All animals have feelings and have a right to live free from unnecessary suffering—regardless of whether they are considered “pests” or “ugly.”
As with our dealings with our fellow humans, the determination of when lethal defense against insects and animals is acceptable must be judged on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the level of the threat and the alternatives that are available. As Albert Schweitzer once said “Each of us must live daily from judgment to judgment, deciding each case as it arises as wisely and mercifully as we can.”
We realize that aggressive methods of defense must sometimes be resorted to under dire circumstances, whether the attacker is a flea, a bear, or a knife-wielding mugger. But PETA encourages nonlethal methods of insect and rodent control whenever possible.
Fortunately, you can control most insects safely and naturally with products that you probably have in your kitchen cabinets right now.
Ants in your kitchen, bathroom, or basement? Pour a line of cream of tartar, red chili powder, paprika, or dried peppermint at the place where ants enter the house—they won’t cross it. You can also try washing countertops, cabinets, and floors with equal parts vinegar and water.
If cockroaches have moved in, place whole bay leaves in several locations around the infested rooms, including inside kitchen cabinets. Bay leaves smell like dirty socks to cockroaches! For a serious infestation, you may need to resort to an insect growth regulator, called Gentrol, which nips the cockroach reproductive cycle in the bud (cockroaches exposed to it produce sterile offspring).
Mosquitos have few friends when the weather heats up. Taking B-complex vitamins or eating brewer’s yeast daily (including taking it in tablet form) during the summer months will help keep you mosquito-bite-free. Oil of citronella and oil of pennyroyal mint are both effective repellents when diluted with vodka or vegetable oil and dabbed on the skin. Mosquitos also hate the smell of fresh basil, so consider placing a few basil plants around your house.
A humane and great-smelling alternative to mothballs is to place cedar chips around clothes or store sachets made out of dried lavender or equal parts dried rosemary and mint in drawers and closets. To repel flies, hang clusters of cloves in a room, or leave an orange skin out. Click here to view PETA’s factsheet on safely combatting fleas.
Are there spiders sharing your home? If you must evict them, carefully trap them in an inverted jar and release them outside. If you find predators such as ladybugs, snakes, and praying mantises in your yard or garden, the best policy is to let them stay—they’ll help eliminate other “pests.”
Whatever you do, don’t buy cruel glue traps to catch mice. Mice die slowly in these sticky contraptions, breaking tiny limbs in an effort to escape or suffocating to death when their faces become mired in the glue. See PETA’s factsheet on glue traps for more information. Visit PETAMall.com to order a humane box trap that can be used to release mice, unharmed, outdoors.
Don’t give insects or rodents a food supply; keep living areas clean. Be careful to sweep up crumbs, wash dishes immediately, store food in tightly sealed containers, and empty garbage frequently. Often this will be enough to make unwelcome guests move on in search of better accommodations. Prevent insects and mice from entering your home in the first place by filling holes and cracks in walls with white glue or caulk.