It's a battle that humans have fought for thousands of years... and ancient Egypt was no exception.
Like most places, Egypt has tales of epic warfare and heroic exploits. But the battle with head lice was no less significant.
One solution was a comb with closely spaced teeth, similar to what we use today, to pull lice out of the hair. However, ancient Egyptians also adopted an anti-lice practice that we now consider a defining fashion style of the era... baldness.
They shaved their heads to rob lice of their preferred environment. Without hair, the little bugs no longer had such a convenient place to nest and lay eggs.
But the ancient Egyptians weren't the first to come up with ways to chase away obnoxious critters. The earliest recorded use of pest control is believed to be that of the Sumerians (located in what's now Iraq), who used sulfur compounds to kill annoying bugs back in 2500 B.C.
Yet after thousands of years, we still haven't won the war. The battles between humans and pests still rage. And as you know, a key battleground is inside your own home...
More than 75% of homes reported some sort of creature infestation in the last year, according to a 2022 homeowners survey.
In my own home, wood moths would appear seemingly out of nowhere in the winter months. I'd kill them, and then another brood would pop up like mini Svengalis.
Of course, humankind has come a long way in the past 4,500 years. We have better ways of dealing with unwanted animals and bugs in our homes.
I don't mean the poisons and mousetraps you'll find at the hardware store. And I don't mean hiring an exterminator... The average cost of even a basic professional extermination runs several hundred dollars.
Today, I'll instead introduce you to one of my favorite affordable, safe, and effective pest-control methods. This technique will make your home an unpleasant place for these unwanted guests, but may make it even more enjoyable to you... without lining the pockets of big pest-control companies or endangering your family with harmful chemicals.
A Sweet-Smelling Approach
Longtime subscribers know that I love to use essential oils to create a fragrant home. But essential oils have another benefit... They're also a form of pest control.
Many of your home's potential invaders find the smell of certain essential oils to be so powerful, they stay away.
Using essential oils is not only a safe alternative to poison and trapping methods, but if you're using a scent you particularly enjoy, you can give your house a fresh smell at the same time you banish bothersome visitors.
Researchers have proven that this approach works...
A 2014 study found that house rats would eat significantly less from an area sprayed with a 5% to 10% concentration of eucalyptus oil than from an area that was not sprayed.
Another 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association concluded that a mixture of 32% lemon-eucalyptus oil and water will block more than 95% of mosquitoes over three hours. It is nearly as effective as harsher DEET bug sprays, though for a shorter period of time.
An Italian study from 2021 tested eight essential oils (anise, artemisia, fennel, garlic, lavender, mint, rosemary, and sage) to observe their ability to repel flour beetles. They found that all eight were effective, with anise being the best.
And a Saudi study from 2021 found that oregano oil was effective enough against mosquitoes to control the spread of dengue fever.
In my research, the essential oil that showed up the most on my list of natural repellents was peppermint oil. Mixing peppermint oil in water and spraying it on window and door sills around the house will ward off a huge range of pests – from snakes to mice to fruit flies – without actually harming any of them.
And if you have pets or grandchildren running around your house, they won't be in harm's way when you're using essential oils. They're 100% nontoxic in small quantities... Just be sure to dilute them.
Here are some of the best oils to use on certain pests:
- Citronella for fruit flies, ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, moths, snakes, and spiders.
- Eucalyptus for bees and wasps, rats, silverfish, and spiders.
- Lavender for fruit flies, house flies, scorpions, ticks, and silverfish.
- Lemon for mice and rats.
- Lemon eucalyptus for mosquitoes, especially when mixed with sunflower seed oil or witch hazel (a 1-to-10 ratio). (You can even spritz yourself with this mixture as a natural bug spray.)
- Peppermint for ants, carpenter bees, paper wasps, fruit flies, houseflies, mice and rats, millipedes and centipedes, cockroaches, scorpions, spiders, beetles, fleas, ticks, and snakes.
- Pine for bears (also neem oil), houseflies, and silverfish.
- Tea tree for millipedes and centipedes, silverfish, and termites.
Whichever essential-oil pest control you choose, it's simple to make and use...
Just mix a teaspoon of your essential oil with a cup of water and rubbing alcohol (equal parts) and put it in a spray bottle. Shake and spray wherever the pests are getting in, around once a week.
Try my tricks this summer (and again in the winter, too) to control pests on your terms.
Following my pesticide tips will save you a thousand dollars, easy... and let you skip calling the exterminator. Plus, your house will smell great year-round. You won't regret it.
Last month, I wrote about two other homemade pest solutions in our Retirement Millionaire publication. If you're a subscriber and you haven't seen it yet, look for it in your inbox. If you're not a subscriber yet, click here to learn more and sign up.
And let us know your favorite pest-control hacks. Drop us a line at [email protected].
What We're Reading...
- Something different: The evolution of the little black dress.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 8, 2023