Pesticides are designed to kill. That's why people use them. But researchers are increasingly finding that their effects aren't limited to the pests they're intended to wipe out. Aside from poisonings, synthetic chemical insect repellents have been linked to prostate cancer and other men's health problems, a common birth defect, nervous-system disruption, asthma attacks, seizures, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and childhood brain tumors, among other ailments. The good news is you can prevent bug bites and control other pest problems without poisoning the environment, yourself, or your family.
Here, 5 common pests that rear their ugly little heads this time of year, and some natural solutions.
Ticks are tiny—some as small as a pepper flake—but the diseases the blood-sucking creatures can transmit to humans, such as Lyme disease can take a huge toll on people's health. Your best defense:
1. Take a shower or bath within two hours of being outside in areas where ticks may be present.
2. Perform a whole-body tick check within 36 hours of being in your yard. Sooner, if you've been out in the woods.
3. Install a deer fence around your property, to keep out the critters that ticks latch on to.
4. Keep your grass mowed.
5. Install a gravel barrier between your yard and wooded areas, which helps keep tick-carrying mice out of your yard, and keep woodpiles neatly stacked so they don't become hiding places for ticks.
6. Use plant-based repellents that work. BiteBlocker is a safer alternative to DEET, and protects against ticks for two hours.