Alibi V.24 No.17 • April 23-29, 2015 

The Bugman

Pest Control Without Poison

Keeping bugs at bay without hurting the Earth or yourself

It's going to be a very warm and dry summer, and you can expect a lot of bugs. They'll be coming down from the mountains and in from the desert in search of water. You can prevent them from visiting the inside of your home without using toxic pesticides. Thankfully, there are simple and safe measures you can take to pest-proof your home.

Pest-proofing will help keep cockroaches, ants, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, rodents and other pests outside your home. Pest-proofing means you don't have to pay a pest control company to spray pesticides around your home or inside it. In addition to pest-proofing your house, always remember to close your sink, tub and floor drains at night. This will prevent cockroaches from coming up through the drains from the sewer system or septic tank. If you don't have a drain cover, don’t worry. Simply fill a Ziploc bag with water and place it over the drain.

The first step to pest-proofing is installing door sweeps on all outside doors that need them. If you can slide a piece of paper under a door, it needs a door sweep. It's often not possible to get garage doors to close that tightly, so put some food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) near the doors and in corners of the garage floor. Any insects or other arthropods that sneak in will walk through the DE, which will kill them. DE isn't a pesticide; it kills insects by scratching their outer bodies, making them lose moisture and ultimately die from dehydration, and is safe to use around pets and kids.

Another way of pest-proofing is making sure you don’t leave any debris laying around the house. These sorts of piles are good hiding places for cockroaches, scorpions and centipedes. If you have firewood, stack it away from the house because it will attract black widows. And if you don't want bugs in your firewood, stack it where there's a lot of sunlight, and drape some black plastic over it. The sun's heat on the black plastic will create a sauna effect, discouraging anything from hiding in the firewood.

These sorts of piles are good hiding places for cockroaches, scorpions and centipedes. If you have firewood, stack it away from the house because it will attract black widows.

If tree branches touch your house or roof, it allows acrobat and carpenter ants access to your home. Trim branches back, and keep them from touching your home, especially during the warm months. This is even more important in the North and South Valleys, as acrobat and carpenter ants are more common in those parts of Albuquerque. Always remember to sweep down spiderwebs that are outside your house.

Poorly sealed pipes are yet another entryway for unwelcome pests. When you have pipes going into a crawl space, seal them from underneath the house if possible. There's usually a space between the floor and the bottom of the cabinet; if you seal it from the top, cockroaches can still get in under the bottom of the cabinet. If you can't seal them from under the house, jam some steel wool in any openings under the sink to keep bugs out. If you have a crawl space, ensure that all vents on the outside of your house are properly sealed to prevent rodents from taking up residence underneath your home. Attic vents should also be completely screened. If there are any openings, rodents, bats, wasps and other pests can come inside and infest the attic.

Keeping anything that pests can hide in or under a distance away from your house will also keep most insects and other arthropods out of your home. Don't leave outside lights on longer than necessary. Lights attract insects, and insects attract centipedes, who love to feed off of them.

If paper wasps make nests under the eaves—especially near a door—knock the nest down with a broom when the wasps are gone. Then spray the area with some Avon Skin So Soft. That stuff will repel the wasps from rebuilding there. After a few days, hang a small, brown paper bag stuffed with crumpled paper in the area where the wasps were building their nests. They'll see the bag as another wasp nest and go somewhere else to build.

If there are a lot of roaches where you live, put some pie pans filled with beer out at night. The roaches will dive in, get drunk and drown. Don’t be surprised if you find a ton of dead roaches the next morning. For some reason, they do not like light beer, and I am not making this up. And of course, make sure you put the pie pans where pets and neighbors can't get to them.

Once you’ve pest-proofed your house, be sure to check every few months to make sure all the proofing work you did is still in place and effective. Remember: Pesticides are weapons of mass destruction, and they're not necessary.