BRANDY THE CAT’S AND MY ADVENTURES IN BUG BUSTING
Another fun fact about your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger. She has only lived in Hawai’i for about a year and a half.
Upon moving to O’ahu, I was amazed by the ocean, the mountains, the flora, the fauna, the food- and the roaches. And ants. But mostly the roaches.
They just don’t go away do they?
Now I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “How hard is it to fight roaches? You just spray. They die. You live. Done.” Yes. However, there are two major things that stop me from this option.
1) My cat. Brandy the Cat. Cats, and for that matter, dogs, walk all over your house and have this pesky habit of licking their paws. So, what gets on them gets in their mouths. What gets in their mouths gets in their body. So the thought of potentially exposing my cat (and by the way, cats are way more susceptible to chemicals and oils than dogs) to toxic chemicals really did not sit well.
2) Exposing myself to chemicals. Sigh. I’m one of “those” people. I attempt to live my life as natural as possible- natural food, body care products, cleaning products, etc. So even in fighting the roaches and ants, I could not handle the thought of completely (note, I said COMPLETELY) compromising my beliefs.
Now, like I tell many customers who come into the store searching for natural remedies for fleas, sometimes you have to find a balance. A balance between only using natural remedies that will only keep the pests at bay/annoy them while they stick around, versus overdoing it with chemicals and creating a potentially toxic environment for you and your family- four legged and two. However, I believe that if you use chemical means as sparingly as possible and use natural methods to maintain, I do believe you can have almost the best of both worlds.
I am by no means an expert, but in light of keeping you and your pets happy and healthy, I thought I’d share Brandy and my Adventures in Bug Busting.
Repelling Vs. Exterminating
Let me just state for the record, I hate killing anything. Mammals, fish, bugs, spiders, lizards, humans- all them. I’m the person who traps creatures under cups and takes them outside. So know that I did not and do not take exterminating an infestation lightly. But it was either them or me. I’m convinced they would have carried me off in the night and forced me to be their human servant.
I started with trying to simply repel the roaches and ants. My criteria for roach repelling was: 1)Safe for kitty 2) Safe for humans 3) Can be found in my kitchen.
I had varying success with the following:
black pepper– throws ants off the trail. sprinkle it around where they march and they get confused and cannot keep following the same path. So if you put it near doorways or entry points, they have a difficult time repeatedly entering the house. Cons: There’s black pepper all over your house, and cats don’t like it. Also, if you go overboard like me, it looks like there’s roach excrement everywhere. Not exactly Martha Stewart Living.
bay leaves– classic roach deterrent. Your grandmother probably used this.Just put whole dried bay leaves where you don’t want roaches and they stay away. Mostly. It works to an extent. It kept my snack cabinet fairly roach free and worked for a time in my flatware drawer. For a time. I think if you have a mild infestation this annoys them enough to stay away. I said mild. (NOTE: do not let kitty chew on bay leaves, keep them out of her reach.)
catnip– Whoa Nelly! This one was fun! It works pretty well, but kitty got a little wacky every time I sprayed. Just boil some water, dump in some catnip, boil it, strain out the catnip, put the liquid in a spray bottle and spray where roaches tread. Roaches apparently hate the smell, but unfortunately so will you. Something about boiled catnip smells…bad. Stinky. However, desperate times called for desperate measures and this was probably the best homemade roach remedy I came across.
diatomaceous earth– this stuff really works. It’s basically ground up single cell sea creature fossils (diatoms). Diatomaceaous earth is generally safe for people and pets, but literally shreds roaches. I know this isn’t quite in the “repelling” category, but as natural remedies goes, this one is tops. You just sprinkle where roaches tread. They eat it, share it with their roachey brethren and then they all go to roach heaven together. Cons: Can be a little bit messy as it is a powder, and be careful spreading it around, as it’s not recommended to inhale too much of it.
Brandy was doing good, but I was starting to see more roaches. They were getting wise to my repelling tactics. It was time to move onto the big guns. Well, bigger. Definitely akin to a crossbow.
Brandy and I Get Serious
My first foray into “chemical warfare” was a product by the name of Gentrol. Gentrol is a growth regulator, which basically makes it impossible for roaches to reproduce. Eggs cannot progress to baby roaches and thus the life cycle of the roach is impeded. Its supposedly okay to use in food service establishments and kitchens, and once it dries is safe for kitties and doggies. In terms of chemical pest control it’s on the low end of the toxicity scale, so to speak. So I went all in.
I sprayed, kept Brandy locked in various rooms until the spray was dry and then let her out. It’s been almost a year since I started spraying once a month, and Brandy the Cat seems fine, she has not grown a second tail or a third eye.
Gentrol definitely was a big step forward. Between the all the sterile roaches, the catnip, the bay leaves and the black pepper, my house was beginning to be the inhospitable roach and and haven I’d always dreamed of. Then it started getting warmer. And warmer. And…
It’s Either Them or Us
I barely slept for 7 days because the roaches kept crawling on me in my sleep. Isn’t 7 days of sleeplessness when insanity sets in? It was time to take some serious action. So I went to Target.
I did it. I bought Combat roach traps. The hardcore ones that last for a year. I bought a whole bunch of ’em and dispersed them around the house where Brandy the Cat cannot get to them (I found out that if left in an accessible place she WILL play with them. NOT OKAY.).
In conjunction with a natural cedar oil based spray called Wondercide, which we sell at the store, my roach and ant problem has abated. Now and then I find the errant roach or ant in my bed or shoe or sock drawer, but those instances are few and far between.
I’ve found my balance.
I had to use one yucky product to hit ’em hard, occasionally a sort of yucky product to punch ’em in the face (the Gentrol, so I guess it’s not really kicking them in the face), then a natural product or two (still using the bay leaves and Wondercide) to maintain. I was able to keep Brandy the Cat safe and mostly uphold my natural lifestyle.
The Moral of This Story
The moral of this story is to remember that your pets share your house. They share every nook and cranny of it. From the floors to your bed to your couch to all the nose and paw level spaces in between. So whenever you treat your house in some manner, remember your fluffy family. Is it safe for them? Can they lick their paws safely? Can they eat their food safely in the same room you sprayed in?
When in doubt do your research. READ LABELS. If there’s something on a pesticide label that raises a red flag look into it. Don’t take any chances.
There is a way to have your cake -and leave it out on the counter for ten minutes without an entire army of roaches and ants invading and walking all over it and eating and taking it away- and eat it too.
Brandy and I did it. So can you.
~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger.