Repel Exclude Deter

Repel, Exclude, Deter


I. Repel

  • Plant a border of mint varieties, lavender, rosemary, sage, marigolds, snapdragons, geraniums.
  • From the San Francisco Chronicle,Flowers That Deter Animals include “aromatic annual herbs, such as mint, lavender and catnip. For perennial plants that repel mice, consider amaryllis (Amaryllis), lavender (Lavandula) or daffodils (Narcissus).”
  • Got mice in your car? See this link below – Protect Your Car
  • New organic products are on the market which include balsam fir, peppermint, clove, cinnamon, garlic barrier concentrate. Natures Mace rodent repellent contains essential oils peppermint, spearmint, garlic oils and putrescent egg.
  • Castor, clove, peppermint and cedar wood oilsRat Magic.
  • Motion detecting water sprays Spray Away Motion Activated Sprinkler and Solar Powered Motion Activated Animal Repellent Sprinkler
  • Strobe lights: Background is here. A product using LEDsRid-A-Rat

Professional-level repellents for mice and rats are available. You can Do-It-Yourself or you can ask a rodent/exclusion company.
Rat-Out Gel Garlic-based.
DeTour Contains white pepper.
Sold in containers it is called RoadBlock.
PRO-PELL is made up of peppermint, rosemary, and citronella essential oils that contain the smells and tastes that rodents hate. It is sprayed on the foundation of a building and is not easily washed off.
The Nixalite website has many useful products and suggestions for animal control.

II. Exclude

  • Seal all buildings. Do it yourself or hire a rodent exclusion company. Copper Blocker Pet Stopper is copper mesh to block holes. 
  • Do not overfill trash cans or dumpsters and make sure the lids are tightly closed and no spillage on the ground.
  • Maintain a tightly closed barbecue and clean after every use.
  • Maintain garage doors closed with door sweeps. Seal all entry points.
  • Underground Barriers – make a pea gravel trench barrier 6 inches deep in the ground and 2 feet wide.
  • From Food Quality and Safety magazine. Advice from the pros to the pros on keeping food manufacturing, storage, and dispensing facilities rodent-free – Exclusion: Most Powerful Weapon in Fight Against Rodents
  • SealUpProductsYou MUST seal holes which serve as rodent entryways!newrathouse


  • Encourage biodiversity. Animals that eat and frighten rats, mice, gophers and ground squirrels – coyotes, domestic dogs and cats, foxes, and bobcats all monitor and capture at rodent burrow entrances; skunks, rattlesnakes, and gopher snakes corner rodents in their burrows. Owls and hawks capture above ground.
  • Consider owl boxes and raptor poles/perches (one owl eats 1000 rodents a year!). Articles and links on owls and raptors for rodent control are on our main page here – Owls
  • Remove trash and secure garbage bins.
  • Pet food. Leave outside only enough for one feeding, this includes bird seeds.
  • Remove pet feces.
  • Pick up fallen fruit, use tree cuffs metal, plastic on large trees. 
  • Remove piles of debris, vegetation, and plants that feed and conceal rodents, such as ivy.
  • dumpsterbeforeafter1
  • This is what feeds and produces rodents – GARBAGE!
    Trash CANNOT overflow and LIDS MUST BE CLOSED and the area clean.
    Watch this video that shows what happens with open trash – rats overrunning neighborhood: Overflowing open dumpsters produce rats!

Never Use These Poison Products

Active ingredient is cholecalciferol, AKA Vitamin D. Despite the benign sounding name, it is one of the most dangerous mice and rat poisons on the market. It also has NO ANTIDOTE.


I. Repel

  • Break up burrow holes with a rod and pack them down solidly. They do not like their burrows to be disturbed and they will eventually move on.
  • Before sealing up the burrow holes add a few repellents
  • Use vanilla flavored coffee beans one cup in each hole, garlic cloves, cat, dog, and human hair can be placed in the burrow before closing it up
  • Predator urine! GOT CATS? Kitty litter with urine can be placed in the burrows.
    Those golden balls are great for protecting your garden!
  • Examples of Repellents: Critter Ridder uses a powerful pepper-based ingredient that impacts the animal’s senses of taste and smell, producing an effect that’s similar to biting into a red-hot jalapeño pepper.
    • Castor bean granules and oils work well. Gopher Max by Bonide is available at local stores.
    • Critter-Max is similar and available at EZ-Flow . Other related products can be found at American Natural Products website.
    • Uncle Ian’s squirrel/gopher repellent pepper base –
    • Plants – Daffodils, narcissus, most irises, dahlias, society garlic root systems form a natural barrier.
      Sour clover (Melilotus indicus) is a nitrogen fixer and has 8 foot long roots that repel gophers and ground squirrels. It was used in orchards for rodent control before the advent of pesticides. See Gopher Stopper Clover information.
  • Motion detecting water sprays Spray Away Motion Activated Sprinkler and Solar Powered Motion Activated Animal Repellent Sprinkler

