Anyone who has spent a few years living in an apartment has a pest story to tell. Whether your home has ants, roaches, mice or even (gasp) rats, having an apartment pest is practically a right of passage. When you see something scurry across the floor or into the kitchen cabinet, your first priority is to find a way to get rid of it, whatever it is. However, if minimizing animal suffering or keeping toxic chemicals out of your apartment is important to you, you may want to consider some humane pest control alternatives. Not all of them work well or reliably. On the other hand, if you have had problems with pests before, you’ll know that even conventional products frequently fail. If you are thinking of getting rid of your pests in an environmentally friendly, humane way, consider some of the following tips.
Conventional pest control methods rely on pesticides, glue or spring traps. If you have pets or small children in your apartment, you may be reluctant to use pesticides. Not only do pets or children run the risk of poisoning, they may also come upon dead or dying rodents and insects.
Glue traps consist of a sheet of plastic or paper covered with a sticky substance. Mice and rats become stuck when they run across the trap. Glue traps are common because they are easy to use and inexpensive. However, rodents usually die a slow, painful death from dehydration, suffocation or starvation. The dying mouse may be hard to ignore: the saying “quiet as a mouse” does not always apply to a mouse stuck on a glue trap. Traps also present an unpleasant cleanup problem. While your Super may be willing to put down a trap, he may not be willing or available to take it and the mouse out of your apartment. For these and other reasons, many people turn to alternative, more humane methods.
Seal off all cracks and holes
If you have rodents or insects in your apartment, the other units in your building are likely infested too. Even if your neighbors share your problem, you don’t have to share mice and rats with them. To keep rodents from traveling into your apartment from nearby units, physically seal off your apartment. Identify any holes greater than ¼ inch in diameter in your floors or walls and plug them with plaster or steel wool. Even if a crack looks too small to accommodate a mouse, plug it anyway. Mice can flatten their bodies to slip through extremely small openings.
Keep a clean house
Make sure food is stored in closed containers. If you have mice in your cabinets, make sure food is stored in sturdy plastic storage bins rather than plastic bags, which rodents can chew through. Of course, avoid leaving food out on counters when you are out of the apartment and keep garbage bags closed tight. These same methods are the most effective way to control insects. Make sure that window screens do not have any holes and there are no cracks in the sill that allow insects to enter.
If cleaning your apartment and sealing holes is ineffective, you can try a humane mousetrap. You can buy these at most hardware stores or online with a quick Google search. Humane traps lure rodents with bait, but instead of killing them, trap them inside an enclosed container. You can release the mouse outside without having to touch it. Bait the traps with chocolate, peanut butter or crackers on a day when you will have a chance to check on them periodically. Mice cannot spend more than a few hours without water.
Many companies advertise machines that emit noises that are too high for the human ear to hear, but annoy rodents and many insects. There is some debate over how well these “sonic pest repellers” actually work. While many people claim to have success with them, others report mice, spiders and other pests actually building nests and webs under the repellent device. These creatures may be initially repelled by the noise, but eventually tune it out when they learn that it doesn’t represent a threat. Before you invest $30 on this kind of pest repellent, ask family and friends for recommendations, or check out reviews from other customers on sites like Amazon.com.
Many natural products you have in your home can also be used in your fight against infestation. Ants are repelled by paprika; sprinkle it in front of areas where they enter your apartment. Lavender and garlic may also be effective against ants. Mice and rats also have an aversion to peppermint oil, which can be found in the baking and spices section of your local grocery store. Saturate cotton balls with the oil and place them in cracks and other areas where you’ve seen mice. The oil will also give your apartment a clean smell. There are a number of websites that give tips about how to get rid of pests using herbs and other natural substances.
Have you had any luck with other humane or environmentally friendly methods? If so, let us know!