Adventures in Green Insecticide
So summer time is here and with warm weather, brings bugs. All different types of bugs. I hate bugs. Especially cockroaches. We are mortal enemies. They traumatized me as a child and I have not been able to shake my fear. When I see them, I panic, loose my mind, jump on things and start screaming and dancing like I’ve caught the Holy Ghost. Now, let’s be clear, I am not a dirty person, nor did I grow up in a dirty household. I grew up in Texas, in a home surrounded by huge trees. As far as I am concerned, there are two types of roaches. Dirty people roaches and tree roaches. Dirty people roaches are the slim lined (narrow) brown roaches that people who do not know how to keep a clean house have. They are commonly referred to as German Cockroaches. Tree roaches are the gargantuan, mammoth looking, flying things that live in trees. You commonly find them where ever trees are present, along bayous and hanging out around man hole covers in Texas.
As a child playing outside on a warm day (we had a lot of those), they would swoop down from out of the trees land on my back, head or arm and no matter how fast I ran screaming and flailing my arms, they would cling to me like it was some sort of bull ride. Occasionally, one would make it inside the house and past the insecticide barrier my father would lay. Imagine getting ready for bed and just before you turn out the lights, seeing a movement of brown near your bed out of the corner of your eye. You flip the light on just in time to see a roach disappear under your bed. There is nothing worse, than spotting a roach and loosing it before it can be killed. It can lead to a very long and sleepless night in the dark. Every tickle or brush of the covers feels like something crawling on you. Very traumatic.
Now that you know my back story with roaches and that I hate all other bugs as well, you can understand why I decided after seeing a tree roach in the bathroom and some kind of bug that looks like a huge feather on the wall, to bug proof my home. As you may know by now if you follow my blog, I’m not big on chemicals and since I have a dog, I needed to find a green solution. So I turned to the internet. After some research, I decided to go with boric acid, diatomaceous earth, bay leaves and pepper spray.
Boric acid is lethal to roaches when ingested but mild enough to use around pets and children. When mixed with equal parts of sugar and placed along walls, the roaches attracted by the sugar, will run through it and when grooming themselves, will ingest it and die. Diatomaceous earth consists of a type of hard-shelled algae or diatom. It absorbs lipids and dries out the exoskeleton of the roaches and kills them from dehydration. Roaches apparently have a sense of smell and hate the smell of bay leaves, cedar and peppers. I couldn’t find any cedar shards or balls so I had to forego that method. I mixed up a powdered concoction of the d. earth, boric acid and sugar. I spread it along every wall in my house. I placed a bay leaf on every shelf in every cabinet and closet in my home. All that was left to do was to add a little water to my powder concoction and apply to cracks, window and door sills with a paint brush and pepper spray them. Pepper spray…
Now, when I found this pepper spray recipe, it never occurred to me that it may be very similar to if not the same as the pepper spray that law enforcement uses. I found two recipes, one that used water and Tobasco sauce and another that called for boiling hot peppers in water for a few minutes. The boiling peppers sounded more potent to me, so I opted for that recipe. I bought the hottest peppers I could find. I cut up two long hot peppers and three habanero peppers and brought them to a medium boil for about five minutes. I sneezed a couple times when I walked through the kitchen while they were boiling, but didn’t think much of it. After straining out the peppers and pouring the liquid into a spray bottle, I started with the linen closet. I had already removed everything in there set out to spray the shelves and the cracks I couldn’t reach. After a few sprays, my eyes started to burn. Since the closet is a small enclosed space, I thought maybe I should rethink this and I moved on to the bedroom to spray the windows. After a few more sprays, I was gagging, choking and coughing all at the same time. I felt like my lungs were on fire and my nose was running. I dropped the spray bottle and ran from the room trying to breathe. There seemed to be no place in my home that I could go to escape the flaming air. Eventually I decided it was time to walk the dog (who seemed unfazed), so that I could escape the fiery hell my home had become. That stuff was the truth! I am convinced I made military grade pepper spray. It took about an hour before I could breathe normally again and every now and then I would catch a ragged pepper breath and choke. The spray bottle is now sitting in the corner, far, far away from me. I would like to spray the EXTERIOR of my door and home, but I’m skurred. If I have to choke to death to use that stuff, I better not see even a nat in my home!
I hope this is useful to someone looking for a less toxic way to ward off pests in their home. If you decide to try pepper spray, DON’T use the hottest peppers you can find and spray while wearing a mask. PLEASE learn from my mistake!