I recently stopped by The Willis Report on Fox Business Network to discuss a frightening incident last month in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A Delaware family on vacation there was seriously sickened by exposure to an allegedly improperly applied pesticide.
A federal investigation into the incident has now expanded to Puerto Rico. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported there was evidence methyl bromide had been used improperly “at various locations” in Puerto Rico. No further detail on the locations was available.
The family of four from Wilmington had been staying in St. John at the Sirenusa Condiminium Resort in the second floor of a unit at whose first floor was sprayed with methyl bromide, officials have said, a pesticide that was banned for indoor residential use by the EPA in the 1980s.
While there was nothing the family could have done to avoid their exposure, there are ways to limit your own use of pesticides by instead using natural pest control methods.
The first step in addressing a pest problem is making sure that’s exactly what you have. Sometimes what appears to be a pest problem could be caused by something completely different, such as improper irrigation, poor drainage, or physical damage. So it’s important to take a close look at areas you believe to be infested, search the “symptoms” you’re seeing online and maybe compare photos to confirm that pests are the cause.
If you know what you’re dealing with, these pest-specific tips for natural pest control from The Family Handyman will help you give bugs the boot without the use of pesticides.
Ants: Discourage ants from entering your home by planting a barrier of mint around the foundation. Bay leaves also make great ant repellent: set whole bay leaves around kitchen food canisters, or sprinkle crushed bay leaves along windowsills.
Mosquitoes: Fend off annoying, disease-harboring mosquitoes with lemongrass and basil. Lemongrass contains citronella, so growing clumps of it around your deck or patio creates a mosquito-free zone. You can also mash up the inner leaves of the lemongrass plant and rub the juice on your skin for extra repellency power. Basil has the same effect, so plant it around your outdoor room, too.
Crickets: Try these DIY sticky traps. All you need to do is set out long strips of duct tape — sticky side up — in the cricket-infested room, and then change the tape as needed. To keep crickets out permanently, seal possible entrances by caulking around windows. And be sure to dehumidify all rooms, including the basement, because crickets like damp areas.
Whenever possible, it’s important to address the environmental conditions that are attracting the pests in the first place. So, to help control an ant problem, keep kitchen counters clean of crumbs, store food in secure containers, sweep floors often and cover your pet’s food bowl when not in use. To keep mosquitoes out of your yard, eliminate all sources of standing water, which is where they breed. To fight a carpenter bee problem, consider replacing your wood trim with a synthetic material that looks like wood but won’t tempt their taste buds.
With the right knowledge and some easy DIY solutions, you can use natural pest control methods to keep unwanted “visitors” out of your home and yard. Natural alternatives to pesticides can be just as effective while being much more people-, pet- and planet-friendly.