II. Exclude 

  • You can reduce or prevent damage significantly by using 1/4 to 1/2 inch gauge stainless-steel mesh fencing to limit gophers’ and squirrels’ ability to invade your yard. Here are two companies that supply and install it:
    1) CATCH 
    Photos of mesh installation (805) 409-9090.
    2) Gophers Limited (831) 335-2400.
    Here is an example of what can be done in residential yards, and also for ballfields.
  • Install mesh fencing in front of openings, underneath porches, and around vegetation.
    To exclude from foundations or crawlspaces/porches, create an L- shaped barrier to at least 2 feet deep with the hardware cloth.
  • Surround a garden or field area with a trench barrier from 18 inches to 3 feet deep and 2 feet above the ground. Make an L-shaped bottom with the hardware cloth. 
  • Use hardware cloth to line your entire garden.
  • Construct a mesh cage around plants or the entire garden.
  • Here is a website for chew-proof netting – Chew Proof Netting

III. Deter

  • Allowing food sources and debris to accumulate is like inviting squirrels for a snack. Maintain the cleanliness of your yard to avoid attracting rodents.
  • Rake up fallen berries, nuts, acorns and fruit. 
  • Use tree cuffs metal, plastic on large trees. 
  • Pet food. Leave outside only enough for one feeding, this includes bird seeds. 
  • Remove trash and secure garbage bins.
  • Consider owl boxes (one owl eats 1000 rodents a year!), and raptor nesting platforms. See our website section on owls.
  • Consider snakes. Gopher snakes are harmless and love to eat gophers!
    You can buy them here:
  • Encourage biodiversity. Animals that eat and frighten rats, mice, gophers and ground squirrels – coyotes, domestic dogs and cats, foxes, and bobcats all monitor and capture at rodent burrow entrances; skunks, rattlesnakes, and gopher

Never Use These Poison Products


The  coyote (Canis Latrans), a member of the dog family, is native to California. It closely resembles a small German shepherd dog with the exception of the long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail. The coyote’s high-pitched, yodel-like yapping can frequently be heard at night.
Coyotes are an important part of the ecosystems they inhabit and they help to keep rodent populations in check.
The Latin name for coyotes is Canis latrans, which translates to “barking dog.”
They are extremely adaptive in both their diet and geographical distribution. They will eat just about anything, and can live in many places including  large urban centers, such as Los Angeles.
Coyote diet consists mainly of native fruits and small mammals such as rabbits, woodrats, and mice.
Coyotes are usually fearful and cautious around people. They are typically most active between dusk and dawn, but they can be seen any time of day or night.
Coyotes have been “clocked” running short distances at speeds of up to 40 MPH. Most coyotes can easily jump a 6 foot fence. 
Coyotes are monogamous, living their lifetime with one mate.
For more information, contact Project Coyote –
Here is a study about coyotes in the Santa Monica Mountains. It points out that after car collisions, rat poison is the number one cause of death –


If you see a coyote in your yard or neighborhood ALWAYS haze them away. 
Use a whistle or mini-horns. Fill a soda can with some coins or nuts & bolts and shake it to use as a noise-maker.
If walking, put your dog on a leash, if they aren’t already. Do NOT turn your dog loose to go after the coyote.
Raise your hands above your head, wave and make noise to shoo them away. Shout, clap your hands, shake your keys.


You can buy and install rollers for the top of your yard fence to help keep coyotes and other animals out, as well as your dogs and (possibly) cats in – You can also make yourself DIY fence-top rollers, see,
 Note: Rollers are less likely to keep coyotes out of your yard if your fence is shorter than 6 feet tall.
If you have chickens, rodent proof your chicken coop with stainless steel wiring. They will be attracted to backyard chickens and to the rodents that are attracted to the chicken feed.


NEVER intentionally feed a coyote.
Don’t keep pet food outside. Clean your grill after using, or store it inside your garage when not in use.
Securely cover your trash and recycling cans. If possible and practical, put your trash out the morning of pick-up, rather than the evening before.
Don’t add meat, bones, etc., to your compost pile. Ensure your compost bin is tightly and securely covered.
Pick up fallen fruit.
Keep cats indoors. Always is the safest, but at least between the dusk and dawn hours when coyotes tend to be most active.
Don’t leave any dog tied up outside, small or large. When tied up, it is no match for a coyote and is enticing to them.


Moles serve a wonderful function of keeping the soil healthy. They are natural aerators of the earth and distribute fertilizers as their tunneling loosens soil and mixes the topside humus with the lower soil. They eat grubs, which eventually turn into adult beetles, and the larvae of insects that cause the lawn to die.
Moles are a food source for foxes and other predators. An example that biodiversity is a key to a healthy Earth.

I. Repel

Coffee grounds: Sprinkle some fresh coffee grounds throughout the lawn and garden, or toss your brewed coffee grounds into the garden.

Garlic: Sprinkle freshly chopped garlic cloves in mole tunnel openings and surrounding soil. Or make a spray bottle solution of 2 cups water and 4 tsp. garlic powder, spray area.

