Pest Control

Natural pest control

Bug Control with Reptiles
rats, rodents
Fly Strips
Moth Traps


Could anyone give me some advise on a bird safe method of getting rid of house flies? Since I don’t have AC they seem to be waiting for the door to open, it’s cooler in here.

We’ve also had a terrible problem, since our next door breeds rabbits (apparently a real draw for flies) and we also live in a warm climate. You’re right, they lie in wait to get into a house where it’s cooler. I tried every remedy I could think of that I thought was safe, but I didn’t find a real solution for the problem until I ordered “Fly Parasite Larvae” from Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co. This is an insect that parasitizes fly eggs. Each order of 2000 larvae is shipped in a small paper bag. They start hatching within a few days of arriving, at which time you disseminate them outdoors in your shrubbery. It took a few months, so wasn’t an instant solution, but was close to a complete solution. The website is: The customer service help line is: 800-531-5887 Pamela Clark

Here in Oz (where, due to lots of practice, we are world experts on all the ways of getting rid of flies!) there are sticky papers strips available that hang from the ceiling. When the flies land on them they are stuck. When the paper becomes overloaded with dead flies, you throw it out and put up another one. Also available (probably available in US also) are narrow plastic strips that hang across the doorway. The plastic strips are touching each other so flies can’t get through. When you walk through the doorway the flies get brushed off and stay outside. Absolutely non toxic, low cost and very little work in both these methods. Carole Bryant

Someone on my herb list wrote in that the very best fly repellent was Purple leaf Basil in planters at windows and doorways.I just grow it in hanging pots and fertilize the heck out of it as the more leaves the wind has to blow the better.  You can take the leaves and make a sun tea out of them and spray this on your animals (protecting their eyes, of course).

You can use any plant that puts out an odor like oregano, sage, some mints and others, but I prefer the basil as it is both pretty and pungent.  I haven’t had any problems this year so I have not had to put any out.  You can get the plants from a nursery or start them early in march in your egg cartons from seed.  I know this works as I used it with my goats when I first got them.  I never knew there could be so many flies and bugs in such a small barn.  I used sprays, fly paper, automatic insect spray dispenser and was running out of ideas except to bring the goats into the house!  Then someone told me about this purple basil.  I thought, sure a plant hanging in the door is going to stop all this!  I was shocked!  It worked.  And if you plant it outside in an area of your yard, it will come up again next year.  I have lost all of mine now.  But I don’t really need it. But I guarantee you if I ever have a problem, I will grow purple basil again. -Arlene

Tanacetum vulgare TANSY Versatile fly repelling herb, use anywhere flies become annoying. Bunches must be bruised for oil or sap to be released from the herb to be effective. Replenish as needed. Do not take internally. Cheers! Marnie

Mosquitoes The problem with Malathion is it is an equal opportunity poison, killing beneficial insects as well as target insects.  They would do better to use BT Israelensis, which is a bacteria, that kills only mosquitos.  It also hangs around in water pools, so it continues killing mosquitos. Malathion they will have to spray again. Nadine

Bug control with reptiles

I have birds so I won’t use any harmful chemicals.

This reminded me of the time I lived in an apartment. I had roaches but  refused to let them spray. I went to a pet store and asked if they had a bug  eating lizard I could let go in my apartment. The guy told me that people in  South America use Geckos to control bugs.

I bought this strange looking green  one with red poka-dots on it, it was a species of Gecko that started with a  T. Well it was the biggest one and I assumed I needed a big one. I took him  home opened the bag it hissed at me and ran off. I named him Godzilla. Well,  Godzilla did a great job I rarely saw him. When I did I noticed he was  getting even bigger.

I was at another pet store and was looking at the Geckos  a herp specialist came over and started talking to me. I told him I let one  of the Geckos loose in my apartment to control roaches. He said you let one  of those loose. I said yes. He said what ever you do, do not corner the  lizard for they can be very aggressive. This made me fell real safe. I had  nightmares of Godzilla munching on me in my sleep.

After Hurricane Andrew my  brother had been without power for 2 weeks. His house is on a well and he  needed a shower real bad. I had assumed Godzilla had gotten loose somehow for  I had not see him in a long time. I was on the phone with my mother when I  heard my brother scream like a woman. Godzilla was on the shower curtain. It  was too funny.

Godzilla was a great insect controller, but I am not sure I  want to let another one loose in my house. If I can find a less aggressive  gecko I would probably do it again. Ginger

Dear Ginger: That was a Tokay Gecko. They are used quite a bit in Arizona for pest control – even in restaurants! I also had one in my home for several years.  We named him “Bug Buster”. He  eventually got away, thru a window where a screen was missing, but he was great on pest control.

We knew where “Buster” lived at night, the entire time. He would crawl up between a wood beam and the wall, above our front door. In the winter time, we would buy crickets for him to eat. We would release about 20 crickets on the ledge over the door, and Buster would run down and eat all 20 of them in the flash of an eye!

