The warmer weather of springtime often means that a lot of creepy-crawlies that have been hibernating or whatever they do over winter start to come out again. The bees are beginning to buzz outside, the butterflies are flittering around… and the flies are starting to buzz around your kitchen. How do you deter insect pests in your home without resorting to calling in one of those professionals that zaps your home with masses of long-lasting poison that kills flies and spiders, all right, but probably doesn’t do you any good?
1. Keep your kitchen clean. Flies and other vermin are attracted to old food, so if you’ve left the dishes out overnight or have left smears and crumbs all over the bench, they’ll come. Don’t forget your floor – all sorts of crumbs and smears get on the floor and these are just as attractive to flies and the like as gunk on the bench. Clean floors by sweeping (or even vacuuming with a brush fitting on the vacuum cleaner) and by mopping.
2. Keep food in your pantry in airtight containers and keep the lid shut. Weevils and their little friends the silverfish will creep in and feed. You may have a galley-style kitchen, keep everything shipshape and have a nautical theme in your bathroom, but biscuits and flour filled with weevils is taking the theme a bit too far. Keep bay leaves loose, however, all through your pantry. Weevils and silverfish hate the smell of bay leaves and will keep away.
3. Don’t kill spiders. They don’t do any harm or spread any diseases; nor do they eat your food. All they do is build webs to kill flies and other little creepy-crawlies. If you don’t like the look of cobwebs in your home, do what my professional domestic cleaner friend does: scoop the spider up in a duster or on a piece of paper and put it outside (or on a pot plant – spider webs don’t look so bad there) before wrapping a broom in a soft cloth (an old towel or sheet or even a big old sock is ideal) and gently sweeping down the web.
4. Many people sing the praises of carnivorous plants such as Venus fly traps and pitcher plants. These don’t do much towards killing flies, but they do a little bit. Better plants for deterring insect pests, especially ants, include mint, pennyroyal, tansy and rue. Try putting them in pots near the door. Basil supposedly repels flies – it certainly repels whitefly in the garden and hothouse near tomatoes – and it is so delicious that it is certainly worth a try.
5. Regular thorough house cleaning helps to repel all sorts of nasties. Make sure you get into the dark, dusty corners, as these can be breeding grounds for pests. Incidentally, if you have had a problem with flies and it looks as if your walls and woodwork has freckles, you can clean fly spots off with a home-made cleaning spray of dilute vinegar or else just a bit of warm soapy water.
6. If you have to spray, use a pyrethrum-based product. This is derived from a type of daisy and is lethal to insects. It is also harmful to fish and frogs, so if you have an aquarium, cover it with something solid to stop the pyrethrum getting in the water.
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