Castor Oil: Castor oil is an all-natural repellent that delivers a foul smell to a mole’s tunnel. As a result, moles relocate from the area. Castor oil repellents come in liquid and granular form or make your own. The difference is in the modes of application:

Ready-to-Spray Liquid. A concentrated castor oil solution mixes with the water, covering the lawn and garden and penetrating into the ground.

Granules. Biodegradable, castor oil-infused repellent granules spread across the affected ground and are activated by water, which sends the repellent deep into the soil. To use across a large area of land, use a fertilizer or granule spreader.

Commercial Mole Repellents

  • Nature Mace’s Mole Repellent 100% Castor Oil
  • Enviro Pro Mole Scram Granular Repellent
  • Sweeney’s Mole and Gopher Repellent
  • Chase Mole Granules Repellent
  • Liquid Fence Mole Repellent
  • Scoot Mole Repellent

Here is an article about how to make your own.
Also, daffodils, narcissus, and irises are plants that are known to repel moles.

II. Exclude (same methods as for gophers)

  • You can reduce or prevent damage significantly by using 1/4 to 1/2 inch gauge stainless-steel mesh fencing to limit gophers’ and squirrels’ ability to invade your yard. Here are two companies that supply and install it:
    1) CATCH – 
    Photos of mesh installation (805) 409-9090.
    2) Gophers Limited (831) 335-2400.
    Here is an example of what can be done in residential yards, and also for ballfields.
  • Install mesh fencing in front of openings, underneath porches, and around vegetation.
    To exclude from foundations or crawlspaces/porches, create an L- shaped barrier to at least 2 feet deep with the hardware cloth.
  • Surround a garden or field area with a trench barrier from 18 inches to 3 feet deep and 2 feet above the ground. Make an L-shaped bottom with the hardware cloth. 
  • Use hardware cloth to line your entire garden.
  • Construct a mesh cage around plants or the entire garden.
  • Here is a website for chew-proof netting – Chew Proof Netting

III. Deter

  • Moles prefer moist and loamy soil, because it’s easy to dig through and is abundant in worms and grubs.
  • Use a lawn roller to pack down loose soil, making it less favorable to dig through.
  • Avoid over-watering your lawn to keep moisture levels down.

Wildlife – Los Angeles Animal Services Advice

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services has Animal Control Officers to aid residents in rectifying problems and some of the uneasiness that many people face with wildlife. This program allows for a Department representative to provide on-site evaluations, education on methods of exclusion, deterrents and discouragement of wildlife forays into our City neighborhoods.

Change in Thinking

The source of the problem is not the presence of wildlife, it is the environment that humans provide for them just by the simple manner in how we are the provider of food, water and cover for them. Many people are encouraging wild animals to live near their homes inadvertently or by design. Unfortunately, urban sprawl is something that remains a constant. If we are going to push further and further into the habitat of wild animals we need to be responsible for our behavior. Change in wildlife behavior through negative interactions with humans by using deterrents is one way to alter the types of encounters we have with them. In many cases this will teach further generations to avoid habitats where deterrent measures have been implemented. The opposite is also true as well; if we do nothing and allow things to remain unchecked then the wildlife behavior remains the same.


There are no laws, policies or mandates requiring the Department to remove native wildlife. These animals are a common and important integral part of our ecosystem, biosphere and the circle of life.

Snails and Slugs

Our constant mantra is that no poison is safe. Read the info here.

Sluggo is a poison that also kills earthworms.

A man-made chemical called EDTA, a chelating agent that causes the iron phosphate to release its elemental iron easily in the digestive systems of not only slugs and snails but of pretty much anything that eats it, children and pets and earth worms. EDTA or the similar EDDS are the only reason these baits are effective, yet interestingly the label only reads Active Ingredient: Iron Phosphate – 1%, Inert Ingredients – 99%. No mention is made of the presence of another chemical that can turn harmless iron phosphate into a deadly poison. Apparently EDTA was slipped through the cracks in our regulatory system as an “inert” ingredient, and inert ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Since iron phosphate is harmless, and EDTA is the ingredient that makes it effective, not to mention dangerous.

A review of these products by the Swiss organic certification organization (FiBL) discovered the EDTA content and stated that these products were likely no safer than the metaldehyde baits, that EDTA itself was significantly more poisonous than metaldehyde, and even said they weren’t even sure that it wasn’t the EDTA alone that was killing slugs and snails.

I have found that plant trapping works great. Give them what they want. Would you rather have ice cream for dinner or spinach? Farmers have used plant trapping to attract insects away from the desired crop. For example what I do is place cabbage heads around my garden to which the snails are attracted, and they leave my plants alone. Leave them alone and let them enjoy the cabbages. Soon enough a raccoon or skunk will appear and the population will be wiped out!

Putting Cats To Work

Ventura County Animal Services has healthy cats who would love to be put to work! These cats are unsuitable to be house pets but would flourish in a barn, horse stable, warehouse, garage, garden shed or other appropriate indoor/outdoor location. In return for your care, barn cats will help keep rodents away from feed, grain and food storage areas. Not only will you enjoy watching these cats work, you will be providing them a much-needed home. See their website Working Whiskers.

