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How to naturally rid your home of bugs

Lori Wilson is a SheKnows.com Home & Living columnist, as well as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, who after a lifetime of enduring harsh Michigan winters, relishes the warmth year round.

Clean 'em out

Bugs are an irritating side effect to the glorious days of summer. Your first instinct might be to use a commercial pesticide to kill them. However, those remedies can harm your children, your pets and the environment. Instead of reaching for a toxic product to rid your home of nasty insects, try an organic solution instead.

Carpenter ant

Photo credit: Paul Beard / Photodisc / Getty images

Don't let them in

One way to make your home bug free is to prevent them from entering in the first place. Bugs typically enter your home through cracks around pipes, windows, doors and drains. Go through your house with caulk and seal up all the openings you find. Also close your drains when you aren't using them and make sure you don't leave dirty dishes in the sink or food lying around.

Landscaping

Your landscaping is often an attractor and archway into your home for bugs. Another way to make sure pests aren't getting in is to prune the shrubs back in your garden. Create at least a foot of space between your home and your greenery so insects can't easily jump from a bush to your house.

Rake up weeds and get rid of any dead debris that is lying near your home. Dead bugs tend to flock to leaf and lawn excess. They will find their way into your house, if, for instance, a pile of old grass clippings is close to your foundation.

Wood chip mulch is a popular form of landscaping, but it also attracts carpenter ants and termites. If you plan to cover the dirt around your flowers or trees with something, rubber mulch is a preferred option.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is an odorless, nontoxic white powder is made up of ground-up shells of microscopic sea creatures called diatoms. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth along the edge of your house, or wherever you notice insects crawling around, will work as sandpaper against the insects' shell, which leads to dehydration and usually death within hours. You can find this product at most garden centers.

Garlic

The experts from Planttalk at Colorado State Extension say that garlic makes an effective spray for many plant-dwelling insects. Puree 15 garlic cloves along with a pint of water in a blender, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth into a clean spray bottle, and apply the strained mixture to the tops and bottoms of all affected leaves. Repeat every few days until the problem is gone.

Soap and water

Perhaps the easiest way to organically rid your home of bugs is to set out a bowl of sugar water and add a dollop of dish soap. Bugs will flock to your concoction, get caught in it and drown. This is especially effective with wasps.

Boric acid

Boric acid, an odorless, low toxicity mineral is most effective on cockroaches, silverfish, earwigs, termites, ants, and most other ground-dwelling insects. Boric acid, from which the laundry booster Borax is made, is a white powder mined from volcanic areas -- in the US, commonly the Mojave Desert in California. It works against bugs by acting as a "stomach poison," and also dries their their bodies in a manner similar to how diatomaceous earth works.

To prevent bugs from taking over your home, sprinkle a very fine around pipe and drain entrances in floors and walls, under cabinets, around baseboards, under appliances and on top of cabinets. While it is much less harmful than most commercial chemicals, you should still use it with care and place it where humans and pets aren't likely to come in contact with it.

Responsible pest control

You don't have to use harsh chemicals in order to rid your home of bugs. If you find an infestation of ants, roaches or other creepy crawlers, think of your family and environment first: Do your research, and find a natural way to evict them from your home.

More pest control info & resources

Are sunscreen and insect repellent safe to use during pregnancy?
Stop baby itching this summer with bug bite prevention
Tips to avoid chiggers
Lyme disease: Are you prepared?

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