Generally speaking, insects, mice, and other pests and vermin are enemies of our self-reliance. While there are many gidgets and gadgets today to help rid our lives of these nuisances, we really do need to look at addressing such problems without the presumption that we’ll have the luxury of such comfortable tools in the future. I would suggest specifically being capable of handling mice, rats, spiders, ants, excess flies, bed bugs, crickets, and mosquitoes, etc. as these intruders can compromise the viability of even the best self-reliance efforts.
Trips and Bed Bugs
My first experience in appreciating just how cushy we’ve got it in a civilized world was when I lived in the Philippines. We used to joke that a person had been in the Philippines too long when they resorted to tying a gecko to their bedpost at night in order to keep the mosquitoes away. It seemed to me at the time that getting chewed up by mosquitoes was almost a right of passage for new-comers in the Philippines. These bites would get so bad that to this day I have a “trauma mark” on my leg from a bug bite that supposedly will never go away. I was definitely not a fan of this nuisance and I tried many strategies to better protect myself with limited resources. Even highly acclaimed Avon Skin So Soft only worked for short periods of time. I would have to keep reapplying it to ensure that Thanksgiving didn’t come early for the blood suckers. One of my most memorable “freak out” moments was when I was kneeling ON my bed to say my prayers at night. I had long abandoned kneeling on the floor with all of the creepy crawlies. I had always understood that mice are more afraid of us than we are of them and wouldn’t infiltrate our world. Well, I say that’s a bunch of bologna! Several of them chose to crawl across me all at once during my prayer! I admit it; I freak out just at the sight of spiders, mice, rats and snakes, let alone when they try to join me for prayer! Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well that night. So, let’s make sure you don’t have the same experience--better yet, I’ll share some strategies with you so that you don’t risk losing valuable clothing, nutrition, health, and easily accessible water to such necessary evils.
Worried about more than Bed Bugs?
Mice and rats: Even if you don’t have need of them now, it’s wise for you to stock up on mouse traps—and peanut butter. No need to mess with poisons and risk exposing the family pet or children to them. But I assure you they LOVE peanut butter. I recommend traps before poison anyway because all that happens when you poison them is that they end up dying in the walls, and one of the smells I will never forget is the nasty smell of dead rats in the walls. Ugh! It was so bad I swear I could taste it. I’d fall asleep at night with a pillow over my face (to avoid the smell and any mice scurrying across me.) Good news with the peanut butter though; they aren’t choosy so you don’t need to splurge on a name brand. Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, spiders, lice, and bed bugs can make even Pollyanna turn into a sour puss; basically all of the creepy crawlies: A key strategy that’s perfectly safe for you and the pets, but deadly to the world of insects, is FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth. I’ve written several articles on this topic so I encourage you to do a search on this blog for it. In the meantime, I’ll cut to the chase and let you know that you can mix a couple tablespoons in about 4 cups of water and spray the mixture around your house and replace the guy who sprays the harsh chemicals. DE is one of my all time favorite gifts from the earth. That which you can spray on your garden leaves to keep pests away can also be consumed by your pets, cattle, children, and yourself to make you healthier. Additionally, consuming it will help your animal friends to repel mosquitoes and flies, or you could just spray their coats if you’d like, but it’s so much easier with many more benefits if you just add a bit to their food instead. I feed my small dogs about a teaspoon daily and I use 1 tablespoon in my water each day. (A cattleman/farmer first turned me on to this amazing tool and I continue to be amazed as I discover more and more uses for it.) Just as a quick reminder, I also put a tablespoon or two into my 5 gallon buckets of grains in order to kill the weevils. It’s got an infinite shelf-life and unlike oxygen absorbers it won’t pose a problem if a curious toddler decides to nosh on it. There are a lot of God-given plants which repel bugs and the nice side-effect is that plants also act as a filter of the air and creates oxygen for us. So, while I’m not an expert in this regard, I would suggest that you look into natural botanical repellants. Speaking of botanicals, I insist on having specific essential oils on hand to help me with the cause and effect of unwanted guests. (The four to eight-legged kind, folks. Unfortunately, I haven't found an essential oil which helps you get rid of unwanted in-laws or neighbors—though I have been practicing a new theory—if I talk to people about a non-existence “multi-level opportunity” they run for the hills! Mission accomplished. *insert wicked laugh here* Oh, oops!. I hope they don’t read this blog!) I insist on having Lavender on hand to heal the bites, even bee stings and non-poisonous spider bites, but there are plenty which actually repel them, such as tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, basil, and even geranium essential oil. In fact, putting a combination of these essential oils in a spray bottle with some aloe juice will result in