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Eco-Friendly Pest Control: 7 Household Pests and How to Manage Them Humanely in 2024 (Guide)

The leaves are starting to fall, and the winds are getting colder. It’s nearing winter, and you want to wrap yourself up and stay home where it’s safe and warm.

That same need to seek shelter and safety applies to all creatures. That’s why you’ll find your home occupied by unwanted visitors, like bugs, rodents, and wild animals.

Their presence can be irritating, especially considering their potential for destruction.

Here are some common winter pests and how to use eco-friendly pest control methods to humanely keep them out of your home:

Eco-Friendly Pest Control: 7 Household Pests & How to Manage Them

1. Ants

Ants might be tiny, but they can cause severe damage in droves. To deal with ants humanely, you must first look for their entry point. Observe their trail and find out how they’re getting into your home. Seal up these places while they’re inactive at night. Then, erase any traces of their chemical trail by spraying a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. 

You can also drive them away with substances they don’t like. Research shows that peppermint and spearmint oil effectively repel ants. Wipe these oils near places they congregate or where you don’t want them to go. 

Eco-friendly Pest Control - Ants

The most effective way to eliminate ants is to prevent them from accessing food. They can and will eat anything, even nonfood items like wiring and drywall.

However, they are more likely to nest in your home if they have access to food. Sealing items well and cleaning up rigorously are great ways to avoid an ant problem, and a truly eco-friendly pest control method.

2. Cockroaches

Every homeowner dreads cockroaches entering their home, but they almost always manage to. Roaches are resilient and opportunistic. They constantly search for food, water, and shelter. If they know they can find it in your home, they’ll find a way to enter through the smallest of cracks. Next thing you know, they’re everywhere. 

Roaches carry many pathogens that can harm human health, so people kill them immediately. However, once you see one cockroach, there’s already a community hiding in dark and damp places in your home. Killing them one by one isn’t productive or humane. 

Eco-friendly Pest Control - Cockroach

A more effective approach would be to drive them away from your home by depriving them of their needs. Keep all food and water sealed away. If you have pets, empty their bowls at night. Clear out garbage bags regularly. Roaches can also eat cardboard and other materials, so clean up piles of junk, especially in less frequented areas like your attic and basement.

You can also take extra measures to drive away cockroaches. For instance, strong-smelling essential oils like peppermint, tea tree, and eucalyptus can repel these pests. Wiping these oils near critical areas can help solve your problem. You can also use cinnamon or bay leaves. 

3. Spiders

Arachnophobia is one of the most common fears, with up to 15% of the world experiencing it. A common reaction to seeing a spider at home is fear and aggression. However, most house spiders are completely harmless. They are a natural form of eco-friendly pest control, helping eliminate smaller insects. 

Once winter rolls in and you see more spiders, consider just keeping them inside. They will most likely not hurt or bite you. However, if you or someone in your home is afraid, you can drive them away humanely through catch and release. 

Spider and bug catchers are available, but you can always do the tried-and-tested jar and paper method. Catch the spider by placing the open end of a jar over it. Then, slide a piece of paper underneath, take it outside, and safely release it.

4. Moths

Moths can be persistent. If left unchecked, they’ll eat your clothes and linen until you have none left. It’s not the adult moths that eat your clothing — it’s the larvae. However, you must deal with the adults, or they will keep laying eggs. 

Mothballs are a popular pest control method, but they aren’t humane. They are poisonous even to humans and pets, so it’s not a safe substance to keep at home. 

Consider using more natural, eco-friendly pest control methods to drive away moths. Adults do not like the smell of cedar. Fill your house with cedar, or use a scent diffuser. You can also combine cedar oil and water and spray it in areas where moths lay eggs, like your closet. 

Eco-friendly Pest Control - Moth-eaten Jumper and Lavender bunches

Another method is to use aromatic herbs in essential oil or dried form. Place lavender, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves in a small cloth bag and leave in areas where moths frequent. Once you drive away the adults, remember to wash your clothes well to get rid of eggs and larvae.

