(Natural News) Insect pests are some of the worst problems you’ll encounter as a pet or livestock owner. While commercial insecticides are readily available, they can be harmful to the environment and your animals due to their chemical content. Fortunately, there are some natural remedies that can provide the same results without the damaging effects of synthetic insect repellents. (h/t to SurvivalSullivan.com.)
Most insect pests find their way into homes and onto animals by hitching a ride on your clothes or your pet’s fur after you’ve enjoyed some time outdoors. If left unnoticed, these insects can multiply by the thousands and cause an annoying and potentially dangerous infestation.
Fleas are parasites that are dark brown or light golden brown in color, and can be as big as a sesame seed when filled with eggs. They’re attracted to warm-blooded animals and feed on their blood. Fleas can easily become a problem in your home if they find their way inside, as they also go after human blood. Flea bites are known to cause anemia and tapeworms in the host. The secret behind controlling fleas is getting rid of their larvae and eggs.
Natural flea deterrents include essential oils, baking soda, lemon spray, and rosemary, to name a few. Plants such as pennyroyal, chrysanthemums, lavender and spearmint are also great options for keeping away fleas. Grow these in your home for additional natural insect repellents.
Ticks are small arachnids that are commonly found feeding off the blood of house pets; mainly dogs. They’re most abundant from spring to late fall, but can be found all year long. It’s crucial to do a thorough tick check on your clothing and body, as well as your pet’s body after being outside, especially in heavy-wooded and tall-grassed areas. Ticks thrive best in warm temperatures; you can find most of them attached to the belly, head, or around the eyes of your pet.
There are some home remedies that can repel or even kill ticks, but before you go crazy on these items, make sure to first remove lodged ticks carefully from your pet’s skin using fine-tip tweezers or tick-removal tools. Don’t forcefully pull ticks off as they can vomit their innards as a defense mechanism, which may infect the bite wound with its diseases. The deadly human Lyme disease is a common infectious disease transmitted through tick bites.
Some effective home remedies for controlling ticks include diatomaceous earth (DE), an off-white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton; rubbing alcohol or mouthwash; and high heat such as a hot temperature setting on your washer and dryer.
Bed bugs are small oval-shaped insects whose favorite meal is human blood. These nasty bugs are more active during nighttime, and are mostly found in crowded, unsanitary living conditions or places with a high turnover of people such as hotel rooms and apartments. Bites from bed bugs are among the most irritating, characterized by inflammation, redness, and intense itching. You may soothe your skin by washing the bites with soap and water, carefully avoiding scratching any open sores to prevent infection. Certain essential oils also help with soothing and healing bed bug bites.
Using DE or baking soda can eliminate bed bugs from your home by sprinkling them in cracks and crevices, drawers, seams, and carpets. For hard-to-reach spots, dip a paintbrush into a mix of DE or baking soda and brush on these areas.
Essential oils as insect repellents
Here are some essential oils for controlling these creepy crawlies. Note that these potent substances should be diluted in water first before spraying them on your pet:
- Cedar oil – If you’re looking for an essential oil that is highly effective against insect pests but does not harm beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, then cedar oil is the perfect choice. This essential oil is extracted from conifer trees (trees that produce cones) and is known to be toxic to problematic insects such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
- Eucalyptus oil – Eucalyptus oil is a potent enough insect repellent on its own thanks to its menthol-like scent, but combine it with another essential oil such as cedarwood and you have a powerful flea deterrent.
- Thyme oil – While some essential oils can only keep fleas away on the areas where they are applied, thyme oil can actually kill fleas and is an effective fungicide and bactericide to boot.
Be careful not to apply essential oils too close to your dog’s nose as its sense of smell is very sensitive and the strong scent can be irritating. Do not apply essential oils to cats.