, making them a perfect food choice for cockroach infestation. If you have small children and/or pets, placing such food items is not good either as they may consume them. Much like essential oils, food items only get rid of pests in the short term.
Overall, using food items as a pest control solution has more disadvantages than advantages. It is best to just clean up food spills and keep food items in sealed containers so that pests do not have access to them.
The two most common natural chemicals that are used in natural pest control remedies are boric acid, and Diatomaceous earth (DE).
Boric acid is a naturally occurring state of the chemical boron in rocks, water, and plants. It has many industrial and commercial uses and comes in the form of pellets, tablets, or powder. Many used boric acid for pest control, as it is highly abrasive to the exoskeletons of insects. Therefore, people either place the powder or create a mixture of boric acid and water to place them near pest entry points. The boric acid either sticks to the pests or is consumed – slowly tearing away at their exoskeletons and eliminating them. For cockroaches that feast on their dead, consuming dead cockroaches that contain boric acid can also kill them.
However, boric acid is highly irritating when it comes in contact with skin and eyes and has to be handled carefully. Ingestion by humans can cause vomiting and nausea. Moreover, boric acid does not work on rodents or lizards.
DE is a type of sand that contains fossilized silica remains of algae known as diatoms and works similarly to boric acid. DE’s abrasive properties can pierce the shells of insects’ exoskeletons, slowly dehydrating and killing them. As they are non-irritating and non-toxic to humans, they are a safer alternative to boric acid.
Compared to essential oils and food items, natural chemicals are more effective. They can eliminate pests rather than deter them away from premises. However, as pest colonies can be huge, they may not be completely eradicated. Consequently, using natural chemicals only works if you have a small number of pests and is not effective in controlling pest infestations.
Baits, Traps, and Insect Repellents
Insect repellents, the ones you spray on your skin are typically formulated with three chemicals – DEET (diethyltoluamide), picaridin, or oil of eucalyptus. They mask our scent and interfere with pests’ smell receptors so that they are not attracted to us. They are typically more effective than essential oils as they are more lasting but they would still need constant reapplication to remain effective.
Bug sprays – those that you spray on pests like cockroaches, ants, and mosquitoes are formulated with pyrethroids and carbamates. Both of them work to inhibit the nervous systems of the insects, thus paralyzing them and slowly killing them. That is why bug sprays are more effective than natural remedies at getting rid of pests as they actually serve as a “contact kill”, rather than just deter them from entering your premises.
However, insect repellents have limitations in their effectiveness as they only target the pests that you can see. Moreover, some pests develop resistance against chemicals over time, further reducing their effectiveness in getting rid of them. In addition, it eliminates the physical presence of pests rather than resolving the root source or breeding sites. Besides, the chemicals used are also toxic to humans especially when using a large amount, particularly when attempting to chase after fast-moving pests such as cockroaches that possess various strengths and capabilities in avoiding their predators.