Friday, August 10, 2012

Simply Solutions for Summer Bugs

2 of our Labrabull Puppies, the twins
You may have read my last post on So Honey What's For Dinner about the Fireman's Field Days, and noted that it included a short rant on insects.  Well, I have struggled with the 6 leggeds of the world for many years, and I have found some solutions that you can make up at home in your very own kitchen!
With so many of the bug sprays and pesticides being laden with organophosphates and other lovely chemicals, I wanted to find a way to keep my family and my home critter free, and still have a clean environment for all of us.
Here are 2 tried and true recipes that I make by the gallon all summer long:

Salty Lemon Flea Spray:

  • 12 lemon halves saved from juicing
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 4 cups water
In a large stock pot, combine the ingredients.  Bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 12 to 15 minutes.  Strain liquid through a sieve and then pour into a 32 ounce spray bottle.  Squirt your dogs or cats liberally, and allow to stand for 10 minutes.  Gently comb the dead fleas out of the fur.  May be repeated daily as needed until fleas are controlled.  Also safe for bedding and furniture~~test in a inconspicuous spot to ensure lemon juice does not bleach your fabrics.
****How it works:  the compound limonene, often found as an additive in commercial pesticides, softens the flea's exoskeleton, and the salt kills them.

Minty Mosquito Spray:

  • 1 tsp peppermint oil
  • 1 tsp rosemary oil
  • 1 tsp geranium oil
  • 3 tsp clove oil
  • 1 tsp citronella oil
  • 8 ounces witch hazel
Combine the ingredients in a small perfume bottle and shake well.  Spray as needed to repel mosquitos, biting flies, fleas, and other pests.  All of these ingredients can be purchased in most natural food stores, and should be stored in a cool dark place for best shelf life.  Safe for use on dogs and cats as well as people.
*****How it works:  the aromatics are unpleasant to bugs but lovely to us, and the clove oil helps act as a local anesthetic to numb up old bites.  The witch hazel acts as an astringent to help ease the swelling of old bites and prevent staph infections.

Other Tips and Tricks for treating an infestation organically:

  1. Launder bedding, clothing, curtains, towels in the hottest water recommended, adding Borax to the wash.  Sodium borate, the active ingredient in Borax helps kill insects and is found in many pesticide preparations for this reason.
  2. Steam clean furniture and carpets.  Adding borax and lemon juice to the water reservoir will help control eggs and larvae.
  3. Moving furniture away from the walls, spray the baseboards with the salty lemon spray.  Allow to sit, and then vacuum every crevice, nook and cranny.  Flip the furniture upside down and vacuum the bottom.  Return to normal position, and vacuum all cushions and pillows.  For pillows, place inside a large trash bag, and spritz with the Mosquito spray.  Vacuum the pillow inside the bag to kill any eggs or larvae.  Yes, I know this is work, but it really does the job.
  4. Wash your pet in dandruff shampoo~~the active ingredient controls itching from the bites.  Apply the salty lemon and mint sprays.  Let sit for 10 minutes then comb your pet thoroughly.  Repeat as needed.  Use blowdryer on lowest setting to thoroughly dry your pet.
  5. See your veterinarian and get the recommended prescription preventatives.  Yes, I know they are not "organic" but once the problem has been controlled, why bring them back into your home?
  6. If your animal or a family member is bitten by a tick, get to the doctor's office!  Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both treatable if caught early. 
Hope that this helps keep all of your family members, 2 and 4 legged, happy this summer!  ~~Lydia

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