By Allie Garnham
In the average American home, there are around 100 different kinds of bugs, including insects, spiders and mites. No matter how clean your home is, you are sharing it with many different creatures, but because most of them are out of sight and completely benign, you can live happily alongside them. However, some bugs are more obtrusive, and if left unchecked, can contaminate your food, cause allergies and asthma attacks, and bite you while you’re sleeping. Some can even destroy the fabric of your home. If you identify an infestation of nuisance bugs in your home, it is possible to remove it safely without the use of toxic chemicals contaminating your home and posing a further danger to health or the environment.
They are one of the most diverse of all insects, varying widely in size and color, but all cockroaches are undesirable in the home. There is some evidence to suggest that a certain amount of exposure to some bugs and their microbial diversity can help build up immunity to modern ailments. However, cockroaches may carry bacteria that can cause salmonella, and other illnesses if they are left on food, and their droppings and outer cuticles can be a trigger for allergies and asthma. To remove cockroaches humanely, a homemade cockroach trap is a safe alternative to pesticides, and can be created simply with a strong sweet bait and a large jar. A ramp on the outside of the jar will allow cockroaches to enter while oil rubbed around the top of the jar will prevent them from climbing out. To eradicate them more directly, adding baking soda to a sugary bait will cause a reaction in the cockroaches digestive systems, causing them to die.
A survey carried out by the National Pest Management Association found that 20% of Americans have experienced a bedbug infestation in their home or encountered bedbugs in a hotel room. Bedbugs can be easily picked up while traveling, and do not discriminate between a clean or dirty home. They can be found hiding in cracks and crevices in walls and baseboards, but at night they will take refuge in your mattress to feed while you sleep. Bedbug bites are not usually considered dangerous, but will cause itching, and may lead to a more severe allergic reaction. If you have an infestation, steam cleaning is an effective, non-toxic way to remove bedbugs. By exposing bugs to 20 minutes of steam above 118℉, all the life stages (including the eggs) will be destroyed.
As well as being a danger to your health, some insects can even destroy the fabric of your home. Woodworm refers to the larva of several different species of wood boring beetle. The beetles lay their eggs within wooden furniture or floorboards, and the larvae then feed on the wood before emerging and repeating the process. Strong chemicals aren’t always needed to eradicate woodworm, and in some cases, pesticides also kill spiders, the beetles’ natural predator. The larvae prefer moist wood, so it’s a good idea to ensure your home’s humidity is kept at low levels. The smell of acorns is attractive to some beetles and can be used as a form of decoy, enticing them to lay their eggs inside the nuts instead of in woodwork. Other strong smells are repellent to the beetles, so directly injecting furniture with mint or rosemary essential oils will help to eliminate the larvae inside.
We live surrounded by hundreds of insects, the majority of which are harmless and go completely unnoticed. Infestations of bugs that can bite or contaminate food are undesirable, but they can still be removed in a safe way without harming the environment and filling your home with unhealthy, toxic chemicals.
This post was previously published on Earthtalk.
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