How to deter kitchen pests naturally

October 18, 2015

A clean, pest-free home is essential to your family's well-being. But you don't need to turn to harmful chemicals to keep pests out of your house. A little natural know-how can help. Natural alternatives are usually just as effective and a better value, too.

How to deter kitchen pests naturally

Keep a clean kitchen

Common sense is the first line of attack in keeping pests at bay. They can't have a party if there's nothing to eat.

  • Keep kitchen tables and counters spotless and train your family to clean up after themselves.
  • Transfer everything in the pantry into pest-proof storage containers. Weevils often come home with you from the store, and leaving unopened packets around not only provides food for the weevils already in your kitchen, but possibly introduces more to your cupboards.
  • Keep an eye on use-by dates and use your groceries in date order. Avoid buying too much and doubling up on items you rarely use.
  • Wipe up shelf spills and regularly clean cupboards, washing them out with soap. Add a few drops of pest-repelling clove oil to your dish water.
  • Wipe the insides of cupboards with an insect-repelling essential oil such as tea-tree, peppermint or citronella.
  • Even if you find just one weevil egg or grub in a product, throw the whole thing out. (Flours and grains can be composted.)
  • To deter weevils, scatter bay leaves or cloves on cupboard shelves and tape them inside container lids.

Basic know-how

  • Block gaps in walls, around pipes and between baseboards and floors to prevent pests getting in and then breeding in your home.
  • Keep your kitchen garbage can firmly covered. Empty it frequently.
  • Use sticky traps, baits and fly swatters. They harm only the insects that get caught in them and not humans, pets or native animals.
  • Don't leave dirty dishes lying around. Make sure you've washed all the dishes before you go to bed each night.
  • Don't let loose papers accumulate; keep them in a sealed box.
  • Don't turn out natural predators such as spiders and daddy-long-legs. They trap and eat flies and other insects.

Insecticides: What to avoid

Here are some of the chemicals commonly found in insecticides that you should avoid.

Organophosphates: malathion, parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon

These chemicals are readily absorbed through your skin. Poisoning symptoms include headaches, dizziness and diarrhea. These chemicals will persist in the environment no more than a few months.

Carbamates: aldicarb, carbaryl, bendiocarb, propoxur

These chemicals are moderately to highly toxic if swallowed. Some of them can also be absorbed through the skin. Unlike organophosphates, carbamates break down quickly in the environment.

Use in moderation

If you need chemical help, here are some options that are the least toxic and will linger in the environment for the shortest amount of time.

  • Borax, a strong alkali, is poisonous to plants and insects (and to humans too, if taken in large quantities).
  • Pyrethrum is a spray or dust made from pyrethrum daisies. It is poisonous to insects, but also toxic to fish and frogs and mildly toxic to humans.
  • Pyrethroids are a synthetic form of pyrethrum. They are highly toxic to insects and aquatic life, and mildly toxic to mammals. Pyrethroids take longer to break down than natural pyrethrum and should be used only when necessary.

Remember this information about chemical deterrents and how to deter kitchen pests naturally, to help you keep your home pest-free without dangerous chemicals.

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