5. Flies

Flies can infiltrate your home even in winter. Some common species can survive the cold, including fruit, cluster, and regular house flies. 

Cluster and house flies lay their eggs in secluded areas in your house, like the attic or basement. They are particularly attracted to the odors and air currents in your garage. Once they lay eggs in the fall, their eggs hatch just in time for the cold season. These newly hatched insects can survive the harsh winter by being born in a warm home with food freely available.

Eco-friendly Pest Control - Flies

Get rid of house flies naturally by planting herbs that they don’t like. Basil, lavender, and bay leaves can drive them away. You can also make a solution from cayenne pepper and water and spray it around your property.

Most importantly, you must keep your home clean. Dispose of any rotting materials and food. Clean up your pet’s waste regularly, and be sure to seal garbage.

6. Mice and Rats

Rats and mice are some of the most unwanted pests. They create damage and can carry diseases. Most solutions include cruelty, like using sticky traps to give them a long, excruciating death.

Rodents are highly intelligent creatures. They can feel pain and experience suffering. You can drive rodents away or prevent them from entering your property through more humane and eco-friendly pest control methods.

Eco-friendly Pest Control - Rat in a humane cage trap

First, seal off all food in airtight containers. Doing so can help you extend the life span of your food, too. Clean up and seal your garbage correctly so they don’t get attracted to it. Wash all plates immediately, including your pet’s bowls. 

Search your home for any possible entry points and close them with sealant. Use natural deterrents like peppermint, citronella, ammonia, or black pepper. You can also utilize a live trap to catch and release rodents. Do so about 100 yards from your house, somewhere wooded and near a water source.

2. Birds

Some birds don’t migrate for the winter, so they try their hardest to seek warmth and shelter from the cold. Birds can carry disease and do significant damage to your property. For instance, bird waste contains uric acid, which can destroy paint. 

Eco-friendly Pest Control - Car covered in bird waste

Humanely drive them out by cutting off their food and water supply. Ensure you don’t have standing water pooling anywhere in your home, and secure any trash outdoors.

If a bird manages to enter your home, calmly open one exit point and turn on a light nearby. Then, turn off all other lights in the house so the exit looks like a lighted beacon. 

If the bird isn’t responding, take a large bed sheet and hold it up with both hands. Slowly guide the bird by walking toward the exit. The sheet will act as a wall that gently nudges it in the right direction. Do not throw the sheet over it. Once the bird is outside, quickly close the exit.

Keep Your Home Pest Free During Winter

As winter approaches, you can expect various insects and animals to seek shelter in your home. They are only looking for warmth like everyone else, so there’s no need to take extreme measures.

You can keep out unwanted guests by keeping your home clean and inaccessible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are natural or humane pest control methods effective?

When used correctly and regularly, humane methods can be effective. However, they will not act as fast as poisons and kill traps. To be compassionate is to be patient. You must implement techniques over a long period and focus more on prevention than eradication.

Is there a humane way to deal with a full-blown infestation?

You can increase your home's natural repellents if your pest problem has become a big infestation. However, it may be too difficult to fix the problem at that point. The best solution is to avoid letting it happen in the first place. Keep your house neat and clean, with food sealed away and any entry points closed up.

Can pests return to my home if caught and released?

Yes, they can. Even if you drop them off 100 yards away, they can still find their way back if your home provides them with what they need. That is why after you catch and release an animal, you must maintain your home so it is unattractive for them. They will be less likely to return if you cut off their access to food and shelter. 

References and Useful Resources

Britannica: Why Is Bird Poop White?

Cleveland Clinic: Arachnophobia (Fear of Spiders)

Easy Open Door: How to Keep Pests Out of Your Garage

Modded: What to Do With Food That is About to Expire

NIH PubMed: Bacteria Associated with Cockroaches: Health Risk or Biotechnological Opportunity?

NIH PubMed: Evaluation of Four Plant Extract Repellents for Management of the European Red Ant

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