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Fact or Fiction: Addressing Old Wives’ Tales of Pest Control

ants in the kitchen

by Missy Henriksen, National Pest Control Management Association

Social media has made information sharing simple. Ideas, thoughts, and solutions are now readily passed from person to person. Most of the time, the ease of access to information is useful; however, as you’ve likely seen, there’s a lot of BAD information out there. I see it often when it comes to pest control. Some of it’s just silly. Some of it’s scary or dangerous – and thankfully, some of it is right on point. Since deciphering right from wrong information can be challenging, I thought I’d explore what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to do-it-yourself pest control remedies.

Sprinkle grits on the counter to provide a barrier against ants.

FICTION. I suppose in the south, where grits are revered, they are considered good for most anything. However, in this case, you are better off saving them for your dining pleasure, as they are NOT a deterrent for ants. In fact, ants may enjoy them as much as you do! This southern staple will ATTRACT pests rather than DETER them.

Bait your mousetrap with cheese.

FICTION. Thanks to television, cheese seems to be the food lure most often thought of for mice. Remember the old cartoon where Tom the Cat frequently tried to attract Jerry the Mouse to mousetraps with cheese treats? Silly Tom. He might have been more successful if he knew that mice prefer peanut butter. Thankfully Getem can help with rodent control.

Use bay leaves to keep pests away.

FACT. To protect your cooking supplies, place a bay leaf in or around your flour, rice, and other dried pantry staples. Some people prefer to place the leaves directly in contact with the food, while others favor taping the leaves around the canisters. Caution: While bay leaves are a deterrent, they are not a substitute for properly cleaning the pantry of spilled products.

Put a penny in a bag of water to repel mosquitoes and flies.

FICTION. This notion is so wrong. In fact, it’s actually backwards. Research has shown that shiny pennies might actually do more to attract insects then repel them. Keep your change in your pocket. Call Getem for truly effective mosquito control.

Vinegar can eliminate fruit flies.

FACT. Have you heard of the expression “you can catch more flies with sugar than you can with vinegar?” Well, that adage is only half true when it comes to fruit flies! They are frequently attracted to your kitchen by the sweetness of rotting or decaying fruit; however, a cup of vinegar covered with plastic wrap (with a hole in it) is incredibly effective in combating a fruit fly infestation.

Spraying peppermint oil on webs will eliminate spiders.

FICTION. Generally speaking, spraying anything that isn’t water on a spider web can cause them to abandon it…and construct a new one nearby. That leaves you with increased housing for spiders, which is never a good idea.

I could spend days and days exploring this topic. I will write again soon in the continuing effort to separate pest control fact from fiction. In the meantime, if you have any questions on natural remedies you’ve heard about, we would love to hear from you.

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