Every home-dweller has to eventually contend with pests such as insects, raccoons, and rodents. But don't fret: There are time-proven ways to deter and eradicate these little beasts. We've collected some here:

Insects

  • Keep ants away from your home with a concoction of borax and sugar. Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar's lid, and sprinkle the mixture outdoors around the foundation of your home and around the baseboards inside your house. The ants are attracted by the sugar and poisoned by the borax.
  • If you have cockroaches, sprinkle borax powder in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Avoid sprinkling where children and pets could be affected.
  • If there's a hornet, wasp, bee or other flying insect in your house and you have no insect spray, kill it with hair spray.
  • If your home becomes infested with fleas, vacuum rugs thoroughly before spraying, and throw the dust bag out at once.
  • Change the water in a birdbath every 3 days to help reduce the mosquito population.
  • The presence of carpenter ants indicates another problem. Because they're fond of damp wood, you should check your pipes, roof and windowsills for water leaks.
  • Centipedes prey on other bugs, so the presence of centipedes in your house may indicate the presence of other insects as well.
  • You can distinguish termite damage from other insect damage by examining any holes you find in wood. Termites usually eat only the soft part of wood, leaving the annual rings intact.
  • If you live in a multiunit building, any pest control measures you take individually will be ineffective in the long run simply because insects can travel form one apartment to another. To eliminate bugs completely, the entire building should be treated at one time.

Raccoons and Rodents

  • Raw bacon or peanut butter makes good bait for a mousetrap. Make sure a mouse will have to tug the trap to remove the bait. If you're using peanut butter, dab some on the triggering device and let it harden before setting the trap. If bacon is your bait, tie it around the triggering device.
  • If a raccoon sets up housekeeping in your attic or chimney, chemical repellants -- such as oil of mustard -- are temporarily effective. (The smell may bother you as much as it does the raccoon.) Your best bet is to let the animal leave, and then cover its entrance hole with wire mesh so that it cannot return.
  • To keep rodents out of your house, seal every opening they could squeeze through. Some need less than 1/4 inch of space. Put poison in deep cracks or holes, and stuff them with steel wool or scouring pads pushed in with a screwdriver. Close the spaces with spackling compound mixed with steel wool fragments.