By Lauren Lewis Innocenzi
With all the concrete and steel and hustle and bustle of urban life, sometimes we city dwellers forget about all those creepy, crawly, miniature members of society—that is until a giant, menacing spider rappels down from the ceiling and dangles in front of your eyes, causing you to run screaming in the other direction.
With the weather warming up, most of us are venturing forth from the confines of our winter habitats to take advantage of fresh air and get back in touch with Mother Nature. That means we’re spending more time with not just our four-legged friends, but also critters with eight legs and more. Instead of declaring a war on bugs this summer, why not take a more peaceful approach? Our insect brethren have just as much right to picnic on Earth as we do. Tails encourages you to ditch that fly swatter this summer and check out these tips to advance a more humane bug-human relationship. After all, July 10 is Don’t Step on a Bee Day.
Deterrence: This is the first and best line of defense. Bugs can’t bother you if they don’t want to be there in the first place. Begin by keeping things clean. Get rid of crumbs, sugar, and standing water (particularly overnight). Wash your countertops, cabinets, and floors with vinegar and water or a citrus-based cleaner. And keep your food stored in securely sealed containers.
Next, hit up your spice cabinet for some natural remedies for keeping insect invasions at bay. According to Compassionate Action Institute (PleaseBeKind.com), ants loathe cream of tartar, red chili powder, paprika, and dried peppermint. Sprinkle a small line at the entry point of your home, and they won’t cross it. EarthEasy.com also suggests using cucumber peels, citrus oil (which can be soaked into a piece of string), lemon juice, cinnamon, or coffee grounds. Cucumber can also work to repel cockroaches, as do bay leaves and catnip (just don’t leave a bunch of catnip around if you have a feline resident).
Use citronella candles or incense in lieu of casualty-causing bug zappers for flying insects such as mosquitoes. According to VeganSociety.com, burning citronella oil or basil oil near open windows can deter flies from entering. And for fending off wasps, check out the Waspinator (Waspinator.com), a product that “mimics an enemy nest, keeping territorial wasps away.”
Removal: If a spider or other wayward bug comes your way, go with the tried and true inverted jar trap and release them safely outside. Or invest $25 in a BugZooka (BugZooka.com), a contraption that uses suction to safely capture the offending insect in a removable container and allows you to transport him safely outdoors.
Coexistence: Remember that even though they’re creepy, crawly, and sometimes might sting or bite, insects are part of nature. Teaching children (and adults too!) to look and not touch is one way to keep relations harmonious. Chances are that loner ant traipsing across your picnic blanket isn’t going to harm you. That fly buzzing around your head is really more annoying than anything else. And those bees passing by might be responsible for that local honey you’re enjoying on your peanut butter and banana sandwich.