When I first started working for Cornell Cooperative Extension in the mid-1970s, I was told that under no circumstances should I pass on home remedies to clients looking for information. The reason, of course, was due to liability issues. If I suggested a home remedy that didn’t work or caused damage, the University could be held responsible for my bad advice. All of the information I was allowed to share was based on scientific research conducted by universities, government agencies, or, more often, chemical companies trying to sell their products. When it came to making recommendations on pesticides, I was told, “Label rules”. If a specific parasite was not listed on the product label, it was a crime to use it against that particular parasite. I almost lost my job early on when I jokingly suggested in one of my Home & Garden newsletters that a live chicken could be used to clean the soot and creosote from a plant. chimney. I told readers to tie a rope around the chicken’s legs and pull it up and down the fireplace. Birds flapping their wings would effectively dislodge soot. A local poultry farmer didn’t see the humor in my comment and neither did the people of PETA.
Now that I’m retired and not getting paid for my advice, I can suggest home remedies that may or may not work and let readers try them for themselves, if they choose. This week, I’m going to share some home remedies that readers have suggested, or that I have used myself.
Perhaps the most common pest control questions I have received in recent years are about “creatures.” Deer have become a major nuisance throughout the region, especially in suburban areas. One reader has suggested a remedy that others have tried and found to be very effective. Beat two raw eggs, mix with a cup of milk, and let the mixture go rancid in an outside bucket or bucket. Add a gallon of water and a few drops of dish soap. Mix well, filter the solids and spray on your landscaping plants. This mixture works pretty well for weeks until it ends up washing off or spoils. Some people will add crushed garlic to the mixture, which can provide additional protection against other creatures.
Chipmunks are also common pests and they are indeed difficult to deter. A reader had problems with them climbing into her hanging baskets of petunias, where they chewed on the flower stems. She tried to put garlic in the baskets, but the chipmunks were unfazed. Then she tried putting sprigs of lavender in the basket and it seems to have done the trick. I would love to hear other readers talk about this technique. I much prefer the scent of lavender to garlic.
Most people know that deer ticks can spread Lyme disease and other serious illnesses, but fewer people know that ticks must acquire pathogens from small rodents, such as mice. It is these small rodent mammals that maintain and transmit pathogens to their offspring. Newly hatched ticks acquire the pathogens during their first blood meal and transport them to the nymph and adult stages, when they are more likely to feed on humans. Permethrin repellent is very effective in repelling and killing ticks. If you save cardboard tubes, such as toilet paper or paper towels and fill them with cotton balls sprayed with permethrin, mice (wear gloves) will often use these cotton balls as nesting material, thus killing ticks. One reader reports that this practice essentially eliminated deer ticks on his immediate property. He leaves the tubes wherever mice might nest, such as in his attic, sheds, basement, and other outbuildings.
Those of you who grow phlox or zinnias, or hollyhocks, know that powdery mildew, a fungal disease, can devastate them as well as many other ornamental and even food crops. Mixing two tablespoons of baking soda with a teaspoon of salad oil, plus a few drops of dish detergent and adding a gallon of water, makes a very effective protective fungicide that can be sprayed on sensitive plants before. that infection does not occur.
No one likes having a skunk nesting in a shed, porch, or outhouse. Since skunks are generally nocturnal, the solution is often to seal the entrance when the skunks are outside. To make sure you don’t accidentally seal them inside, spread some flour on the floor where you think the animal is going in and out. Come out at night in search of their telltale traces, moving away from the structure and seal the entry point.
Finally, to find out where bats can come in and out of your attic, put several bright lights in the attic at night and look for where the light escapes. Close openings at night when bats are outside.