How to rid your home of summer pests

We all enjoy the warmth of summer, especially those long, balmy evenings. Unfortunately, however, so do other certain unwelcome guests, such as spiders and ants.

Fortunately, here in WA we don’t have to worry as much about venomous spiders (such as funnel- webs) as they do in NSW but we still have a few — just last week I found a redback in a gumboot.

But spiders are annoying mostly because they build unsightly webs on our houses and frighten the jeebies out of you when you walk into one.

There are no spider-killing baits or traps on the market. The reason for this is that, unlike cockroaches, they don’t eat with their legs and they are well off the ground, clear of any surface spray you might have used.

So we’re stuck with direct spray. You don’t have to buy an expensive insecticide, however, as a much cheaper alternative is available — methylated spirits.

The principle is simple; in just the same way that there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to kill a spider. Whereas insecticides poison them, and shoes crush them, metho suffocates them (I think). I’ve never been able to talk to a spider to confirm that but I just know that it works.

All you do is get a pressurised 5-litre sprayer from the hardware store (with an extension wand for those hard-to-reach cornices), fill it with metho, and you’re all set. Pump it up to a nice high pressure, find some spiders, and watch them freak out when they are doused with metho.

Give them a good squirt and make sure you saturate them. They’ll curl up into a little ball and be dead in a couple of minutes. And because it’s metho, you don’t have to worry about leaving any marks.

The metho spray works just as well on ants. Normally when you have an ant invasion you have a trail of them coming into your house, and then you see them all over your sills, walls, and kitchen benchtops. Once again, use the sprayer to squirt everything in sight. The metho will not damage curtains, walls, benchtops, or anything. It’ll drown the ants instantly, then all you need is a handheld vacuum cleaner (or paper towel) to get rid of them.

I think the metho also has the effect of removing the trail markers that the ants use to find their way into your kitchen.

Once you’ve removed the infestation, plonk down some Mortein ant baits. Find where they’re coming in, and put a few down right in their path. Ant sand also works well but it’s not as versatile as the baits.

Of course, you can also try eliminating the ants at the source. Boil your kettle, then go for a walk outside to look for those telltale little piles of sand (usually between pavers) that reveal an ant mound, and then have your vengeance on them with the boiling water.

So that’s it — water, metho (and the odd ant bait) are all you need to rid your house of summer pests.

Dr Chemical recommends

There is nothing worse than trying to sleep in summer, and as you are about to drop off you are woken by the high-pitched whine of a mosquito. Luckily, they are easy to kill with a Mortein Mozzie Zapper ($10.49, from supermarkets). This remarkable product is a small plastic device that you plug into a power point. It uses a small, insecticide-impregnated cardboard pad. As the pad is heated it drives vapours of tetramethrin into the air — an extremely effective mosquito (and midge) killer that is even harmless to babies — and they just fall out of the skies. 


© The West Australian

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