GOING GREEN – Bug off—the green way


Margaret Malsam

This seems to be a buggy year.  I have noticed more insects wanting to find homes in our house and yard. I want to keep bugs away, but I don’t want to harm the environment with toxic, harmful pesticides. Luckily modern green technology coupled with old-time remedies can help solve this problem.

Recently I discovered professional strength glue non-toxic traps at Wal-Mart. These modern glue traps represent the latest in anti-insect technology. The traps capture insects crawling around anywhere in the house. I have always had problems with tiny ants crawling up from the concrete foundation onto my kitchen floor in the summer. These traps stop the train of ants invading much better than the old square ant traps. They also are great way to trap spiders before they build their webs. If you have household pets, however, you should not use these.

An easy way to get insects to bug off is to add three to five drops of an essential oil like tea tree, peppermint, or lemon to a quart of water when you clean your floors. These natural oils are harmless to people and pets, but they create an undesirable scent for insects and spiders. Also keep a spray bottle filled with soapy water to squirt at pesky insects. Below are some other simple green home remedies.


Stop ants where they enter your house. Set out harmless household ingredients near areas when ants seem most active. Ants will not cross over cayenne pepper, citrus oil (soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon, cucumber peels or slices, or coffee grounds.

Dry, crushed mint leaves, bags of mint tea, bay leaves or cloves also work as ant deterrents.  Ants on the deck? Slip a few cut garlic cloves between the cracks.


Natural spider repellants are easy to make that will help your home stay spider free. Then you won’t have to worry about killing them. One of the easiest and most effective ways to eradicate spiders is to make a spider spray to use on the outside of windows and doors and also along fences and mailboxes.  Mix and pour the following ingredients in a spray bottle: one cup vinegar, one cup black pepper, one teaspoon tea tree, peppermint, or lemon oil and one teaspoon liquid soap. Mix well to bug off the spiders.


If roaches are a problem in your home or apartment, vacuum well and wash the area with a strong liquid detergent. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags in a sealed container.

Catnip is a natural repellent to cockroaches, and it is non-toxic to humans and pets. Small sachets of catnip can be left in areas of cockroach activity. Catnip can also be simmered in a small amount of water to make a “catnip tea” which can be sprayed around baseboards and behind counters. Warning: This natural repellent should only be used in homes without cats.


Flies are not as pesky in Colorado as in some other states, but they do come uninvited to backyard picnics. I remember when pest strips were introduced many years ago and later taken off the market because of their toxicity. We took a tour of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a former World War II chemical munitions facility, which now has been reclaimed from toxic to a “green” national wildlife refuge. Our guide explained as weaponry production declined at war’s end, a portion of the arsenal’s idle facilities was leased to Shell Chemical Company, and they manufactured Shell’s toxic no pest strip there.

Now you can make your own non-toxic flypaper with this simple recipe: Mix 1/4 cup syrup, one tablespoon granulated sugar and one tablespoon brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut strips of heavy brown paper, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and thread a string for it for a hanger. Soak the strips in this mixture, and hang to dry overnight.

To discourage flies, place small cheesecloth packets of crushed mint around your home or patio. Also wrap bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus in cheesecloth and hang by open windows or doors and on the patio.

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