Chemical vs. Natural Insecticide Remedies

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So, you've got a bit of a bug problem? There are plenty of steps you can take to rid your home of the pesky creatures, but you don't want to start bug-bombing until you've got all the facts on what's out there. Take a few moments to get knowledgeable about what's out there, what's harmful, and what works.

How Harmful Are Insecticides For The Environment?

Over the last decade, the United States has grown increasingly conscious of what it puts out into the environment. Insecticides, especially, can be harmful. The problem is that they tend to kill the all insect creatures in the area targeted, instead of the specific ones you intended to kill. They are dangerous for any animals that eat vegetation in the area that have been treated. Several state- and nation-wide measures have been put into effect to prevent the overuse of insecticides on large crops.

How Harmful Are Insecticides Inside The Home?

In a small dose, insecticides can't do to much damage, especially when used in the confines of your home. However, if you have small children or pets, you should be careful. Some illness and ailments can be further aggravated by the use of insecticides in the home, including:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema

If anyone in your home suffers from mild to severe respiratory problems, you might want to think twice before you lay down chemical insecticides indoors. As far as pets go, you can never really be sure if a pet is going to be attracted to the scent or taste of what you're spreading throughout your home. Dogs and cats are especially at risk, since they are the most likely to take part in unhealthy snacking. If you have pets that are prone to this, natural insecticides may be the way to go.

Ready for Planting

Chemical Insecticides

Finished Product

Natural Vinegar Insecticide

Chemical Vs. Natural Insecticides

The main chemical ingredient in traditional insecticides is DDT. Introduced at the turn of the century, DDT was created as a "safer" alternative to previous chemical treatments. It works by attacking the sodium channels in the body. Several years back, DDT starting getting a bad reputation among housewives who feared their homes were not safe if they were using a chemical traditionally used on large crops. Dozens of "DDT-free" products started hitting the shelves. Larger organizations, including the World Wildlife Federation, are also on the anti-DDT bandwagon, claiming that it has been harmful to animals for years.

There are several alternatives to DDT laden insecticides thanks to substitute chemicals. "Natural" insecticides have recently hit the stores in a big way. Chances are, if you purchased a natural insecticide, it won't have anything on the ingredient label that you can't pronounce. Natural insecticides tend to use common household items to deter pests, like:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Salt

Natural insecticides will cost you a bit more than the traditional insecticide options, and this can be disheartening considering that a lot of the ingredients can probably be found in your kitchen. In fact, scientifically savvy homemakers have taken to conjuring up their own mixture of home insecticide in their kitchens and spreading it around the house.

Are Natural Insecticides Effective?

The best natural insecticides on the market seem to work just as well as their chemical competition. Critics maintain that although it may take a few additional applications of the natural option, the insects will be gone just as effectively as they would with the traditional alternative. Ask a specialist at your home improvement store for recommendations, before you make a purchase.

Insecticide Alternatives

Bug traps are an easy way to get rid of bugs and insects in your home without spraying anything in the air. They are especially effective for small infestations of things like cockroaches and ants. Cruelty-free traps are also available, so that insects feel little to no pain in the process.

If you want to avoid the insecticide war all together, you could attempt one of the home remedies that have been kicking around for generations, like:

  • Boric acid
  • Onions
  • Black pepper
  • Vinegar

Mothballs have also proven effective in the home-war against insects and bugs. If you want to keep the animals away from your garden or window box, try using mixing strips of aluminum foil into your soil and mulch.

Keeping your house clear of pests like insects and bugs can be a job and a half. It is possible, however, and you don't need to feel alone in the fight. Make sure that you give whatever treatment you use time to take effect. However, if you find that one of your attempts isn't working, simply move on to a new product or method. As you've seen, there are plenty on the market, and probably plenty more to come.

Last Updated: September 13, 2011
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About Chanti Burnette Chanti was a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com.

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