Think Green

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Alternatives to pesticides

Pests can be a nuisance. Whether they're scampering about the yard while you try to entertain guests or invading your home's interior when the weather outside pushes them indoors, pests are almost always unwelcome guests.

Many homeowners address pest problems with pesticides. But the Environmental Protection Agency notes that there are other ways for homeowners to control pest problems around their homes. Though sometimes pesticides prove the only way to effectively eradicate pest problems, the following are some more eco-friendly alternatives homeowners can try before opting for pesticides.

* Cut off food sources. One of the primary reasons pests infiltrate a home is to get food. Homeowners who don't create opportunities for pests to eat might be able to prevent infestations without the need for pesticides. When storing items in a pantry, make sure all boxes and bags are tightly sealed. Many pests can easily access food sources stored in cardboard boxes, so homeowners with roach or ant infestations might want to consider storing cereal, sugar and flour in sealable plastic containers that such pests cannot penetrate.

* Keep a tidy house. Pests do not only access food sources stored in the pantry. A dirty house is also very inviting to pests, who can feast on crumbs left behind on floors and tables. Don't leave crumbs lying around on tables or countertops, as such scraps might not seem like a meal to you but will serve as a great source of food for hungry pests. Sweep and mop kitchen floors to remove any traces of food that might have fallen on the ground while you were cooking, and be sure to vacuum around the table where you and your family eat dinner night.

* Don't be sunk by your sink. A dirty sink is another attraction pests can't resist. If your sink does not come equipped with a garbage disposal, install a food trap on the drain so food is not washing down the drain, where it can stick to the side of the pipe and attract pests. Dirty dishes should be cleaned immediately as well. If allowed to sit in the sink for hours or overnight, dirty dishes will attract hungry pests, so clean the dishes and then give your sink a quick cleaning once the dishes have been washed.

* Stay dry. Water is very attractive to pests and roaches in particular. A very small amount of water is all some roaches need to feel satisfied, so all surfaces and sinks should be kept dry. Drain water from the sink, as a sink full of water is attractive to roaches because they know how to swim and can use water as a food source. Leaky plumbing should also be addressed, as leaky faucets, hoses and pipes may create a pest-friendly environment that's difficult to eradicate once it's established.

* Address leaks around the house. A pest infestation also may be a byproduct of leaks around the house. Cracks or openings along the baseboards or behind the sink can create a point of entry for hungry pests, so seal any such cracks or openings as soon as possible. Pests also may enter a home through holes in window screens or march right in through the front door if there is any space between the bottom of the door and the floor. These repairs are both simple and effective at preventing pests from entering a home.

* Clear out clutter. Cluttered areas make great hiding places for pests. Stacks of old newspapers or magazines can obscure pests, and homeowners might have a full infestation without even knowing it. Removing such clutter eliminates potential hiding places for pests.

Though some pest problems may require the use of pesticides, homeowners who want to attempt a more eco-friendly approach to eradicating pests can do so in a number of ways.