Expelling Those Unwanted Visitors
ONCE it jumped, twice, but it couldn’t jump out of the trashcan. Now the office worker’s shriek made it forget the food its nose had led it to. Again it jumped, and again, but no success. A second office worker joined in with her scream on seeing this unwanted visitor. The little mouse was afraid of them, too. This fear finally helped it to leap out and run for its life.
In all parts of the world unwanted visitors make their appearance in the dwellings of men. Mosquitoes, houseflies, moths and beetles fly in. Cockroaches, ants, spiders and bedbugs crawl in or are carried in. Rats and mice walk in or chew their way into homes.
To many persons these visitors are unsightly. Others want them out of their homes because they eat and contaminate food, or bring disease to man in other ways. The cockroach has an oily, bacteria-laden coating on its body. Mice and rats carry fleas that can infect animals and humans. And a million people still die each year from malaria carried by the Anopheles mosquito in tropical and subtropical countries. So although the great majority of insects and other creatures are harmless and all of them perform beneficial functions, many persons try hard to discourage these particular visitors from dropping in.
The use of pesticides for this purpose is common. House sprays and fogging devices are used against mosquitoes, houseflies and other bugs. Solid poisons are used to fight rats and mice. It is important in using these pesticides to follow the printed directions closely. Do not contaminate food with them. Care should be taken not to breathe the vapors or to get the poisons on one’s skin. Any unused portions should be carefully stored out of reach of inquisitive children.
Pesticides, however, are not the panacea that many thought they would be. According to the United Nations 1979 World Environment Report, 364 species of insects and mites have developed resistance to pesticides. That report adds: “The danger of the situation is that there is reason to suppose that all pests are likely to be able to develop resistance to all types of chemical pesticide in time, with grave effects on both world health and world food production.”
That being the case, is there another approach to the problem of unwanted visitors? Yes. Whether pesticides are used or not, a housecleaning program must be followed to provide lasting results. In one prison, in a land where the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses was under ban, there was an extensive problem with cockroaches. The Witnesses incarcerated there asked permission to scrub the prison barracks with hot water. They knew hot water was all that would be provided. Every inch was scrubbed, in all their barracks. The prison authorities were surprised that the problem was brought under control with this simple method and followed up with more careful sanitary practices.
Basically, insects need an undisturbed place to live, along with a food and water supply. That is why cracks and crevices in the kitchen and bathroom are more prone to infestation. Daily cleanup of these areas along with a weekly thorough cleaning depletes the bugs’ food supply as well as disturbs their nesting places. While no one can keep every crumb of bread off the floor, food garbage should be removed from the home daily to the extent possible. Unused food should always be repackaged well.
Some years ago one large family had a problem with moths in one boy’s closet. The problem was solved when a bag of nuts was removed from the closet and opened. Out came a cloud of moths! Ever since then that family has had a regular spring-cleaning day each year. All in that family empty their closets and furniture and clean thoroughly. Such a regular cleaning program for all areas of the house lessens the problem with unwanted visitors when they do get in. Of course, the neighborhood will have an effect on how bug-free the home can be.
In addition to thorough cleaning, if your problem is with mice or rats, you will need to seal off any entryways that could let these creatures in. Keep in mind that a mouse can get through an opening as small as a quarter of an inch wide. If you decide to purchase mechanical traps, or lay out poison bait, set these along the walls of your home, as mice and rats like to run along walls.
On the other hand, there may be a harmless animal that could take care of your unwanted visitor. Housecats have helped many with their mouse problems. Others in North America find that erecting martin birdhouses in their yards helps care for mosquito and other insect problems. The book American Birds in Color states: “Persons who attract Martins to their gardens are amply repaid for their troubles. The bird’s diet is one hundred percent insectivorous, and the numbers of obnoxious insects consumed by a colony of Martins in a season would be fantastic.” If mosquitoes are your problem, the draining or covering of any standing water inside or outside the home is also important, as mosquitoes breed in standing water.
Whatever means you use to expel unwanted visitors will work best if it is accompanied by a thorough housekeeping program. The office workers mentioned at the outset decided to dispose of their food garbage outside their office each day. They also now keep food snacks in closed containers. They are happy too that most of the creatures on their “unwanted” list no longer come to visit.