One of the main concerns that pest control professionals are faced with is whether or not the chemicals they use are safe for households, especially those with young children and pets. The answer is usually the same: yes, all the chemicals used by professionals meet national safety regulations. But that doesn’t mean that they’re good for you, or that you’d want to be around them – especially if you knew how they worked to kill the pests!
Non-toxic pest control formulas include active ingredients which target specific pests only, or which work largely as a repellent rather than a poison. One of the most popular non-toxic pest control ingredients is diatomaceous earth, a silica-rich mineral powder which can be used like any other insect dust to kill ants, ticks, fleas, aphids, silverfish, bed bugs, spiders, mites, and other small crawling insects. Diatomaceous earth is not only non-toxic, it’s good for you – food-grade diatomaceous earth is often added to drinks or taken as a trace mineral supplement!
Another non-toxic pest control ingredient is citronella. Available as an essential oil, it can be used to make anything from diffusers to candles. It is strongly repellent to flying insects, especially mosquitoes. Just be careful not to get it on your skin, as it can cause reactions in some people if left on too long. Orange oil, the active component of which is d-limonene, is also a popular method of controlling aphids and other garden pests, especially on fruit trees – made up into a solution and added to a spray bottle, it kills bugs quickly and repels them from landing on the leaves again. For grubs and worms, milky spore – a safe, naturally occurring bacteria – can be applied around the affected area.
Electronic traps and bug killers are an effective, non-toxic way to kill lots of flying insects, including moths and flies. These traps use special lights to attract the bugs, which fly into an electrically charged mesh. It gives off no chemical odour or radiation, so it’s safe to use in rooms with people or pets. The only thing it really does is emit a loud buzzing sound when a bug hits the mesh, so most people keep theirs on their porch or balcony. Another alternative is fly and wasp paper, which attracts the bugs with a non-toxic food aroma and then kills them by starvation – they’re attached to the paper and can’t fly away.