Tokays are nocturnal, so they are rarely seen in the daytime. If we were up late watching TV, we would see Buster doing his night-time rounds. He was really amazing! Never had a bug in the house while he lived with us! I have been reluctant to get another one, because they do  eventually find their way outside, and they are not native species, and will eat wild bird eggs, which is highly discouraged here. Mary Sara Fields


I do get my house teated quarterly with a product called Ficam. The active ingredient is pyrethrins (from flowers). I always have the birds outside when it’s being sprayed, but have never had any trouble with it afterwards.

I looked up Ficam, and the active ingredient is Bendiocarb. Here is a site with some info regarding this ingredient. Here is a quote from this site.

ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS Effects on Birds Bendiocarb is highly toxic to birds. The LD50 for mallard ducks is 3.1 mg/kg,  and for quail is 19 mg/kg.  Regards, Linda

Thanks Linda. The “bug man” gave me a booklet on it when he first came – long lost. I’ll have to get another because I know it said it contained pyrethrins. At any rate, I’ve had no problem with it. And, I seem to be somewhat sensitive to insecticides. One day, the “boss” showed up instead of my regular guy and started spraying. I just assumed that they all used the same product. He was busy spraying the living room and I finally asked him what it was because I could “feel” it. I know that doesn’t make much sense. It wasn’t like I was having an allergic reaction, but something was off. he told me he used a different product because it was odorless etc. Well, I had to tell him that I didn’t like it and wouldn’t have it used again. I’ve never had that type of reaction with the Ficam. Pat


Pyrethrum is made from Chrysanthemums. PYRETHRUM. Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium. Zones 4-9. Description: Tall perennial with yellow and white daisy-like  flowers grows to 75cm (30in). Parts Used: Dried flowers as insect repellent  to deter flies and mosquitoes. Cultivation: Easy to grow. Any well-drained  soil limed soil and full sun.  Regards, Linda


The Camicide I ordered arrived this morning, and I am going to have to send it back. For a “bird safe” insecticide, in the cautions it says to leave the area and have it well ventilated before you return, and that is referring to humans, I presume. Well obviously in that case I can’t use it in my bird room. Maybe I’ll try those fly strips, does anyone know if fruit flies will go to them?, Anne

Fly Strips

I myself have just started with the fly strips. My flys are of the higher IQ  I caught a few of them, but many still evade the fly strip. I may just put  the birds in the house outside and use something stronger. I think I will try  that joy in the dish thing first. Ginger

Moth Traps

I’ve tried them – got a whole bunch of excited moths flying around as  soon as  I opened one, but nobody went inside. Put one in the pantry, checked it several days later, and found one, count ’em ONE, moth stuck inside. Cheryl

Apparently, you only had female moths. 🙂 This trap uses the technology of powerful and natural sex attractants to lure  certain moths to their doom. The moth trap attracts and captures adult flour  moths (Indian meal moth, Mediterranean flour moth, almond moth and raisin  moth) by using the same chemical pheromone that female moths use to attract  male moths for mating! Male moths are drawn by the scent and caught on the  capture pad. Removing male moths prevents mating and egg laying, which in  turn stops the cycle of the pest. Regards, Linda


I would not use those mite protectors if I were you.  First of all, they say they do not work.  The particular type of mites you are referring to (there are many types) are red because they are full of blood (someone else’s).

A number of years ago, I purchased a nestbox on which I found mites, so it did not come into the aviary until it was completely void of the mites, which was accomplished with Sevin dust.  Never seen a mite since.  The reason some Eclectus parents pluck the down feathers from their babies in the nestboxes is because they are trying to rid them of the mites. Here is a post I sent to another list last year about mites and an article I found in an old Bird Talk about them:

” I read in American Cage Bird Magazine, January 1991, page 21, by David Alderton “Red mite is probably the most widespread parasite in birdkeeping  circles.  This is because it can attack a wide variety of birds, and is not confined to a particular group.  Once red mites have gained access to an aviary or bird room, they may escape detection at first, but grow rapidly in numbers.  It is possible to see them with the naked eye, but more convincing signs will be telltale tiny dark spots, around joints in a breeding cage for example.   …….

Covering the cage at night with a white cloth may reveal the mites on the following morning as tiny red spots.  Use a magnifying glass if you are in doubt. It is almost certain that these mites can be spread from aviary to aviary by birds themselves.  You can eliminate this risk by treating all new acquisitions and possibly birds returning from shows as well, with a suitable, safe aerosol spray.

Special pyrethum-based powders are also available for dusting nestbboxes or cages, as well as birds.  Longer term treatments, which can be either brushed or sprayed within the bird room to banish mites for a full breeding season, are especially useful.”

