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Getting rid of bugs and rodents without poison

Posted by Rona Fischman August 28, 2012 01:48 PM

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Last week, I got an email because the comment feature was acting up. If you are having problems with comments, write me. I will forward your email to the tech folks.

Hi. I tried to leave a comment at the story, but seems to be a glitch there. But I just had to pass along a tip about getting rid of mice. As an animal lover, I simply could not stand the idea of a painful trap or poison. But I also knew I couldn't live with the many visitors that were coming in to the kitchen every night. (As an aside, I do not suggest asking the exterminator to set Have-a-Heart traps for mice; he thought I was nuts.) After a bit of research and trial and error, our house is mouse free. The answer is vinegar. Plain white vinegar puddles everywhere that they might step their little feet. I spread this all over the counters every night for several months (and around the stove where I think they were coming up from basement; also around the edges of the room). They showed up less and less over time. Finally disappeared. I haven't used the vinegar for several months now, and still no mice. The real test was when we went away for 2 weeks. I expected that they would have moved back in while we were gone. Nothing. I read that they perceive the vinegar as the markings of a predator. I have no idea if this is true or not. Just wanted to pass along.

Have-a-heart traps might work to trap a mouse without harming it, but then, what do you do with it? If you let it go outside, it will come back for dinner. If you drive it far away, what a waste of time! If you forget about the trap, the poor critter dies a slow death from dehydration. Do you use them humanely? If so, how?

In the entry “Little Furry Things” I mentioned that rats hate peppermint. Peppermint oil is used a rat-deterrent. Since then, I had first-hand confirmation that rats will avoid it.

Now, I learn that vinegar works as a mouse-deterrent.

I heard from a homeowner in Lexington that she used wasabi paste to deter squirrels in her bird feeder. She put some on the routes to the feeder. When the squirrels got that on their paws, they didn’t come back to that place again. Birds are not affected by the hot stuff. There is some bird-feed with crushed chili in it so the feed is aversive to mammals, but still edible to the birds. I looked around on line and found that capsaicin,
the heat-producing chemical in wasabi mustard, has been studied as a rat aversion agent. It is also used as elephant repellent.

I have a go-to technique for trapping fruit flies. This involves killing them, but they die quickly. I found it on line years ago and it works well. Take a one or two-liter sized plastic beverage container. Cut a hole in the side about halfway up that is about the size of a tangerine. In the bottle, pour apple cider vinegar (not white vinegar) with a couple of drops of dish soap. The fruit flies swarm to it and can’t get out of the vinegar because of the dish soap.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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