Pest-Free, Naturally: Natural Pest Control

Try these 10 tried-and-true bug-busting remedies.

| May/June 2010

  • Clove, cedar, vinegar and hot, soapy water can repel ants, flies and moths.
    Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison

In many climates, warm weather brings bugs. While a few ants, fleas or silverfish can be a nuisance, an invasion may tempt you to reach for the bug spray. Don’t do it! This heavy-handed approach can unleash toxic compounds that put your family’s health at risk.

While highly toxic organophosphates are no longer allowed in home pesticides, popular pyrethrum-based pesticides aren’t without risk. In animal studies,  pyrethroid exposure affects the brain and nervous system; increases thyroid and liver cancers; damages male reproductive organs; and reduces testosterone levels and fertility. The Cancer Assessment Review Committee classified pyrethrins as “likely human carcinogens” if ingested. 

Pyrethrins have sparked concern among environmentalists and lawmakers alike. Recently, Virginia Congressman Jim Moran and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry introduced legislation to explore the link between hormone-disrupting chemicals such as pyrethroids and the dramatic increase in autism, hyperactivity, diabetes, obesity, and breast and prostate cancer.

Pyrethrum-based pesticides aren’t the only cause for concern. Propoxur, commonly found in ant and roach killers, depresses the central nervous system and respiratory tract, and overexposure can cause muscle weakness, dizziness, headaches and nausea. This noxious chemical also damages DNA and negatively affects fetal growth. The chemical N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide—often found in ant and roach sprays, household foggers, and flea and tick repellents—is an excitotoxin that can depress the central nervous system, causing decreased heart rate, loss of consciousness and possibly death.

Infants and children, whose internal organs are still developing, are especially sensitive to the health risks these pesticides pose. Researchers have found that exposure to home pesticides and insecticides more than doubles a child’s chances of developing neuroblastoma, a rare type of malignant brain tumor, and increases the risk of leukemia. An American Cancer Society study suggests children exposed to household insecticides are three to seven times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Try these chemical-free alternatives to toxic pesticides.

6/3/2014 12:17:38 AM

General household pests like ants, etc can be proactively dealt with. The best solution is to always leave your house spotless. By the way, thanks for this natural ant control solution – will try it. I am throwing away my slices of cucumber. I've read somewhere on the Internet ants hate the smell of cucumber and it drives ants away. Apparently, I still have black ants coming from nowhere despite using it.

5/10/2014 12:16:41 AM

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3/25/2014 12:13:26 AM

Yeah! Different weather brings bugs like ants, Fleas, cockroaches and many more. The information, you have shared is enough to control the pests which destroy the home. Thanks for sharing.

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