While the rest of the world starts to hunker down and prepare for a gruelling winter, we Aussies are in the process of getting ready for a searing summer this October. As those in the northern hemisphere start pulling their wooly jumpers out of their wardrobes, bulk buying comfort foods and get ready to start spending a whole lot more time retreating under a duvet, we down south are sprucing up the home for the influx of social activities that come with the warmer ready. You won’t catch us binge watching Dark Tourist under the cover of our quilts. No, now’s the time for brunch with friends, dinner parties and, of course, the barbeques for which we are inexplicably legendary in other climes.
With an influx of guests on the cards, we all know that our homes are going to come under additional scrutiny. Indeed, every October we as a nation have a habit of spending a small fortune on professional cleaning services to make sure our homes are at their gleaming best. Of course, if you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance that you’d rather roll up your sleeves and do it yourself than fork out your hard-earned money on a professional cleaner, especially when you know that you can do just as good a job without the harmful chemicals that many cleaning companies use. However, there’s nothing more frustrating than labouring for hours to get the home spotless only to find a trail of ants parading over your immaculate quartz kitchen countertops or to have your moment of domestic victory sullied by the persistent buzz of an errant fly. Unfortunately, as the weather begins to heat up, so too do all manner of unwelcome guests emerge from their dark, dank hiding places and begin stalking out to new climes in search of food or somewhere dark to hide or breed.
Here we’ll look at some of the most common pests in Australian conurbations around this time of year and how to get them out of your home and keep them out so that you can enjoy a robust social life in an immaculate home and garden that draws admiring gasps from your guests rather than gasps of shock or revulsion…
One of Australia’s most persistent pests, our beloved country is home to literally thousands of different species of ant. Knowing which species has occupied your home is a great first step as different types of ant have subtly different physiologies, habits and social behaviours. The better you know the species, the better equipped you are to deal with it effectively. The most common ants which are most likely to gain entry into your home include;
- Bull ants
- Argentine ants.
- The black garden ant.
- Coastal brown ants.
Once the type of ant has been identified, you can tailor your approach to the specific traits of your unwelcome visitors. While a pest spraying may be the only way to eliminate these troublesome pests (especially if they have built a nest in your home or garden), there are some gentler methods which have proven effective at deterring ants from your home. The trick lies in identifying the points of ingress and treating the area with a substance which will repel them and prevent them from foraging within your home. If you don’t want to do harm to any of God’s creatures however small and tedious they may be, the following homemade deterrents use only natural ingredients and can keep ants at bay without proving a hazard for young children or household pets. These include;
- Coffee grounds- We all know that coffee grounds are a great natural compost, they are also a great ant deterrent that will keep the little critters at bay without harming them. Stuff them into perceived access points and watch them lose interest in your home.
- Chalk- Calcium carbonate is also a great way to keep ants away from points of entry without doing them any harm.
- Ground cinnamon- A little more discreet than chalk but will deter ants harmlessly.
- Lemon juice or vinegar- These acidic substances ruin the chemical scent trails that ants leave for one another, making it harder for them to find their way into your home.
Since ants tend to be attracted to errant food spills and crumbs, keeping your house clean and tidy will also go a long way towards ensuring that they don’t return.
Mice and rats
They may look cute and innocent, but rodents are wily, cunning, intelligent, tenacious and not only are they voraciously hungry they multiply at an alarming pace. Not only can they decimate your supplies of stored foods, but their urine and feces can be extremely harmful especially to any young children or elderly relatives staying with you. They have been known to spread a wide range of diseases among human populations from typhoid to the bubonic plague so while you may be sympathetic to your furry guests, cohabitation simply isn’t viable.
If the idea of using lethal traps is anathema to you, use humane traps to ensnare any curious rodents that have made their way into your home, then re-release them into the wild at least a few kilometres away. Rodents have been known to travel over a kilometer to return to viable food sources. Once you’ve identified and sealed up any points of ingress, use of sonic deterrents can help ensure that they never return without doing them any harm.
What’s a beautiful home without a glorious garden to go with it? If your verdant shrubbery is the envy of your neighbours, or if your homegrown produce makes your salads the stuff of legend, an invasion of garden weevils can go a long way towards ruining your summer. Fortunately, these pests are slow breeders and catching them before summer really begins to bloom offers the best chances for success. There are several common types of weevil which will try to sustain themselves on your home grown fruits and veggies or ornamental trees and plants. These include the;
Garden weevil- They’re around 7 mm long, greyish brown in colour with a pale V stripe across the rear and a distinct bulbous abdomen and protruding snout. When disturbed, they will remain still and pretend to be dead. They tend to attack vines, asparagus, strawberries, root vegetables, and ornamental plants, as well as causing severe damage to foliage and fruit on apple and citrus trees.
- Fuller’s rose weevil– Slightly larger than the garden weevil and dull grey-brown in colour with a broader snout. This pest is the bane of citrus and ornamental trees.
- Apple weevil- Typically around 8 mm long and shiny dark brown with a slightly bulbous abdomen. These flightless weevils attack grapevines, fruit and foliage of apple trees, fruit trees, olives and ornamental trees.
All weevils tend to be active at night and are best seen with a torch. Weevil larvae feed on the roots of plants, so one of your best defences against them is removing weeds. Avoid moving soil, fruit, tree prunings, bins or machinery from infested to non-infested areas to confine weevils to infested areas. Use a non-toxic spray to kill adult weevils in spring and you will be free of an infestation in summer as you will have caught them before they are able to lay eggs. As weevils are flightless, populations are quite easy to control. If, however, they get into your kitchen they can contaminate your food stores extremely quickly. Here are some tips on how to mitigate this.
As the weather heats up, many Australians will likely embark on long walks in the glorious sun with their furry friends. Just be wary that they may bring more back with them than the stick you threw for them. Fleas can be incredibly persistent pests and can live for up to a month even without a host to feed on.
Be sure to wash your pets regularly with flea shampoo as well as ensuring that wild animals such as possums (more on those shortly) are kept well away from the home. Once again, a well maintained home and garden is one of the best ways to keep fleas at bay. Vacuum your home regularly and it will suck up any fleas and their eggs. Moreover, keeping your garden well maintained and your lawn mowed leaves fewer hiding places for fleas to lurk and wait for a host.
They may look cute and cuddly and some may even keep them as pets (possible for the highly knowledgeable but not recommended) but these persistent scavengers are the bane of many Australian homes and gardens in the warmer months. They can be messy, destructive and noisy pests while they have also proven a menace to domestic cats and dogs in some cases. Not only can they wreak havoc in your home and garden they also tend to be carriers for smaller and even more persistent pests like fleas and ticks which could necessitate fumigation. Fortunately, a well kept household is a natural deterrent to possums. You can prevent them from taking an interest in your home by;
- Screening your lower decks to deny them access.
- Covering up your outdoor bins to prevent them from being lured by the smell of your discarded food.
- Keeping tree branches trimmed to prevent possums from gaining access to your roof.
Thanks for reading
Lynsey Queen of Clean xoxo