In the UK, we have a variety of insect pests that occur at different times of the year. In spring, you’ll most commonly see ants, flies, and mosquitos. These pests will come out of their winter hiding places as the weather warms up, and they can become frustrating to get rid of unless you have some tricks up your sleeve.
Flies especially are attracted to flower nectar and rubbish, and they will venture inside searching for them. Ants are also very interested in the contents of your food waste bin, while mosquitos appear during longer evenings and warmer temperatures.
All insects are annoying to have in your home, but it’s important to find zero waste solutions so that you can be free from seasonal pests without increasing your own carbon footprint.
Here, SkipsandBins.com has brought together five key ways that you can get rid of these annoying insects without creating more waste.
If it’s possible for you to do so, it’s easier to prevent the insects from becoming tempted by your kitchen than it is to remove them once they’ve arrived. In order to do this, you should make sure that any ripe fruit is eaten or disposed of before it starts to break down. In order to dispose of the fruit and veg properly, you should place it in a food bin with a closed top to ensure that no flies can crawl in, and make sure that produce is not left out on the kitchen sideboard for too long.
Those who grow their own produce in a garden should ensure that fruit and veg is cleaned, wrapped up, and stored in the fridge rather than being left out to attract insects. If you don’t wash it thoroughly, it can also bring pests from the garden into your home. Any containers that fruit is stored in, such as cans and Tupperware, should be fully sealed.
These prevention measures will help to reduce the number of flies and ants without creating any additional waste. For ants specifically, it helps to keep your food bin on a shelf, on a sideboard, or on a ledge. When placed on the floor, the bin becomes more accessible to ants crawling in.
Homemade fly tape
While it’s tempting to just buy fly tape from the shop, this creates waste as the tape itself cannot be recycled. It also comes packaged using plastic, which creates more waste, so it’s worth considering the potential for making your own version to keep waste and packaging to a minimum.
For the tape’s surface, you can use paper. Or, even better, use up some plastic bags or packaging that would otherwise be thrown away. Cut the material into inch-wide strips, and coat them with a sticky mixture. This mixture can be made out of equal parts honey, sugar, and warm water. Mix them all together until a sticky substance forms, and when it reaches a gloopy consistency, dip your strips into it.
You’ll need to leave your homemade strips to dry for a while, and then you can hang them up to catch flying insects. These strips will be useful for both flies and mosquitos, and it’s worth hanging them in hot spots in your house where you frequently encounter these critters.
Wine vinegar trap
If you have any leftover wine that has gone bad after not being drunk, don’t throw it away as you can actually use this as a trap for insects. In fact, this might be the easiest method, because you simply need to leave the wine bottle open on the kitchen sideboard to catch flies. It can work for ants too, but you’ll probably need to leave the wine nearer the ground, such as in a cupboard.
Place the bottle in the room where you are seeing flies and insects crop up, and they will be attracted to the alcohol and unable to escape back out of the bottle through the neck. If you are having a bottle of wine with dinner, you can simply leave a tiny quantity of wine in the bottom and place it strategically to be found by the insects.
If you don’t have any wine lying around, you can also do this with beer and other beverages, as the critters are simply attracted to alcohol.
Apple cider vinegar trap
You might be surprised to learn that apple cider vinegar is able to work similarly to wine and become a trap for flies. This type of vinegar is quite sweet and can lure insects into a container or bottle, before they fall into the liquid and become trapped.
To make this trap, you’ll simply need to fill a container with apple cider vinegar and then add another ingredient — some washing up liquid. The washing up liquid will begin to break down the surface tension in the vinegar, which means that the pests will fall into the liquid and drown as they sink to the bottom. However, make sure that you don’t add enough washing up liquid for the smell to overpower the smell of the vinegar, which is the scent that will attract ants, flies, and mosquitos.
This is a great zero-waste option for getting rid of insects as you don’t need to use any single-use plastics. All you’ll need is a container (such as a small Tupperware) and some apple cider vinegar.
Of course, you’ll know that rotting fruit attracts many types of insects, but did you know it can be used as a trap too? Common fruits and vegetables that might attract these insects when decaying are tomatoes, grapes, apples, melon, and squash. They will also be interested in bananas, onions, and potatoes as they break down and rot, so your food waste bin is very tempting to these critters.
If you have overripe fruit that is beginning to go bad, place it in the bottom of a glass jar (such as an old jam or pickle jar). You can also add a little bit of vinegar to the fruit in order to make it more effective.
Then, make a cone out of some paper, and place it into the top of the jar. This means that the fruit will attract the pests, and the cone will trap them so that they can’t get out, creating an ideal zero waste trap. Afterwards, you can add the fruit to your compost heap, recycle the paper, and then wash and reuse the jar. Keep in mind that depending on whether you are looking to catch ants, flies, or mosquitos, you’ll need to place the fruit trap near the floor, or higher up on a sideboard.
“Insect pests can be extremely irritating, and they love the warm weather that occurs as the UK eases into spring. So, you might be seeing a lot of them throughout the summer months. But the conventional methods of dealing with these critters, such as fly tape and traps, can create a lot of unnecessary waste..
“To get rids of insects in a more eco-friendly way, you can create your own traps using common materials found in your home. It’s worth nothing that it’s sometimes easier to prevent these insects from taking hold than it is to remove them once they are there. So, as well as keeping a tidy kitchen, be careful to only buy as much fresh produce as you know you’ll need as well as freezing wherever possible, to avoid food waste.
“Lastly, you should regularly clean your bins — both your general rubbish and your food waste bins. Cleaning them with hot water, a cloth, and some washing up liquid can do wonders for keeping insects at bay. You can also use an anti-bacterial spray if you feel the bin needs a more thorough clean. Ants and flies especially will be attracted by the contents of household bins, so it’s worth keeping them well maintained. This, combined with using zero waste traps, should let you reduce the annoyance of fruit flies without adding to your carbon footprint.”
- Scott Hawthorne from SkipsandBins.com