Here is a success story at Cal Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, making use of these cats: Cal Lutheran Cats.

Meet Mia the cat working at DIY Hardware Center in Agoura Hills.
She is a rescue from the local animal shelter.
Thank you DIY Center!

Got Glue Traps

NEVER use glue traps. They are cruel and inhumane. References:
• Humane Society:
 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:
• Wildcare:
• TV news story with an example of a hawk caught in a glue trap.

NEVER Use Traps Outside Your Home

Beware! A pest control company will tell you a fear story as to why you should have poison bait boxes outside of your home. Rats DO NOT die inside the poison bait boxes, they freely go out and poison other wildlife and pets. Repelling, excluding, and deterring is the solution for your home, not poisoning the environment outside.

Got Moth Balls

Here are links about why you should never use moth balls.

Good Guide Score Card: Chemical Profile

From Beyond Pesticides:
Gateway to the hazards of moth balls.
Clearing the Air of Toxic Moth Repellents
Moth ball pesticide linked to chromosomal aberrations in children
University of Colorado Scientists Find That Pesticides in Mothballs Are Carcinogenic

Got Disinfectants

Got Bleach

Cars/Automobiles. Hints for keeping them out.

  • Leave the hood up. Rodents are looking for a dark place to nest.
  • Store your dog food, cat food, and birdseed. Place all food in secure containers.
  • Remove or seal off rat hiding places near the car. Cut down nearby shrubbery and vines where they can hide. If you have a garage, block entrances to the building, spray them with substances or solutions that rats hate (see below).
  • Block small entrances to the engine. Seal block engine openings with wire screen.
  • Use electronic deterrent devices. Rodents can hear ultrasound, e.g., Mouse Blocker. Strobe lights like the LED-based Rid-a-Rat may work for longer periods, as they disrupt the darkness that rats prefer.
  • Make your engine and its entrances smell bad, at least to rats. Motorists have had success with peppermint oil, Pine-Sol, Irish Spring soap, red pepper, Fresh Cab, and laundry dryer sheets. The people who make Rataway tell you to spray it on all the wires in the engine.
  • Xcluder. Rat Engine Sealer. Creates a permanent barrier against rodents and insects. Poly fiber and stainless steel mesh expands for a secure fit. Fills small holes and gaps around HVAC lines, eaves, and more.
  • Copper Blocker Pet Stopper. Copper mesh to block holes.
  • Do not let the car sit unused. Drive it once in a while.
  • Honda Motor Tape. It is infused with capsaicin, hot pepper, and is used to wrap the wire harness.
  • Guardfather –  Magnetic container with essential oils that repel rodents from engines.
  • Car Rat Fencing – Do it yourself anti-rat fencing to block off car-entry.
  • How to Rodent Proof Your Engine – The Easy Way – Using peppermint oil in a spray bottle and applied to the engine compartment, rodents and most specifically rats are repelled by the smell.
  • Beware of rodents chewing your car’s wires – TV news video on the appeal of electrical wires to rats and how to repel them.

Got Fleas

Flea, the common name for the order Siphonaptera, includes 2,500 species of small flightless insects that survive as external parasites of mammals and birds. Fleas live by consuming blood from their hosts. Adult fleas grow to about 3 mm (0.12 in) long, are usually brown, and have bodies that are “flattened” sideways or narrow, enabling them to move through their host’s fur or feathers. They lack wings, but have strong claws preventing them from being dislodged, mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood, and hind legs extremely well adapted for jumping. They are able to leap a distance of some 50 times their body length.

Common anti-flea pesticides can make dogs sick with diarrhea, depression, muscle tremors, and respiratory failure. Keep chemicals away from snooping.
Here are a few natural ideas on how to keep your property flea free.

I. Repel Fleas

1. Plants That Repel Fleas

Summer is the high season for fleas, here are some plants that will naturally repel. Adding a few new plants to your garden could be well worth the effort. Many of the plants that repel fleas are fragrant herbs.

Flower of yellow-orange marigolds in garden
  • Catnip: If you have a cat, this is certainly a plant you want around your house. It will help to keep fleas off your kitty.
  • Chamomile: Keep other plants calmer, calm yourself and calm down flea activity at the same time with Chamomile.
  • Chrysanthemums: These beautiful flowers put off a natural chemical called pyrethrum that repels fleas, ticks and other insects.
  • Lavender: Beautiful, fragrant and flea repelling
  • Lemon Grass: This is also a mosquito repellent
  • Marigold: This is a multifunctional flower, one of its many benefits is being able to repel fleas.
  • Mint: The sweet smell of mint attracts humans, but it’s overpowering for fleas. Just about any member of the mint family works to keep them away.
  • Rosemary: The herb (not Rosemary Bog or Rosemary Pea) is highly effective at repelling fleas.
  • Sage: This plant is the largest member of the mint family and is good for providing coverage over a larger area.

