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Natural pest control

These days there is great concern about the amount of chemicals we have in our environment, but how do you deal with those annoying pests that invade the home?

Martyn Robinson, a scientist with the Natural Museum, encourages a more natural approach. He believes that we don't have to bomb our homes with chemicals to take care of these critters. A whole range of natural or non-chemical treatments can work just as effectively without harming the environment or your health.

Robinson says that if it's poisonous to the pests, it's probably going to be poisonous to us. He also believes that there will rarely ever be a 100 percent success rate because breeding rates are so rapid and insects will usually evolve or change their behaviour or appearance in some way.

  • Ants
    Ants pose a problem because you need to locate the nest and kill the queen to have any success in getting rid of them. Once you locate the nest, pour in a mixture of boiling water and a few drops of eucalyptus oil. Or, for a short-term solution, sprinkle the ant trail with lemon juice or talcum powder.

  • Cockroaches
    Use an empty margarine container with some remnants still on the sides and pour one centimetre of red wine in the bottom. Leave on a shelf or cupboard overnight. Cockroaches, like us, love fermented grapes. They get stuck in the bottom and the alcohol penetrates their tough exterior, then drowns them.

  • Mosquitoes
    One of the ways to help keep mosquitoes and other pest numbers down is to have a frog-friendly garden. Frogs need insects to eat and places to hide and breed. You can help to establish frogs in your garden by growing plants of varying heights and using mulch and compost.

    Specialist rose growers, Flora International, were spraying their roses with chemicals to control two-spotted mites. Nursery manager, Stuart Lowrie, says they were losing the battle. Now they distribute tiny predator mites called persimilus, barely visible to the naked eye, but ruthlessly effective.

    The following herbs act as a great natural insect repellent, however some herbs can be harmful to house pets so seek advice before planting them in your backyard.

    • Feverfew
    • Lads Love
    • Lavender
    • Wormwood
    • Pyrethrum
    • Tansy


  • A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective.
    Edward Teller
    US (Hungarian-born) physicist (1908 - 2003)