FIDO: Hey, Fluff, I saw your mom going around with a spray bottle. What was she doing?
FLUFFY: Hi, Fido, we’ve been having a problem with ants. She was spraying some stuff so that they won’t come into the house.
FIDO: What was she using? My mom’s looking for ideas that will be safe for me. She doesn’t like to use that canned spray. She said it smells bad and is bad for us – the double whammy!
FLUFFY: You know, I bet a lot of pet parents would like to know more about safe and natural pest control.
FIDO: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
FLUFFY: I sure am. Let’s go find Meryl.
…And so they did. Here are some tips for easy, inexpensive, safe and natural pest control. Check them out – Fluffy and Fido will thank you!
First things first – keep them out! Although most bug infestations aren’t dangerous, they are annoying, so stopping them before they start is the goal. Here in Southern California, much of our warm weather is still ahead, and that brings plenty of opportunities for pests to take up residence as we come and go more often, open our doors and windows, and enjoy the outdoors. Now is the time to repair broken screens and make sure they fit windows and doors tightly. Pull out the caulking gun and seal up cracks and holes around doors and windows.
Take away their treats. Pests love to snack, so don’t let enticing odors give them reason to think your house is a restaurant. Keep trash tightly covered; ditto for food that you’re storing in drawers or cabinets. Clean up spills, crumbs and dishes right away. Some pests, such as cockroaches, are attracted by water, so don’t leave standing water in sinks, and tightly cover pots that you’re soaking until later.
Kick them out of bed. Newspapers and cardboard are favorite snuggle spots for bugs and rodents, so recycle them often.
Make them move. Here are a few natural remedies for the more common household pests.

Ants avoid chili pepper, pure cinnamon, cloves, coffee grounds, garlic, paprika, and dried peppermint. Sprinkle one or more of these spices or essential oils around the entry points and watch those ants scurry away! If you prefer to use a commercial brand, Orange Guard is non-toxic, and harmless to humans and other animals.


To get rid of occasional roaches, use adhesive based traps. The roaches will step on them and get stuck, and they’re not treated with chemicals, so your pets will be safe. Unfortunately, this only helps with occasional onesie-twosie roaches. If you’ve got an infestation, take your animals, move out for a few days, and have an exterminator come in.


Fleas are no fun. Try to avoid them by vacuuming floors and furniture, and washing pets frequently. If you do get fleas, wash everything that is washable, and vacuum very carefully. Don’t forget the corners! Then mix in a big bucket as follows: 1 gallon vinegar, ½ gallon water, 16 oz lemon juice, 8 oz witch hazel. Get a gallon sized garden spray bottle, and spray carpets, bedding, furniture and every nook and cranny of your house. Cover the bucket and then repeat spraying daily for a week. After that, once or twice a week should keep your home and your pets flea-free.


Fruit flies are the one downside of delicious summer fruit. Sometimes they just come in with the groceries. If you see even one, give the kitchen a good cleaning, and check your fruit. Get rid of anything that looks super-ripe immediately. Keep a spray bottle of water handy, and just spray them when you see them. The water will make their wings too heavy to fly. Keep the spray up, and they will drown. If you have a lot of fruit flies, pour half a glass of red wine or apple cider vinegar, and cover the glass with plastic wrap. Poke some holes in the plastic wrap so that the fruit flies can easily dive into the glass. They won’t be able to get out of the glass once they’re in, and they will eventually drown. If you don’t want to kill them, take a piece of ripe fruit and put it into a bowl that has a cover, but leave the cover off. Wait until the fruit is covered with fruit flies, put the cover on, and then take the fruit out and leave it somewhere far from your house!

Spiders are among the easiest pests to get rid of. Just spray your home with a mixture of essential peppermint oil and water, or vinegar and water. Spiders hate the smell of both. If you have nests, spray them with saline, and say “bye-bye spiders”.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, naturally pest free!
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.