Pest Patrol

Cockroaches in the kitchen? Mice in the walls? Try these natural solutions for safe pest control.

| May/June 2017

  • As pests make their way into your home, try simple, non-toxic methods to keep them at bay.
    Photo by iStock/Svetl
  • Store food in durable, mouse-proof containers, such as jars, to keep rodents out.
    Photo by iStock/Kwanchai_Khammuean
  • Keeping dry goods on shelves, and spaces in walls and near windows tightly sealed, will deter unwanted critters.
    Photo by iStock/Kwanchai_Khammuean

As spring and summer begin, many of us start looking forward to longer days, warmer weather and garden-fresh food. But spring and summer are also the beginning of the seasons when we confront household pests — from now through fall, mice, ants and other critters come out to forage, build nests and reproduce, sometimes finding our homes the ideal locale for these activities. While some of these animals can cause damage to our homes, few of them cause damage equal to the negative environmental and health effects of chemical pesticides. When you find a trail of ants or evidence of a mouse in your home, try these natural and nontoxic solutions rather than turning to harmful chemical pesticides.


If you find a trail of ants marching across your kitchen countertop, it’s easy to panic. However, several natural options work well to block ants’ paths and discourage future entry: diatomaceous earth (read more at the end of the article), orange peels, vinegar and lemon water are all purported to mask the scent trails ants leave for one another and deter future invasions.

This is not true when it comes to fire ants. When it comes to these invaders, shelve the grits, baking soda, club soda, vinegar, molasses, plaster of Paris, aspartame, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and coffee grounds! In scientific testing, none of these home remedies worked worth a lick against the red imported fire ant — a nasty, non-native species that’s invaded the South, from Florida to Texas, and is spreading westward into California.

Although most ant species are neutral or even beneficial, this one can ruin a garden in no time by devouring germinating seeds, tunneling into potatoes and tomatoes, and girdling young fruit trees — and they’ll bite and sting you, too. Drought makes these ants even more voracious, as it prompts them to turn to garden crops for moisture.

If you have just one or two fire ant mounds in your garden or landscape and not a widespread problem, drench the mounds with a citrus oil and soap solution, a combination that’s repeatedly proved effective. In controlled studies conducted by Texas A&M University entomologists, the researchers had significantly less active fire ant mounds for as long as a month after they drenched the mounds with a mixture of 1-1/2 ounces of Medina Orange Oil, 3 ounces of Dawn liquid soap and 1 gallon of water. A compound in citrus oil, d-limonene, breaks down the ants’ exoskeletons and causes them to suffocate. The commercial product Orange Guard Fire Ant Control — approved for use in organic agriculture by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) — also contains orange oil. (For other approved products, check the OMRI website,

If your fire ant problem is more extensive than a mound or two, step up your response with the “Texas Two-Step” method recommended by Texas A&M University extension specialists for fire ant control in home vegetable gardens and landscapes.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me