A practical guide to repelling indoor and outdoor pests using organic methods, updated with new information on getting rid of bedbugs and dust mites, plus includes updated online resources.
If you’ve ever had a swarm of fruit flies in your kitchen or a gopher wreaking havoc in your yard, you may have wondered what a conscientious gardener or homeowner can do short of heavy-duty chemical warfare. Dead Snails Leave No Trails is a comprehensive guide to repelling both indoor and outdoor pests using organic methods—it’s the perfect DIY solution to eliminate unwelcome visitors in your home and garden while keeping yourself,your family, and the environment safe from harmful chemicals.With a few easy-to-find items, you’ll learn how to:
• Make your own all-purpose pest repellents with simple ingredients like chile peppers and vinegar
• Use companion planting to attract beneficial insects and animals or repel harmful ones
• Keep four-legged intruders—including squirrels, deer, rabbits, and skunks—away from your prized vegetables and flowers
• Safely eliminate ants, roaches, and rodents from your house or apartment
• Protect your pets from critters like ticks and fleas
This revised edition contains newly updated information on today’s pest epidemics, like bedbugs, as well as new online resources for finding beneficial organisms that act as predators for specific pests. Full of tips, tricks, and straightforward instructions, Dead Snails Leave No Trails is the most user-friendly guide to indoor and outdoor natural pest solutions.
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About the Author
As one of the country’s first environmental TV reporters, LOREN NANCARROW has seen interest and knowledge in humans’ role in the natural environment grow significantly in the past three decades, and he’s been awarded some of broadcast journalism’s highest honors for reporting on environmental science and nature around the planet. When not covering the news, Loren has worked at improving the environment as a founding trustee of the EcoLife Foundation. The EcoLife Foundation has projects in the United States, Mexico, and Africa aimed at reducing carbon output, reforesting important habitat, and saving vulnerable species, like monarch butterflies in Mexico and mountain gorillas in Uganda. Loren makes his home in coastal Southern California. He and his wife, Susie, have three grown children. He is a passionate organic vegetable gardener.
A native Californian, JANET HOGAN TAYLOR graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology with emphasis in entomology. Janet took a job with the San Diego Zoo, where she became a senior keeper in the bird department. Never forgetting her roots in entomology, Janet helped develop several natural pest control techniques at the zoo to keep the birds and animals pest free. Currently, Janet works as an environmental scientist and resides in Southern California with her husband, a black lab named Drake, and hundreds of backyard birds, reptiles, and assorted varmints. She and her husband Brian, also an entomologist, have two grown children.
Loren and Janet have written three books together: Dead Snails Leave No Trails, Dead Daisies Make Me Crazy, and The Worm Book.
Read an Excerpt
Take a stroll through most home-and-garden stores these days and it’s easy to believe we’ve cured our addiction to chemicals. Terms like “organic,” “earth friendly,” “all natural,” “locally grown,” and so on are prominently displayed on product packaging. But our enlightenment may be more about slogans and marketing than a new understanding of the natural world and the importance of protecting it.
I realized how little we’ve moved toward chemical-free gardening while using social media. In addition to posting vacation pictures and keeping in touch with friends from back home, I use Facebook to share occasional gardening videos and images from my organic growing projects. Recently, I posted pictures of tomato hornworms, their sphinx moth mothers, and the cocoons containing the next generation of the hungry pests. My thinking was to connect the dots for gardeners who are suddenly finding the gigantic caterpillars in their gardens. Many people posted the inevitable: “Eewwww,” “Yuck,” and “Ohhh gross!” Quite a few people were surprised and appreciative that they now understood the pest’s life stages.
Aha! I had them, and I wanted to relate it to the best and least-toxic way to kill the garden bad guys. So I posted a picture of a hornworm covered with eggs from the tiny beneficial braconid wasp and added a short blurb explaining what the picture showed. I also suggested they be left in the garden when found with the eggs on their backs.
Now, after sharing my views for more than thirty years on TV in California, I assume the people who “friend” me on Facebook know I advocate less toxic methods of feeding our plants and managing pests. So I was shocked at the responses to my latest caterpillar and parasite picture. Those who commented advocated everything up to and including nuclear attack to kill the hornworm and especially the one with the growths all over its back. I reasoned with them: “No, wait—if left alone the eggs will hatch, and the baby wasps will eat the caterpillar and go on to search and destroy any other caterpillars in the garden!” They didn’t care. All they wanted was the thing gone; methods be damned. The last things they wanted were worms and wasps! Oh well, I tried. But I knew there had to be a better way—and that is precisely what my friend Janet Taylor and I hope to provide in the pages ahead.
