There’s something about a home remedy that people just can’t pass up. There may be no scientific basis for something to work, no logical reason but people will hear it, catalog it in their minds and pass it along as gospel even if they have never tried it. It’s sort of like over hearing a ‘hot stock’ tip at a bus stop, you don’t actually run to a phone and call your broker and order 1000 shares but you do pass it along as if the information is rock solid and a ‘can’t lose.’ Don’t worry, Enron will make a comeback and your friend will be glad you gave him that great tip.
Years ago I had a handy man at my home doing some work. He was cutting some pressure treated lumber and I was torturing some fire ants in a mound nearby. (I was new to Florida and still learning about this sub tropical paradise) He came over with a handful of sawdust and threw it on the mound and said, “There, that’s good poison, those ant will die now.” He told me that the pressure treated wood kills bugs and I should look into using the dust rather than spending money on chemicals that don’t work. He finished his work and the next day I went out to inspect the mound. Not only did the mound get bigger but it seemed they used their new found construction material to add a small sub division. So much for that home recipe, you can see some others in my article “Myths about pest control.”
There are thousands of home remedies for all kinds of situations out there but so many of them for purposes of pest control just don’t work or worse yet, don’t work and are dangerous. Look, if you want advice on how to get red wine out of a wedding dress or how to grow bigger tomatoes check out www.thriftyfun.com, that’s a great site for home remedies. But for do it yourself pest control, why would you ever take the advice of someone who has at best, anecdotal evidence of some homemade concoction working against a certain pest.
What brought this to mind was a dear customer of mine forwarded an email that’s being circulated about Listerine killing mosquito’s. Maybe you’ve gotten it and said, “Hey I need to try that.” I’m sure that’s what my client thought at first but she’s smart enough to know to check things out before she starts spraying strange stuff around her home.
The general gist was that if you put Listerine in a sprits bottle and sprayed it around your door frame or picnic table you would kill and or repel millions of the little bloodsucking party crashers. There is also the same type of rumor about Dawn dishwashing soap put in an open dish with water. It too is said to attract and kill any would be attackers.
The truth is that neither of the home remedies work, not even in the slightest. While it’s true you may kill a mosquito that you spray directly with Listerine you would also get the same result if you hit them with a blast of whipped cream. Mosquito’s are attracted to 4 things and one of them is water so leaving a soapy dish of water may lure a mosquito in and they may even drown and die but that’s hardly the result that this ‘hot hint’ was promising.
The other 3 things mosquito’s are attracted to are warmth, body odor and carbon dioxide. The heavier the concentration of carbon dioxide the more mosquito’s. Repellents such as Deet don’t so much as repel the skeeter as they simply fool the receptors of mosquito’s and they don’t detect you.
Only the female bites (imagine that) and she does not need the blood for food but for the laying of her eggs. Without blood she cannot become a mommy. Mosquito’s actually depend on nectar for their meals.
Still, thousands of people will get this email in their inbox and it will automatically become the final say on this subject. They may try it and when a mosquito drops dead from the blast of Listerine tropical flavor they’ll swear by it until the end. Many more won’t even try it but pass it along as if they’ve just received word from the surgeon general himself.
Me, I won’t be replacing the cans of repellents in my trucks with quart sized bottles of Listerine any time soon. But maybe my customer was just giving me a subtle hint about my breath, so perhaps I’ll put a pack of gum in the glove box just in case.
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Information is a powerful thing and I hope together we can put to rest any undue arachnophobia’s.
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