Another article, Bird Talk, August, 1991, page 113, by Karen Wasserstrom, tells the story of one woman’s problem with feather plucking birds whose vets, after doing a myriad of tests and using a number of medications,  never did figure out that their problem was that they had red mites.  She, after an allergic reaction and asthma attack, (while noticing her bird pulling out feathers with an emergence), and which occurred repeatedly night after night,  and a bug specialist figured it out and treated appropriately.

Some quotes from her article:”I began getting tiny, itchy bites on my eyelids and chin, and then they appeared on the backs of my legs and on the undersides of my arms.” “Because of their softer skin, women received bites far more frequently than men.  Red mites come out at night and hop on birds, using them for mobility.  The mites also obtain nutrients from drinking the birds’ blood.  In addition, these mites need blood to reproduce.

After obtaining the blood, a mite falls off its host into a safe, dark place, such as upholstery, carpet, grass or wood to lay its eggs.  Each mite lays approximately 2600 eggs that hatch in about 48 hours.  ….these mites are hardy little devils.  They can survive up to five months without blood!”

I realize the article is quite old but she also states: “We decided on a spray containing a high concentration of a natural pyrethrin, Bishops Thirty-five plus All Purpose Concentrate Crawling Inspect Spray” was our choice.  This spray is specifically used on poultry for mites, lice and other bugs, and contains no petroleums or oils that can prove toxic to birds.  Diluted with water, it works safely around birds.”

I believe these days most bird breeders use Biological, or Camacide, or the powder 5% Sevin Powder. Our small town has decided not to spend the money this year to spray for mosquitoes, so not only is our mosquito population booming, but this is the first time we have seen red mites (though only outside in the garden so far).

My vet also recommends using Ivermectin for birds who may be kept in an area where mites are found, though I know a few breeders who do it twice every year as part of their maintenance program.     Many have tried Ivermectin for feather plucking, with very successful results.  It is also reported that some adults pluck the down feathers from babies in the nestbox due to the presence of mites.  They hide in the dark crevices in the nestbox, come out at night, bite, and become red when they are full of blood.

Treating the nestboxes with 5% Sevin powder for a couple days, then cleaning, drying before replacing for the next clutch, takes care of this problem. Constance”

NOTE:  I did not write the parts of these posts that are in quotes.  The quotes came from an article I found.

“Hi again,  I am just rereading this lengthy article in the 1991 BirdTalk, and it also says “After contacting a specialist at the local university veterinary dept., I discovered the chemical most toxic to red mites is carbaryl.

Gardeners use carbaryl packaged under the name Sevin powder on tomato plants to rid them of mites.  The vet suggested using this in our living space and possibly dusting the birds, being sure to bathe and remove all the powder from the birds after a few minutes.  I put my birds on a white sheet and dusted them with the sevin powder from a plastic bottle with a pointed top (the type used to apply hair solutions).  within seconds, numerous red mites dropped off the birds! I made sure to squirt the powder under the feathers, where the mites hide.”

… “After repeated spraying, dusting, bathing, and bombing sessions, I consider myself a specialist on red mites.  Even today I will get an occasional bite or two on the eyelids after hugging Fred, and I immediately reach for the spray or powder.  Now I spray or powder the birds, wait 5 to10 minutes, and then bathe them to remove all the spray or powder and any dead mites.  I’m sure I will continue to encounter newly hatched generations now and then, but I will not give up.”

……Sorry, I’m not the best typist.  This whole article is very long, but very interesting.  If you don’t have this issue, I think you can order it from BirdTalk. Constance”


You may think I am crazy – but get your friends and neighbors to use have a  heart trap and live trap shrews – little mole like creatures – they also burrow – but not deep or large enough to do extensive damage – one shrew will eat an 4 rat babies – momma rat goes out for food – these guys  tunnel into the nest and devour the babies – use to be able to purchase  shrews from catalog but not sure now – I got two shrews and it reduced our  rats extensively – we have mound rats (which are very smart and rather fun to  watch if they aren’t destroying the foundation to the garage) –

<<What do they look like? I have little fat black things without tails that I find in my garage sometimes. What do you do with them? Just put them by the rat holes? >>

that sounds like them – little black or grey if fat they are eating well  already – yes, just put near rat problem they will find or make holes and smell the  nests – the other thing is to provide environment for shrews to breed – I  know you don’t want other stuff over running your area but shrews are easy to  get rid of once the rats are in balance – if you can plant *put underground*  a few mason jars with the lids on and a hole in the lid about the size of a  quarter – put bird seed or pellets or whatever you have around inside (just a  little for a smell) – the shrews will use that as a breeding room – if you  have basement windows like underground (not sure where you are) put the jar  near there so you can see what’s going on – its rather interesting – also if  you are finding them in your garage see what they are doing there – might  have a safe hole already to breed in – their babies get eaten by snakes and  birds – the other thing that would help is a few good size “cow or rat” snakes – you can get them in pet shops but get expensive – – and are harmless to us -but watch your birds snakes eat birds too.