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Facts and myths about homemade pest controls

People around the world have spent more time at home in recent months than usual. This has led to possible pest infestations as more time at home means more waste produced and, as a result, more food for pests to eat. If you have noticed an outbreak of cockroaches, ants, termites, rodents and mosquitoes, then you may be considering some homemade pest controls.

Be wary, though, as not all of these myths are true. While many homemade pest remedies may work, some are not as effective as a professional pest control service. Some infestations cannot be solved through household concoctions. However, there are certainly some effective ways to deal with pests using ingredients in your cupboard. Here are some facts and myths that you need to know before trying to eradicate pests.

1. Can talcum powder stop ants?

Talcum powder, also called baby powder in many parts of the world, is commonly thought to prevent ants in the home. Sprinkling this pleasant-smelling white powder on countertops and floors is thought to create a barrier that prevents ants from crossing. This myth is partly true. Talcum powder can hinder ants, but people do not necessarily have to use this substance.

Other powders can work too, such as cornstarch. Although, these methods are not as effective as a powdered ant repellant that is designed for the job. While ants may not like talc (the main ingredient in talcum powder), it is not a 100% effective method of prevention. If it is the only powdered substance in your home, give it a try. Otherwise, make a trip to the shops and buy ant traps or powdered repellants.

2. Can lavender and lemongrass be used as mosquito repellants?

Mosquitoes can be found in most regions of the world and they remain just as annoying, no matter where you are. One popular belief suggests that lavender or lemongrass can help to ward off mosquitoes. This is actually a fact. These two plants, as well as certain other citrus leaves, have chemical compounds and fragrances that help to keep mosquitoes away.

They work by masking the scent of carbon dioxide that we exhale. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide as a guide to the nearest animal. As they come close to the target, they pick up certain chemicals on the skin that allows them to hone in on a vulnerable feeding site. Lavender and lemongrass contain natural oils that mask the carbon dioxide and skin scents. This prevents mosquitoes from finding a suitable spot on which to land.

3. Can shiny objects ward off flies?

Like mosquitoes, flies are found around the globe. Some people believe that hanging shiny objects in and around the house can help to keep flies away. These objects can include bags of water, CDs or small mirrors on a string. The belief is that the light reflected off the shiny objects, as they spin in the wind, will confuse flies. This is partly true, but somewhat exaggerated.

Flies have around 4000 lenses in each eye that give them a mosaic-like view of the world. When light is reflected on a shiny surface, the flies may perceive it as the sun and get disorientated. While there is no way to prove this part of the belief, it appears to work in certain instances. However, flies will often find a way around the shiny object. The most effective method is to buy a fly trap, spray repellant or use a fly swatter.

4. Can mothballs be used for rodents?

This is another common belief. Mothballs are small white balls that look like mints but they are definitely not edible. They produce a peculiar smell that is unmistakable; some people actually like this scent. They are left in cupboards to repel insects that eat fabrics, such as moths and silverfish. Many people believe that mothballs can be effective against rodents too.

This is not true. The main chemical in mothballs is naphthalene. When inhaled, it can cause the red blood cells to lose their oxygen-carrying ability. This is effective for small insects, but harmless for anything larger than a big beetle. Mice, rats and humans are not affected by the small amount of naphthalene in a bag of mothballs. You would need a large, impractical volume of these balls to repel rodents.

These facts and myths will help you to make better decisions when it comes to pest eradication. Homemade methods can be effective and there is no harm in trying them out for yourself. However, you will always be better off buying a proper insect repellant or harmless rodent trap that does not hurt the rats and mice. 

Rodents can always be relocated away from your home without having to exterminate them. Prevention is always the best cure when it comes to household pests. Always ensure that your home is clean, tidy and free from waste. By removing potential food sources for pests, you can prevent them from breeding in your home in the first place.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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