It’s not even technically summer yet and it’s already hotter than you-know-where in Florida. Along with the summer heat comes the insects. Those of us with birds, pets and children know it’s especially important to reach a solution to these problems that is not toxic to those who might come in contact with it.
If you go to the supermarket, you will find shelves of insecticides and bug repellents like Off. Some of these products work really well. Combat ant traps are great, but they could also kill your bird should he gets a hold of one. A few years ago, I talked at length with a lady who lost her military macaw after he found one of these ant traps and tore into it like a foraging toy. It really isn’t worth the risk.
It is wise to use only natural products in any area that your bird might happen into. Keep in mind that many of the synthetic poisons used in the dangerous products are based on natural remedies. Manufacturers took the ideas from nature and produced chemicals that get the same job done at a cheaper cost to them. They are are hazardous to all that come in contact with them, not just the bugs. Recent studies have link Parkinson’s Disease to exposure to these chemicals. Natural products DO work and I encourage you to give them a try. The following information will provide you with some great tips on natural and safe remedies:
Marylin Zelinsjy-Syarto in her website Shelter Pop recommends these organic solutions:
Ants Most ants can be controlled with homemade bait made from peanut butter (two tablespoons), jelly (two tablespoons) and boric acid (one teaspoon). Put the bait in a small disposable container. To eliminate ant mounds outside, try this trick: Dampen the mounds with water, then pour on baking soda and a bit of white vinegar — the mixture will bubble and kill off the ants.
Mosquitoes Planting basil outside is known to repel flies and mosquitoes, but there is a new natural repellent with the main ingredient of catnip from Preventive Pest Control, a bug control service with locations nationwide.
Spiders Spiders can easily be killed with a mixture of water (40 percent), alcohol (40 percent) and dish soap (20 percent). Put the mixture in an inexpensive sprayer and spray on the spider.
Flies To repel flies, fill a one gallon clear plastic zip top bag less than halfway with water, then hang it near the top of your door, on your railings or from your eaves (you can do this by using duct tape, or, by gathering together and tying the top of the bag with rope, rubber bands or tape and then hooking it gently onto a nail without making a hole in the bag). Flies have compound vision so when they see the water, they will think there are hundreds of flies nearby and they won’t be interested in coming around anymore.
Cockroaches To control cockroaches, try Niban Bait, made from boric acid (it is available only online at Professional Pest Control Products.)
The Kitchen Physician at BirdsnWays.com offers this advice:
GENERAL PEST REMEDIES
Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be sprinkled on areas where pests are found. It contains the spent shells of tiny sea creatures that are sharp enough to damage the exoskeleton and cause insects to dehydrate. DE is harmless to humans and animals. Parrots should not breathe the powder as it is being applied in the aviary. One brand available in natural food markets is “Concern” by Necessary Organics.
Neem–the seed kernels of the Neem tree are rich in limonoids, bitter tasting chemicals that effectively block development, feeding and egg laying in many species of insects. The most powerful limonoid (azadirachtin) has been certified by health authorities in the USA and Europe as being non-toxic to birds, animals and humans, but highly effective against insects.
Ivory liquid dish-washing detergent, diluted with water to a 1 to 2% solution, provides insect control on many plants and is easy to mix. Spray plants until they are drenched.
Frogs, spiders, ladybugs, praying mantis, and dragon flies will help to reduce pest populations around the home and garden.
One bat will eat up to 600 mosquitoes, harmful moths and other insect pest per hour at night. Bats do not attack people or harm pets and can be encouraged to inhabit “bat houses” on your property. FRUIT FLIES
Place some of the birds’ discarded soft food in an open Ziploc bag in the evening. By morning, the bag will be full of fruit flies and can be sealed and discarded.
Place saucers of fragrant wine with a few drops of detergent in areas frequented by fruit flies. They will die happy!
Place fragrant fruit such as mango peels in the bottom of wine bottles. Fruit flies go in and cannot get out.
Wash counter-tops, cabinets, and floor with equal parts vinegar and water to deter ant infestations.
Sprinkle powdered cinnamon on ant trails. Several types of ants will not cross a barrier of cinnamon powder, powdered charcoal, bone meal, talcum powder, or chalk.
Parrot cage legs can be set in shallow pans filled with water–like small moats that ants cannot cross.
Fire ants–Killing the egg -laying queen is the only way to destroy the colony. Choose a day when the ground is dry. Gently sprinkle a teaspoon of instant grits on each fire-ant hill. The worker ants carry the grits to the queen who eats them. When she drinks water, the grits expand in her stomach and kill her. The remainder of the hill dies within a day.
Prevention–Close off all cracks around pipes and electric lines where roaches enter the house. Use cement, screening, or Brillo pads. Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures. Seal food tightly. Rinse food off dishes that are left overnight. Do not leave pet food out overnight.
Release small geckos in your home and aviary. Provide dishes of water for them to drink. They will feast upon the roaches at night in the late evening, and sleep out of sight during daylight hours.
Baking soda and powdered sugar mixed in equal parts and spread around infested area is a non-toxic roach killer.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be sprinkled on areas where roaches are seen. Parrots should not breathe the powder as it is being applied in the aviary. One brand available in natural food markets is “Concern” by Necessary Organics Inc.
Freeze bird seeds if possible to kill larvae and store all food in airtight containers.
Place basil leaves or mint teabags in bags or canisters of bird seed to repel moths.
Instead of using toxic mothballs in clothing storage areas, use whole cloves in cheesecloth or spice bags and hang them in closets or stored bags of clothing.
Place sticky fly strips (without pesticides) into an old bird cage or a closed basket out of the reach of children, birds, and other pets. Make your own sticky paper by boiling sugar, corn syrup, and water together. Spread the mixture on brown paper grocery bags. If a bird accidentally contacts fly paper and gets the sticky goo on its feathers, Citra-solv will safely remove it.
To prevent flies, keep garbage containers tightly closed. Sprinkle dry soap powder or flakes into garbage cans after they have been washed and allowed to dry.
In a small glass or jar, pour about one inch of real cider or red wine. Make a cover with saran wrap and a rubber band. Punch about six holes with a bamboo skewer or other shaper object. Flies will crawl in but cannot crawl out.
Avoid wearing perfume, bright colors, flowery prints, and bright jewelry as these items attract mosquitoes.
Burn citronella candles to repel insects.
Neem products repel and affect the development of mosquitoes. Two percent Neem oil mixed in coconut oil, when applied to exposed body parts, provides complete protection for twelve hours from bites of all anophelines. MICE
Place instant mashed potato powder or potato eyes (buds) in strategic places with a dish of water close by. After eating the powder or buds, mice will need water. Drinking water causes fatal bloating.
Use “snap traps” inside a box with an entrance hole large enough only for mice to prevent birds and other pets from being injured.
If you have OUTDOOR AVIARIES,you must be careful about the weed killers you use around them as well, especially if you live in an area where it doesn’t rain regularly. The Avenger from Green Advantage Organics was recommended to me.
These are by no means the only remedies that are safe and natural. Click here for variations used by readers of the Dollar Stretcher website.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.