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Natural, Organic or Home Remedies for Common House Pests

Are there environmentally friendly ways to eliminate insects?

When home buyers ask about pests in Arizona I usually pass on a local adage that was conveyed to me when I moved here: “There are two kinds of houses in Arizona, ones that have termites and ones that will have termites”. Having said that, in the many years I’ve been selling homes here in the Valley, I’ve actually encountered more houses without termites than those with, though you should be aware that it is not at all uncommon to run into them in our arid climate.

The simple mention of the word ‘termite’ seems to instill terror in both home buyers and home sellers. Really it shouldn’t. Termites caught in time are totally treatable. By the time they’ve reached your home they’re also fairly obvious so if you don’t catch them in time you’re not paying attention. Compared to other pests, treatment for termites is somewhat costly but it is possible for treatment to be a one-time occurrence, and reputable pest companies will offer a generous warranty.

As for a home remedy for eliminating termites, I’ve encountered a theory that you can use vinegar and lemon juice. My problem with this method is that it would be easy to find and treat the visible infestation, but termites are primarily subterranean so I’m not sure how you would locate and eradicate the underground critters with any certainty.

The other infestation that seems to be an issue here in the dessert is scorpions. I’ve been told by home inspectors and pest treatment technicians that scorpions can harass an entire area or be totally random, often infesting one home and not the next. They do tend to be more common near construction, farmland and foothills or mountainous regions.

Personally, I subscribe to the ‘if it moves kill it’ principle. I simply do not want crawly things in my house and I prefer they not frequent my yard either. I would treat with explosives if it were possible.

But there is a health and safety school of thought that trusts the effectiveness of home remedies for everyday pest control. My sister is one, and admittedly it appears to be working well for her. So what follows are a few homegrown pest solutions that others have found useful.

Homemade Solutions for Pest Problems

Dead cockroaches on a counter top near the sink. - Natural, organic pest treatments, home remedy for pests, ants, roaches, mosquitos, flies, bugs - Bill Salvatore, Arizona Elite Properties 602-999-0952 - Arizona Real Estate(Family Features)–The battle between humans and pests has raged on for thousands of years, including cave dwellers who may have used camphor leaves as mosquito repellent 77,000 years ago, according to researchers at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.

The struggle isn’t too different today, as homeowners still try home remedies with varying levels of success. Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Orkin entomologist, shares these tips for effective home treatments.

Fire Ants

Fire ants have painful stingers, so it’s no wonder people try to discourage them with cornmeal, grits, boric acid, garlic cloves or cayenne pepper.

Unfortunately, Harrison said these remedies rarely work because they seldom eliminate the colony. A pest control professional targets the whole colony, specifically the queens. Things you can do at home include:

– Take away attractive food and water sources. Clean up outdoor spills, open food containers, and pet food and water bowls.
– Make fire ants uncomfortable because they seldom return to the same spot – mowing over a colony can help.


Science backs up public perception of flies being dirty: they carry twice as many pathogens as a cockroach, breed rapidly and contaminate the surfaces and food they land on. Home remedies like suspending a clear bag of water outside don’t usually deter them.

To cut down on flies, Harrison recommends:

– Regularly wiping countertops and cleaning food and drink spills.
– Emptying trash cans frequently.
– Installing screens on doors and windows.
– Turning on fans.


Mosquitoes are the uninvited guests of summer barbecues. Harrison said the insects are attracted to perspiration, some perfumes and some colognes, but are repelled by other scents, such as citronella. For citronella to be effective, Harrison said the amount of scent you would need would be almost overwhelming.

To effectively deter these biting bugs from your yard:

– Remove standing water from gutters, buckets and other areas where mosquitoes can breed.
– Change water in bird baths, fountains and potted plants frequently.
– Thin out vegetation where adult mosquitoes may live and feed.


Most people have developed a well-earned fear of wasps, which can sting repeatedly and are poisonous to some. Harrison said that while wasps may not like the scent of hanging rosemary bunches, unless you kill the queen, she’ll continue to reproduce and you won’t achieve much of an impact.

A better way to cut down on wasp encounters is to get rid of the proteins and sweets they like to feed on, so Harrison advises to:

– Keep your yard clean of ripe or rotting fruit.
– Clean up after barbecues to remove leftover meat.
–  Dispose of sugary drinks before they can attract wasps.
– Install a misting system.


The sight of a roach scurrying across the kitchen floor is enough to send most people reaching for a shoe or jumping on a chair. Some people believe putting out cucumber slices will repel roaches, while others try catnip or even ammonia. Harrison said these remedies are a long shot.

Ammonia applied directly to a cockroach could kill it, but spraying baseboards with the household cleaner won’t do much because it’s a volatile compound that dissipates.

Instead, try:

– Keeping your home clean and free of moisture and food spills.
– Sealing all cracks and crevices inside the home, as adult cockroaches can squeeze through a space as thin as a dime.
– Lowering the thermostat to discourage German cockroaches, which like hot and humid conditions.

Source: Orkin.  Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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Bill Salvatore / Arizona Elite Properties
Residential Sales, Marketing, and Property Management

Founder: AZVHV    ⋅    MEMBER: Heroes Home Advantage
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