2. Nematodes

Nematodes in the Steinernema genus feed of various garden pests, including young fleas. These beneficial predators are available at garden centers and can be applied to the soil by mixing with water and spraying the liquid across the lawn. Nematodes generally require regular moisture, so water the lawn every two days to ensure their survival..
Here are links to two companies that sells nematodes: FleaBusters and Arbico Organics.

3. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an effective and less toxic option to controlling fleas and ticks in your lawn. Diatomaceous earth contains sharp microscopic edges that will tear open insect larvae — including flea and tick — as they crawl across the soil. These sharp edges are not harmful to you or your pets but will cause the larvae to dry out and die. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in your lawn with a garden spreader. Using a garden spreader will provide an even application of the powder-like material. When purchasing diatomaceous earth, make sure it is the natural food grade DE and not the kind used in swimming pools, which is harmful to humans and animals.

4. Non-Toxic Flea Repellents

II. Exclude Fleas

  • Jet Pet Resort. 30 ways to naturally prevent and get rid of fleas on dogs.
    See “Fleas in the House” section.

III. Deter Fleas

Fleas and ticks with proper care and cultural control is the best defense . 
Fieas and ticks are generally prevalent in areas with tall weeds and grass, so keeping your lawn mowed and will help reduce the number of ticks in your yard. Another way to keep ticks and fleas at bay is to protect your pet with flea and tick control. 
How to get them off your pet, see
Home remedies for flea and tick control at Pet MD.

Got Ants?

The Benefit of Ants

There are over 12,000 named species of ants and at least double that many that remain to be discovered. And while we may not like them inside our house, ants serve a number of useful functions. Ants are agriculturally important in various parts of the world. 

Here are three ways ants can help you:

1. Turning More Soil Than Earthworms

Similar to earthworms, ants do a great job in creating healthy soil. Their tireless tunnel digging aerates and turns over tremendous amounts of dirt, bringing nutrients closer to the surface, and making it possible for rainwater to more completely hydrate the soil. Ants mix different layers and add nutrients, etc. Now a researcher from Arizona State University, Dr. Ronald Dorn, has found that ants are enhancing the breakdown of certain minerals and the movement of carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate (limestone). See this link. The bottom line: ants might be helping to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

2. Sowing Seeds

One of the most easily observed and important roles that ants play is to sow seeds. Seed-harvesting ants aid significantly in the dispersal, survival and germination rate of seeds. Ants do this by transporting them to new habitats and storing them in nests that are high in nutrients. In doing so, the newly dispersed seeds can sprout in an environment conducive to growth, protected from both seed predators and drought. This is one reason why many plants, including flowering plants across the country, are able to thrive in the wild. This ant-plant relationship is so symbiotic that many plants wait to bloom or bear fruit until ants become highly active early in the year.

3. Unwanted Guest Controls 

Ants are excellent natural exterminators. Many ants will feed on the eggs and larvae of troublesome insects like flies, fleas, silverfish, bed bugs and disease-carrying cockroaches. They also attack their number one enemy—termites. A good way to keep bothersome insects from taking over your yard is to encourage the colonization of ants around the perimeter of your yard. Having a variety of ant species in your yard says that the overall environment of your yard’s ecosystem is in good shape. Ants and other insects provide a good balance.

Here is an article about how ants are just as effective as chemical pesticides for protecting orchards in The Daily Beast, based on research reported in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

So unless ants are entering your home, consider allowing them to preform their important ecological functions in your yard or garden.