Thank you for picking up Dead Snails Leave No Trails. Between these covers, Janet and I have compiled some unique ideas we’ve discovered to eliminate out-of-control pests. We also share some old-fashioned but logical methods of nonchemical gardening and pest control. Our goal is to consider how nature seeks balance. Infestations most often happen when that balance is upset, allowing single species to grow out of control. That’s exactly what we face when chemical pesticides are used. They are indiscriminate killers. Chemical insect sprays do not understand the difference between an insect that will eat your prized veggies and the ones that make their living by eating the same insect pests you want gone. When exterminating sprays enter the equation, everything is killed, and it’s the pests that return first and in greater numbers, followed much more slowly by the beneficial critters.
In an organically grown garden, balance is the general rule. Pests still exist, but so do the natural means of dealing with them. Unfortunately, in our efforts to harvest maximum amounts of food, we’ve come to view all insects as enemies. We have created chemical poisons to kill and chemical fertilizers to encourage growth. They each appear to achieve their objective, and in the case of chemical pesticides, they do their job too well. But again, most are indiscriminate and kill everything with which they come into contact. Too many of the victims are beneficial insects and animals, which perform the essential work of pollinating, breaking down organic matter, and killing pests. Our goal is to replicate nature when possible or to use the least toxic means of achieving our goal of a happy, healthy, natural home and garden.
My coauthor Janet is an entomologist by profession. Her knowledge of the insect world still astounds me, twenty years after we first met. She is the brains in this operation and knows more about the creepy crawlers in our homes and gardens than any ordinary person could ever hope to know. On the other hand, I turned my gardening hobby into part of my profession as a way to maintain sanity. As a southern California TV weatherman, I was going crazy. All those jokes are true. The weather is wonderful, but most days are between 65°F and 70°F, with night and morning low clouds and afternoon sunshine. The rest of the time there are either raging east winds that spark destructive wildfires or brief heavy downpours that cause hillsides to give way in the famous western mudslides.
Most of the year I was bored silly, repeating the same numbers and conditions day in and day out. When I began adding short segments on the native animals in my yard, or the ants that I found had invaded my kitchen counter, I was happily shocked by the response. People related. Some had wondered about the same creature in their yard or had awakened to the same ant invasion. When I met Janet, she said she’d noticed the TV segments and thought we should team up. Together, we’ve learned so much about the things that bug us, and together we’ve come up with some highly effective ways to foil pests and encourage the good guys. We hope you’ll agree that a chemical-free yard and garden, where nature is in balance, is a much nicer place to be.
Table of Contents
Chapter One. Pesticide Savvy
(Synthetic vs. Natural vs. Biological)
Integrated Pest Management • Pesticide Safety • Pesticide Information Resources
Chapter Two. Home Pest Control
Ants • Bedbugs • Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs • Cockroaches •
Dust Mites • Mice and Rats • Termites
Chapter Three. Garden Pest Control
Ants in the Garden • Aphids • Cabbage Loopers • Corn Earworms • Cucumber Beetles • Cutworms • Earwigs • Fruit Flies • Grasshoppers •
Green Fig Beetles • Gypsy Moths • Harlequin Bugs • Japanese Beetles •
Mealybugs and Scale Insects • Mosquitoes • Rose Slugs (Sawflies) • Rose Mildew • Snails and Slugs • Sow Bugs • Spider Mites • Squash Vine Borers • Tomato Hornworms • Whiteflies • Wireworms (Click Beetles)
Chapter Four. Pet Help
Fleas • Flies • Ticks
Chapter Five. Good Guys or Bad Guys?
Blister Beetles • Centipedes • Crane Flies • Crickets • Darkling Beetles (aka Stink Beetles) • Eucalyptus Long-Horned Beetles • Jerusalem Crickets • Snakes • Spiders • Spittle Bugs (Froghoppers) • Tarantula Hawk Wasps • Yellow Jacket Wasps
Chapter Six. Beneficial Insects and Animals
Bats • Bees • Green Lacewings • Ground Beetles (Carabid Beetles) • Hover Flies (Syrphid Flies) • Hummingbirds • Ladybugs (Ladybird Beetles) • Lizards • Nematodes • Parasitic Wasps • Praying Mantises • Robber Flies • Toads and Frogs
Chapter Seven. Beneficial Plants
and All-Purpose Repellents
Insect-Repelling Plants • Animal-Repelling Plants • All-Purpose Repellents
Chapter Eight. Four-Legged Intruders
Cats and Dogs • Deer • Gophers • Moles • Opossums • Rabbits • Skunks • Ground Squirrels • Tree Squirrels • Voles
Resources and Buying Guide
About the Authors