5 Ways To Debug Your Home Without Insecticide
by Vince Wong
Home is a perfect place, the safe sanctuary where I go to rest, rejuvenate, lick my wounds and dream of a better tomorrow. Which is why when visitors drop by unannounced, I get all triggered and lit in their faces, like a gangsta!
Pity the census-taker who comes round at 8.30pm on a workday, asking questions like “How are you today sir?”, “Are there any residents over 40 year olds living at this address?” and “Hello, are you gonna eat that?” when all I want is to wind down and get relaxed enough so that bedtime doesn’t turn into a 4-hour staring contest with my dog.
That said, I have a very special place in hell reserved for unwanted company which have wings or more than four legs. I am referring, of course, to mosquitoes, cockroaches and ants.
What’s more, because I have sensitive skin and sinuses, which are extremely reactive to chemicals and odours like those produced by insecticides, encounters with these bugs can be truly disruptive events. As a result, I’ve invested an unreasonable portion of my life to making my home bug-free – without insecticide.
If you are like me, or have children, pets or old folks you want to shield from harsh chemicals and odours, here’s a quick rundown of the strategies and materials I use.
- Ring fence your home with DE
For ground forces like ants, sprinkling baby powder across points of entry can most times disrupt the scent markers that they use to retrace paths, making it hard for them to find their way back – either into your home or theirs.
Another child-, pet- and sensitive-person- safe strategy is spiking their paths and food sources with diatomaceous earth (DE). DE contains tiny, fossilised aquatic organisms (diatoms) that come in the form of a very fine, smooth, non-toxic, odourless white powder.
Despite its appearance, diatomaceous earth is razor-sharp at a microscopic level, and also wicks vital moisturing oils from brittle insect exoskeletons, causing them to dry out and die. Bedbugs, fleas, mites, aphids, and even slugs, snails and worms can all be eliminated without the risk of staining carpets, walls or tiles, simply by strewing ground entry pathways with a pinch of this magic powder.
And don’t worry, diatomaceous earth is too fine to do any harm to large organisms like pets, toddlers or sensitive teenagers.
500 grams is enough to protect about 200 square meters, and you can easily buy DE from local online merchants. To protect your property, dust your window/door sills and wall cracks/ventilation openings in your home’s perimeter with a thin layer of DE, taking care to keep these areas dry after.
- Clean up with soap solutions
Other people may face bigger problems like the occasional cockroach, for which diatomaceous earth takes too long.
A substitute for insecticide that works well for solo encounters with cockroaches is a soap water spray. Upon getting sprayed, a thin wet soapy film clings onto the roach and over its breathing pores, drowning the hapless thing shortly.
Note: if you are encountering cockroaches and other bugs frequently, perhaps pestilence isn’t your biggest problem. Maybe clean house more regularly? Cleanliness is next to cockroach-less.
- Bait them with poison
One-on-one methods however won’t be very effective however, if your new home invaders have moved in and set up young families within your walls. In that case, the only methods known to man that can remove them are baits and traps.
Cockroach or ant bait contain slow-acting poisons disguised as insect food, and can be bought from any supermarket.
They are very effective, although it may take a week or two to get rid of all these house guests. But, as the bait eventually is ferried back to nests, even the most persistent overstayers can be evicted in time, if by ‘booted out’ I mean ‘massacred’.
- Screen the intruders
Next, many a night of blissful slumber has been brought to a bellowing wakefulness by lone wolf mosquitoes operating under the cover of darkness. It’s gotten so bad lately that I’ve resorted to draping a mosquito net over my bed.
To prevent flying intruders more comprehensively though, mosquito screens are available locally for installation over all openings where pesky mossies can wander in.
The screens are fastened onto window frames via velcro or magnetic strips for ease of assembly, washing, and laziness.
- Blow them away
I’ve also found that only powerful ceiling fans, not their weaker floor, table or wall-mounted cousins, can generate air drafts strong enough to blow mossies away from kamikaze flights.
Best of all, a ceiling fan costs not much more than the usual bevy of table fans most people use to keep cool, covers much more room area, is more effective at cooling, lasts many more years and saves more money over time than a/c. Just be sure to avoid ceiling fans with wooden blades as those are neither durable nor efficient.
All of the above is moot of course if you are not adverse to using insecticides like I am. In which case, you may try these methods:
- Repel them with sound, radiation or scent
There are anti-bug gadgets which emit high frequency sounds or radiation, and “natural” spray or aromatherapy solutions which use essential oils like citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus, or cinnamon, which are supposed to repel mosquitoes and other bugs.
However, they do introduce electromagnetic radiation, sound, or chemicals into the home, and I’ve never found them to be any more effective than the other methods above.
- Bug sprays
If your bug problem is just a normal day-to-day type occurrence, normal spray-type insecticides would probably work for you. There’s no need to get uber-choosy over the type of active ingredient either, as I have found that any available in a supermarket works just as well as the rest.
- Bug bombs
If your bug problem requires you to go to Defcon Level 4, I say take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
I’m referring of course to bug bombs, a type of insecticide that does exactly what its name says. This fogging-type insecticide fills entire rooms with fine mists of aerosol-propelled death.
They are not easily available in Singapore though, and you have to be really careful with how you deploy them: adequate ventilation after deployment is really important.
- Call the professionals
Lastly, if you are absolutely at your wit’s end… “And there’s something strange in your neighbourhood…” Who ya gonna call?
Professional pest busters, of course.
I recommend them here, because think about it… If you have a job that can only be described as ‘best left to the professionals’, then surely clearing hundreds of insect carcasses from your home afterwards is well worth paying for.
Just let me know before you engage them, so that I can make plans to be on holiday some place else until they are done. Thanks for the heads up!
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