I. Repel Ants

  • Use natural ant repellents.
  • Do not use ant bait, or poison sprays like Raid that continue in the toxic waste stream from their point of manufacture to their ultimate destination in landfills or via runoff or sewage into our waterways and oceans.
  • Planting mint around the foundation of the house
  • Vinegar. Clean surfaces in your home with a half-and-half solution of white distilled vinegar and water. As an added bonus, this is a great mixture to use for cleaning in general, replacing detergents which have polluting phosphorus. Vinegar works because ants hate its smell, and the vinegar removes the scent trails they use to get around.
  • Lemon Juice. Just like vinegar, lemon juice also seems to destroy those scent trails that ants follow. Try spraying lemon juice around the places you think ants are using for entryways.
  • Peppermint Oil. Clean off your surfaces really well, and then wipe them down with a clean damp cloth that has a few drops of essential peppermint oil on it. 
  • Spices and Herbs. Place in entryways – cinnamon powder or stick , peppermint leaves, cloves, paprika. Place bay leaves in entryways , cabinets, drawers and containers. Place cloves of garlic around indoor and outdoor ant pathways.
  • Coffee Grounds. Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house. If you can locate exactly where the ants are getting in, be sure to put some there. You should see them move away from your home because they dislike the smell of coffee grounds.
  • Essential Oils. When a forager goes out and discovers food, it marks the path from the food to the nest using a pheromone trail. Other ants, who smell with their antennae, then follow the path. Certain botanical scents interfere with these scent trails  – here are a few of the most effective ones:
    a) Peppermint Essential Oil. Not only does this one work, it smells great! To use: Place a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe on baseboards and other entry points. You can also leave a peppermint-infused cotton ball in cabinets and other areas as needed. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone, or see below for how to use it as a spray.b) Tea Tree Essential OilTea tree is a great all-purpose oil to have around. I use it as a disinfectant in homemade cleaners and a general antiseptic.c) Lemon Or Orange Essential OilCitrus oils contain d-limonene, which is toxic to ants. It also masks their scent trails. (Orange, lemon and grapefruit essential oils all contain d-limonene)To use: Place a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe on baseboards and other entry points. You can also leave a citrus-infused cotton ball in cabinets and other areas as needed. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone, or see below for how to use it as a spray.
  • Chalk and Baby Powder. Try drawing a line of chalk or sprinkle baby powder across the spot where the ants are entering your home. It works because talcum powder, an ingredient in both chalk and baby powder, is a natural ant repellent.
  • Cucumber and Citrus Peels. You can repel ants by leaving these peelings in areas of known ant activity. That’s because cucumber and citrus peels are toxic to the types of fungi that ants feed on, so they don’t want to go anywhere near them.
  • Ant Away Spray:1/4 cup purified water
    • 1/4 cup vodka (Used to help suspend the oil in the water. If you don’t have any available you can just use water and shake often)
    • 15 drops peppermint essential oil
    • 15 drops tea tree essential oil
    • 7 drops citrus essential oil (orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc) OR 1-3 drops clove essential oil
    • Pour all ingredients into a small spray bottle.
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. If you’re spraying on a food surface, omit the tea tree oil and add 15 drops peppermint oil. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.
  • Vinegar Spray: Like essential oils, the smell of vinegar repels ants and also masks their scent trails. It is best used with another repellent, like citrus peels or essential oils.
    • How To Make Vinegar Spray:
    • Add 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water to a spray bottle. Add 30 drops of one of the essential oils listed above, if desired (If you are using clove oil, I recommend using just a few drops as it is very strong).
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.
  • Citrus Peel SprayAdd peels to a pot, then pour in enough water to cover them. Or if you prefer, add 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar. Heat water/vinegar until steaming, then turn stove off. Allow to steep overnight, then strain and pour the liquid in a spray bottle.
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Soap Spray. Like diatomaceous earth, soap also dissolves the waxy coating on the outside of the ant.
    • Fill a 1 quart spray bottle almost all the way to the top. Add 1/4 c. peppermint castile soap, attach nozzle, and shake gently to mix.
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.
  • Lemon Juice Spray works for the same reason as vinegar. It is best used with another repellent, like essential oils.
    • Add half lemon juice and half purified water to a spray bottle. Optional: Add 15 drops of essential oil for every 1/4 cup. If you are using clove oil, I recommend using just a few drops as it is very strong.
    • Spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.

II. Exclude Ants

  • Locate the source of the ants. When you see ants in your home, try to follow them back to the point where they entered. 
  • Seal as many entry points as possible: weather-strip doors and use caulking to fill gaps in window and door frames and around baseboards, pipes, sinks, toilets, and electrical outlets

III. Deter Ants

  • The key to ant control is cleanliness: wipe up food spills immediately, wipe down food preparation surfaces with soapy water, remove garbage frequently, clean food debris out of sinks, rinse well any dirty dishes left in the sink, and sweep and mop floors regularly.
  • Store the food most attractive to ants (honey, sugar, etc.) in the fridge or in jars with rubber gaskets and lids that close with a metal clamp, or zip-lock bags. Unless the lid of a screw-top jar has a rubber seal, ants will follow the threads right into the jar. A few layers of waxed paper (not plastic wrap) between the jar and the lid, if screwed down tightly, will work well as a barrier. Transfer other foods, such as cookies, cereals, crackers, etc in paper boxes, to containers with tight-fitting lids or zip locks. Paper and cardboard boxes are not ant-proof.
  • Don’t leave uneaten pet food in bowls. Feed your pet only what it will eat immediately, and then wash the bowl frequently.  If you need to have food on hand available to your pets, put the bowl inside of a larger soup bowl and create a shallow water moat around the bowl.
  • Keep kitchen scraps in a tightly sealed plastic or metal container.Wash glass, tin, and aluminum food containers thoroughly before tossing them into an indoor recycling bin.
  • Move your mulch bucket away from the house.
  • Remove debris near the house, bricks, logs, etc., trim back vegetation.
  • Prune trees and shrubs away from exterior walls, to prevent ants using them as a bridge into the house.
  • Try to cultivate a good relationship with the Daddy-Long-Legs spiders. They are intelligent and make their webs along the ant entry points, usually near the front door and the bathroom window. Let the spiders do their job.

Got Termites?

Beyond Pesticides is a nationwide organization that offers alternatives to pesticides. Please see the recommendations below. Here’s a great compendium of everything you could ever want to know about how to identify termites, the three types,and all the least toxic options:

We do not recommend tenting. Tenting is the most expensive and most toxic way to deal with termites. Sulfuryl Fluoride (Vikane), the commonly used poison, is labeled with the signal word “Danger” by the EPA, meaning that it is in the most acute toxic category of pesticides! All entranceways must be posted with a skull and crossbones sign.

