Friday, April 15, 2011

Tip from the Green Housewife - Repel Pests So You Don't Have to Kill Them

        I think of myself as a relatively tender-hearted person. I don't like to see people or animals suffering, and will do what I can to defend the underdog.  If a ladybug or honeybee flies into our house, as they often do since we live in the country, I open our window which is missing the screen until they fly out. Pete laughs, and is sometimes annoyed, at my attempts to save animals lives, especially the ones that involve him. When we were camping in the Ozarks several years ago, I made him get multiple turtles off this highway we were hiking past - it was a very backwoods highway with few cars so Pete wasn't at any danger of getting killed, but the turtles, being turtles, were :).
            But there are some creatures that disgust me. I would shock my college philosophy professor Fred Blackburn if he knew how I "shut up my bowels of compassion" against certain of God's creation.  One of those creatures are rats. Living in the country, and with some next door neighbors who are not willing or able to take care of their yard, we have had some major trouble with rats this year. Before we knew we even had rats, they had ruined our car battery and pooped all over stuff in our garage. Our neighbors (not the ones with the yard) have even seen two rats as big as cats out at night! Disgusting and frightening at the same time.

Thankfully, the rats are not prolific enough that I could get a close-up.
This rat is a google image ;)
          It seemed that there was nothing else to do but put out some traps and poison. While I was gone visiting my sister Erica for a week, Pete got rid of the box spring which I discovered them to be sleeping in right before I left. (What wonderful timing! I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my niece and nephew, but in the back of my mind was always, "I have to go home to clean up rat poop!") He also caught a rather large rat in one of the traps and disposed of it. I was so glad I did not have to see that rat - I would have felt so guilty and sad, even though we had to get rid of them somehow! He also found one hole they were getting in through, and blocked it up with cement blocks, but we are unsure if there is another way they can get in (we share a garage with the neighbors who rent the house in front of us.)
         When I got back from seeing my sis, I knew it was time for war with the rats, but in my heart of hearts I wanted to come up with a truce to prevent any further casualties. The garage had to be cleaned of any remaining rat droppings, and I had heard that the smell of ammonia repells rodents because it smells like their predators pee. So I put on hiking boots to prevent being bitten, long pants, gloves, and filled a bucket with ammonia water. I swept up all the remaining evidence of the rats (and thankfully didn't see any!), moved stuff out of the way, threw stuff out that they had damaged, and then mopped the garage floor with ammonia water. I felt like taking a two hour shower after this two hour ordeal, but I think it worked because I have not seen anymore droppings, and no more rats have been caught in traps. Fred, you would be proud of my pacifistic approach :).

What are your green tips to repel pests? 

6 comments:

  1. I'm very tender hearted too. I had a spider that lived behind a picture in my kitchen for the longest time. We call her Matilda. LOL Now I'll admit rats are a different story. I'd never want to be the one to kill them off but I'd be happy if they disappeared! When my husband went on a mission trip to Haiti he learned a neat trick to repel flies. Fill sandwich size zip lock bags with water and hang them over or around door and window openings. The water messes with their eyes and they stay away. Works pretty good.

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  2. Patti Bee - what a good idea of how to repel flies! Thanks for the tip.

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  3. I have been told by some old timers to put water on a penny and it will repel flies. At the moment though ants are my problem. I fixed a trap of borax and sugar and so far so good!

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  4. I use the borax and sugar trick for cockroaches - haven't seen a single one in the house for over a year since I put it out a year ago.

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  5. We have more of a mouse problem than a rat problem. I wouldn't mind them (as they are less destructive than rats) except that they inevitably attract snakes. We try not to attract the mice in the first place, so all chicken/steer grain is kept in plastic barrels and the chicken food hangs from the roof of their pen, so its difficult for mice to find anything to eat at our place. When we notice mouse droppings, we do trap them in live catch traps and drown them. I prefer that to bait as when you use bait you don't know where the mice will die or what other animals (i.e. my pets) will eat the bait.

    I will try the ammonia for the mouse problem, I would prefer that to traps, however, did it make your garage smell bad?

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  6. Farmer Liz - it did smell a little bad, but better than the smell of rat droppings!

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