a refreshing spritz that you can apply directly onto your skin. There’s a blend which I have stocked up on from Be Young Essential Oils called “Tic-a-boo.” I take it with me whenever I have to stay in a hotel while traveling. I just put a drop here and there on the mattress and pillows and I sleep well without worrying about bringing bed bugs home with me. In the Philippines, if there was even a grain of rice left out on the counter, an army of ants would quickly arrive. It was there that I learned about using chalk to repel them. Yes, chalk! It was a more toxic chalk than what we use here in the U.S., containing lead and mercury compounds, but this knowledge led me to better understand why diatomaceous earth works against these buggers. Ants breath through spiracles in their abdomens and clean themselves with their mouths. Even fire ants will avoid walking across a sprinkled line of DE, as it’s a fine dust that clogs their digestive systems AND dries them out. I’ve managed to fill an entire four-gallon bucket with several commercial bug repellant sprays that I’ve purchased for $0, or at the very least, 10% of their regular price—thanks to couponing; but I’d prefer to not have to use anything that contains Deet. There’s simply too much research that has influenced my animosity towards that ingredient. And if I’m enduring some type of long-term “preparedness” scenario, the last thing I need is one more thing that can pose as a poison for kids. If times are tough, then that means that traditional health care won’t be easily had either. (Yet, one more consideration in favor of taking these types of precautions now as well.) Let’s not forget making use of the natural warriors for unwanted pests—cats. Nowadays, de-clawing a cat is considered inhumane and I personally have to agree, which is why I didn’t have my little tyrant, Starry, de-clawed. But I also considered the ramification from a preparedness scenario. If my living circumstances were to “go South” having a good mouser is only possible if she’s got claws; and it’s also imperative for her to be able to defend herself against other unwanted invaders. While I don’t even like the thought of her having to live outside of our home, if things came down to it, she’d be living outside of the human shelter to help protect us against rodents and for cat box business. Once we turn her out that way, she’ll still come back for TLC, clean water, and her favorite snacks, but she’ll have to stay out of living quarters so as to ensure that she doesn’t bring in any diseases with her. Your canine friends will do a good job at protecting you from snakes and rats, but be sure that you feed them the DE to keep them from ticks and fleas, etc. There are some rather extreme “natural” measures that folks can use to control pests, such as actually attracting bats! Sure, they eat as much as 600 mosquitoes per hour. But frankly, I just don’t have the stomach for such nonsense. (Night blooming flowers such as primrose attract them, as do dense bushes, hollow trees, and abandoned buildings. Hey, you can even build a bat house –as opposed to a bird house. *shiver*) I can just hear it now, “Hey Honey, would you like to go camping with me this weekend? No. I loathe camping because of how dirty it is and all of the creepy crawlies. And besides, I’ve got bats to attract!” While I’ve read of some “preppers” attempting to initiate this effort, I think that such persons have way too much time on their hands or perhaps are attempting to sensationalize their preparedness efforts. I would definitely prioritize time towards every other aspect of self-reliance before I would go to the trouble of raising bats. Good grief, at least chickens, ducks, and turkeys provide me with a food source that I enjoy after they’ve fattened up on bugs, slugs, ticks, Japanese beetles, etc. Geesh! Bats…really?! My point being, remember I’m the laziest prepper you’ll ever meet. I simply don’t subscribe to taking on such projects when there are gardens to tend to, meats to be canned, and other skills to learn such as making a fire out of ice. *grin* Ultimately, the best tool for keeping these party poopers at bay is prevention, including immediately disposing of garbage, staying clean hygienically, and eliminating any food and garbage scraps. I’ve spoken to a whole lot of folks who haven’t given any thought towards stocking up on supplies which will keep their shelter or their own bodies clean. It seems that they would be less “macho” if they were to plan for such contingencies. But the fact of the matter is, the reason why we don’t have massive infestations in our homes now is because we keep them clean. Regardless of what you may be preparing for now, it’s important that you do plan on such cleanliness, regardless of your living circumstances. It was also a welcome sight to see the Filipino people take this counsel to heart. They would even sweep their dirt floors in order to rid the inside of their shelters from food crumbs and such that would attract rodents. Just as an FYI; before using ANY canned or bottled foods, it’s imperative that you clean the surface, as mice waste can carry several deadly viruses. This isn’t a “doomsday” suggestion, rather an everyday one. It’s in anticipation of these problems that I also have a great deal of protective gloves and air masks on hand. Never go into a questionable environment without proper protection. While there may come a time in your life in which you’re scavenging deserted dwellings for food, water and other supplies, I hope that you’ll remember to use such tools and precautions.
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