Many materials that are exposed to this poison such as polyester cushion fibers, wool fabrics, and polystyrene insulation, can release it for up to 40 days post fumigation.  The long-term effects of using pesticides around children are questionable.

The EPA has a concern for neurotoxicity associated with inhalation of Sulfuryl Fluoride. The EPA has calculated that children are about five times more susceptible to it than adults – children are at significantly greater risk for neurotoxic effects after fumigation.

Please see this fact sheet from the Journal of Pesticide Reform –

Here is an article from MIT about Sulfuryl Flouride as a Greenhouse gas which lasts in the environment for 35 years –

Here are three companies that have alternatives for termite control:

Got Earwigs?

earwigs S

Earwigs make up the insect order Dermaptera. With about 2,000 species in 12 familes, they are one of the smaller insect orders. Earwigs have characteristic cerci, a pair of forceps-like pincers on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short, rarely used forewings, hence the scientific order name, “skin wings.” Some groups are tiny parasites on mammals and lack the typical pincers. Earwigs are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Earwigs are mostly nocturnal and often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects, decaying matter, and plants. They are beneficial for the garden, eating aphids, mites and nematodes. 

Some earwig specimen fossils are in the extinct suborders Archidermaptera or Eodermaptera, the former dating to the Late Triassic and the latter to the Middle Jurassic. Many orders of insect have been theorized to be closely related to earwigs, though the icebugs of Notoptera are most likely.

I. Repel Earwigs

Plant repelling herbs around the home such as Anise, Buckwheat, Cosmos, Dill, Fennel, and Tansy.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Buy food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle the white powder along the perimeter of your home or garden.

II. Exclude Earwigs

Fix leaking faucets, pipes, drains in and around your house.

Dampness is the ideal condition for earwigs to live and reproduce. Prevent this condition by checking your water sources in the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and outdoors to make sure that there are no leaks.  

Fill in cracks and holes near entrances to your house with caulk.Earwigs are likely to gain access to your home through gaps around your doorways or windows. Use a caulking gun to fill in small gaps. Review yearly.

III. Deter Earwigs

Adjust the outdoor lights to shine away from the house rather than directly onto patios and decks. Earwigs are attracted to lighting and will often find a comfy spot under chair/seat cushions, floor mats, welcome mats, etc.

Use sodium lights instead of regular lighting outdoors. Most light bulbs emit a blue wavelength that attracts bugs. Sodium lights, which are often used as grow lamps for seeding plants, emit a more yellow hue. Replace light bulbs on your porch or around your windows with sodium light bulbs.Purchase sodium lightbulbs at hardware stores or online. 

TCP Yellow Bug Light Bulb will serve for a long time, about 25,000 hours. It is reliable and cost-efficient. You can get comfortable and with bright enough illumination while earwigs are staying away. Typically earwigs perceive the wavelength range between 650 and 300 nm, which means they fail to see the color yellow.


 This bulb is equal to a 40W incandescent bulb, but uses only 5W, contributing to enhanced energy consumption. The bulbs neither kill nor repel earwigs, but accomplish a very important task — making your house invisible to earwigs. This function is a crucial one because you will be able to leave porch lights on in the evening and at night and will not risk attracting earwigs which are active at the nighttime. 

Make sure gutters and drain spouts drain AWAY from the home, rather than near the foundation. 

Remove any decaying plant matter around the house, flower beds, household plants, etc. Clean up debris serving as breeding areas including fallen leaves, plant debris, ripe fruits, lumber, and bricks.

Set a Damp Newspaper Trap
Leave some lightly-rolled damp newspaper around your garden for two or three days. Once the earwigs have moved in, you can move them to a preferred area. You can also use corrugated cardboard.

Attract Natural Predators
Consider making your garden a more attractive home for natural predators like birds and lizards. For example, installing rock piles in your garden can be a good way to attract lizards as it provides cover for them.

Birds are natural predators of earwigs. Attract birds to your garden by installing a bird feeder or bird bath to make the area appealing to them. You can also try planting berry bushes or fruit trees to entice birds.

Check drainage and irrigation systems to make sure that they function well. If they do not, you should repair or replace these systems. When irrigating the plants, do it frequently but more thoroughly. This will assist in reducing the humidity of the soil.

Eliminate moist conditions around air-conditioning units and in crawl spaces. Create a dry border along the foundation.

Got Snakes?

Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem.
They especially love to eat rodents and are an important control of the population.

For the homeowner you might want to relocate rattlesnakes and then put up snake fencing to block further access.

Some are poisonous and others are not.
The only venomous snake that we have in the Santa Monica Mountains is the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. 
Southern California is known to have an estimated 33 native snake species. 
Out of these 33 species, only seven are venomous, all varieties of rattlesnakes.

