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Friday, October 9, 2009

Prudent Penny: Critter Control

I don't mean pets. In our house, that kind of critter control is impossible.

I mean the crawling, slithering and scampering kind. Aside from my introduction to scorpions, we haven't had any inside critters. I think the reason for that has been because this house is so incredibly insulated.

In contrast, our home in SE Texas seems to have a way for every creature on Earth to get in. We once had an armadillo come in through the doggie door. It happened in the middle of the night and the dogs (we had four back then) rousted up at once. They vaulted to the back room and commenced to playing armadillo volleyball with the terrified animal. The noise was deafening.

Greg got up with his gun thinking we'd had an intruder and instead found himself separating dogs from a balled up armadillo. It took forever to shoo him out, and even longer to calm the dogs down.

Hopefully, armadillos aren't your normal problem. Little crawly things are the ones that get my dander up. The thing I hated most when I moved down to Texas was those huge flying water bugs that look like roaches. They're called palmetto bugs and live in the warm and humid south. Ugh! They were transients so nothing seemed to stop them. They just waltzed in and out as they pleased.

Greg told me once when they lived in Florida his father chopped down a palm tree in front of their house and the thing exploded with thousands of those things that lived in the tree. Glad I wasn't there!

The best I can tell you about these crawlies is to keep vegetation near the house at a minimum. Like scorpions, they like to hide in leaf litter.

Mice: I hate killing mice. They look so cute, but they are horribly destructive and will chew through anything but glass and metal. (Mmm…reminds me of Iko.)

While I do have some large plastic storage bins, over the years I've tried to replace them with metal or glass for my food storage.

Again, sealing your house from the outside is crucial. Keep them from getting in and you'll save yourself a lot of grief. Mice can get in through the tiniest holes. Don't be misled into thinking you're safe. Caulk or repair every hole or crevice, no matter how small.

Spiders: Another creature I hate to kill, but they drove me to it only recently. I am constantly getting bitten by spiders. This could be why I have such good 'spidey' sense. LOL! Spiders are very beneficial. They'll eat a lot of nasty bugs that you DON'T want in your house.

The worst bite I ever got was from a brown recluse. Oh, man! Never again. I thought I was never going to see my hand again.

Like bees and wasps, I let spiders wander at will outdoors. Their benefits far outweighs the risks.

Snakes: Brothers and sisters, I could tell you a dozen stories about snake experiences. I don't know why they find me such interesting company. While we've never had snakes in the house, I have seen them in chicken coops, rabbit cages, in the woods and even in my office.

They'll normally come indoors if they smell a live food source like chicks or eggs. But during one torrential rain storm that left a lot of flooding, I walked in one Saturday morning to work some overtime when I heard a scraping sound by my feet.

My desk was near a wall and snakes like to slither next to the walls. I don’t think I ever moved so fast. I pushed my rolly chair as far from my desk as I could, not being able to believe there was a big snake in my nice modern office.

I boxed the rascal and threw him outside. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have gotten near him. It had a triangular head which is usually indicative of a poisonous snake. He also had a diamond shape pattern on his skin. Not good.

Since then, I've become braver, only because the snakes in question threatened my dogs or my livestock. I've shot at snakes, hacked at snakes and one time knifed him in the act of eating one of my chicks. Bad snake. Leave my chicks alone!

I don't like to kill snakes because they too provide a valuable service, but if they're poisonous or eating my animals, they have to go.

Except for wasps, which sometimes get into the garage, I try not to use any chemicals. Rather, I prefer to give them reasons not to enter the house.

Plant lavender to ward off scorpions, marigolds for a wide variety of garden pests and diatomaceous earth to kill roaches and ants.

But the most important thing you can do to prevent pests is to seal your home. Don't give them a way in.

Now if I can only find a way to keep Iko from being a pest. He tells me I have to buy him off. I wonder if I should buy stock in Milk Bones.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini -- http://mariazannini.blogspot.com/.

For more posts on permaculture and homesteading.

6 comments:

kathleen said...

I live in Florida and the palmetto bugs are as big as birds here...got my cat once :)
I found a product at www.pestoffense.com called the PEST OFFENSE. It plugs into my wall and makes the walls of my home uninviting for roaches, mice, and rats. I found it because I have a son with asthma and chemicals are a no-no..plus they have now proven links of indoor pesticides to children's leukemia and Parkinson's disease. Anyhow, it cost me about $30 and I have used it for over a year and the pests are gone!!!! Stay away from the Riddex product...1) doesnt work and 2) FTC action against them..not even supposed to be selling the product!!!!

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Kathleen.

I had heard of those sonic devices, but I didn't know anyone who had used them. Good to know!

PS I believe you when you said it got your cat. LOL!

Marianne Arkins said...

Palmetto Bugs...

and

...and the thing exploded with thousands of those things that lived in the tree...

:::shivers::: ...

I'm quite bug and critter friendly -- I don't live anywhere tropical, though, which makes a difference. No poisonous spideys and snakes here, so though it still hurts when they bite, it's not life or limb threatening.

Good advice, all of it.

Maria Zannini said...

SE Texas is semi tropical so we are always battling bugs down there. It's much easier in north Texas. But we still have some poisonous baddies.

Marian said...

Thank you for making me glad that I live in the Land of Always Winter. :) It's too cold here most of the time for those creatures. And they'd all scare me to a greater or lesser extent.

Maria Zannini said...

I hear ya! I grew up in Chicago, so a lot of these critters were a MAJOR learning experience for me.

I've screamed like a little girl on more than one occasion. LOL!