Here are two companies who wrangle and capture snakes, and put up fencing:

818-880-4269 (Home)
818-383-0476 (Cell)

(818) 489-4719

The difference between gopher snakes and rattlesnakes is given here:

Consider snakes for gopher control. Gopher snakes are harmless and love to eat gophers!
You can buy them here:

Our neighbor rescued this guy! They told us:
He got trapped in plastic that was protecting our neighbor’s strawberries from birds. It had billions of fine black plastic threads. So, so sad. 
I held the snake while he carefully cut the threads. It took forever.
So happy be able to save the sweet, gentle guy.
We brought him back the next day and let him go.
Happy snake!

Got Dumpsters?

Dumpsters are the number one cause of rodent problems.
What we often find is that people are BREEDING rodents by supplying them with ample food supply in the trash.
At commercial or business properties, ill-maintained DUMPSTERS are the source.

Go check your dumpsters.
1. Are the lids open ?
2. Are the lids pinned against the wall and cannot be closed?
3. Do they have lids at all?
4. Are the lids warped preventing them from sealing tightly?
5. Is there a gap in the center of the lid or edges larger than you could fit a DIME through? This is all a mouse needs to get inside to the endless food supply.
6. What is the condition of the dumpster? Is it rusted?
Are there any holes that have rusted through providing rodent access?
7. When was the dumpster last power washed? Dumpsters MUST be washed down on a regular schedule.

For any of the above problems, the company supplying the dumpsters is responsible for maintaining them. Contact the company that supplies the dumpsters to fix them. They are responsible for supplying safe and functioning dumpsters.

Unauthorized access and overstuffing the dumpsters must be prevented. A locking system, where a bar stretches across the top and can be locked at the side, is recommended. This stops both unauthorized access and overstuffing.

Request Safe, Sealable, Sanitary lids and Dumpsters for the health and protection of our citizens and those who serve the community.

Got Bait Boxes?

Next to open dumpsters and around buildings you will find multiple poison bait boxes. The property owners in general are not aware of the problem and may not even know the bait boxes are there! Here are steps to increase awareness.

Here is a YouTube video explaining the poison bait box business profit model.

I. Formulate an educational package of handouts for businesses. Include –

Your city’s Resolution opposing rodent poisons if it has passed one.
Here is a list of cities with Resolutions.

A copy of the city dumpster ordinances from the city’s Municipal Code. To find it, try Googling “{city name} municipal code”. Most cities have ordinances specifying that it is ILLEGAL TO LEAVE DUMPSTERS OPEN and trash on the ground.

Does the city have an educational pamphlet created by the city? Some that do are Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, Ojai, Camarillo. Here are examples.

•  All Things Are Connected graphic at All Things are Connected graphic

•  Photos of animals before and after poisoning. See Poisoned Animals web page

•  A letter of concern to the particular business summarizing the issue. We have examples of such letters.

•  See Repel,Exclude, Deter section (top of this page) for recommendations on rodent control.

II. Survey the area

Shopping malls, restaurants, businesses, and residential complexes are big users of poison bait boxes.

• Check in back of the malls and restaurants and businesses where the dumpsters arelocated.

•  Bait boxes come in various colors and shapes – black, silver, white, gray box shape or some that look like fake plastic rocks.

•  A label showing what ingredient is in use is required by law.

       – Usually, the ingredient is one item checked off in a list
       – Do not handle the bait box
       – The bait box by law must be tethered down
       – Photograph the bait boxes, including the label clearly.
       – Some bait boxes contain snap traps or repellents, not poison. 

• Types of rodent poisons – click here to identify the poisons in the box,

       – Anticoagulants: 1stand 2nd Generation
       – 2nd Generation ingredients are brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, difenacoum. Most commonly found are bromadiolone and difethialone
       – 1st Generation ingredients are usually diphacinone, chlorophacinone
       – Other poisons – Bromethalin, Zinc Phosphide, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), Strychnine
       – See Poison Summary for common names on the bait boxes

• Photograph the local dumpster situation. See preceding section Got Dumpsters for a check list on what can go wrong. Show the photos to the management. Recommend locking dumpsters and finding a pest control service that uses repellents. Western Exterminator is one example.

III. Outreach

• The city or Chamber of Commerce may have a listing of local businesses that are potential poison bait box users to canvas.

• At shopping or business complexes, it may be individual businesses or the overall property management that is in charge of obtaining the pest control service. Ask the businesses what the situation is. If it is the overall property management, get the contact information.

• Start a dialogue.
– Obtain email address to send educational information to.
– For individual small business, bring educational pamphlets in hand and ask for an appointment to see the manager or owner
– When educating larger chain stores, also obtain a corporate email address from the local management to start communication as the decision making authority may not be the local management.
– Restaurants sometimes are under the misconception that rodent poisons are necessary to obtain the “A” grade. This is completely untrue.
– Inform businesses that they will SAVE MONEY by getting rid of the monthly fee for resupplying the poison bait boxes.

• Homeowner Associations are big users of rodent poisons.

–  Is there an HOA member who is upset about the use of poison bait boxes? Have them set up a meeting with the HOA Board or the HOA membership.  We have given talks at many HOAs partnered with a wildlife biologist from the National Park Service which has an excellent outreach program.

Dear Reader – Please email us and let us know what works, and did not work for you. Thank you for your valued input.