Robert J. Kobet, LEED Faculty (ret)
As I stated in my blog Tiny Homes and Pests – Part I, much has been written about the diverse demographic of tiny home dwellers, within which a respect for the environment and the desire to live gently on the earth is common. Tiny houses are subject to the same challenges as more conventional housing types when it comes to common pest infestations. Consider this:
- Animal, insect and plant species pests can be prolific anywhere a tiny home is located. They may vary from the city to countryside, but they are basically everywhere.
- Locating a tiny house on site with the wheels and undercarriages intact, raised off the ground, can provide a very desirable place for critters to congregate, and they do, especially in rural areas.
- Most tiny homes are some type of wood frame construction. They provide a variety of potential nesting sites and food sources for a number of common household pests.
Again, in all cases, prevention is the best policy. Be careful with fruit, sweets, and anything organic that is out in the open. Use sealed food containers judiciously, and practice “pest proof” composting in covered containers indoors. If your tiny house has a composting toilet, refer to The Humanure Handbook, by my colleague Joe Jenkins (http://bit.ly/2o1bjJY). It has great tips on how to maintain a pest free composting toilet and compost pile.
Bob Vila, the host of This Old House and all around handy man has some great tips on how to pest proof your home naturally (http://bit.ly/2p9GXs9). Happily, they apply to tiny houses.
- Combat mosquitoes with catnip. According to Science Daily, catnip repels mosquitoes more effectively than DEET. You can grow it in your garden to repel them outside. For personal protection apply undiluted catnip oil to the skin for up to two hours of protection. You may find your cat is particularly happy with this idea.
- Repel fleas with salt. Alternately salting and vacuuming your floors will kill flea eggs. This is a safe, pet friendly way to deal with flea infestations. But since fleas have a three-day reproduction cycle you have to be diligent and persistent. Salt every day for nine days and vacuum every third day. Empty the vacuum outside after each use to keep them from re-establishing themselves.
- Diminish dust mites with cinnamon oil. Dust mites usually inhabit carpets and bedding, but they can be anywhere. The protein in the fecal matter of dust mites can be a powerful allergen, especially with children. Cinnamon bark oil has shown to control dust mites. Mix several drops into a 50/50 solution of water and denatured alcohol and spray anywhere dust tends to collect. The added benefit is that your house will have a wonderful cinnamon aroma.
- Eliminate fruit flies with a meal they can’t refuse. Trap fruit flies by filling a glass three-quarter of the way full with vinegar or cider vinegar. Then add six to eight drops of dishwashing liquid and fill to the top with warm water. Always toss any accumulated fruit flies outside to be sure any who survive the meal do not recuperate inside the house.
- Deter deer with Irish Spring. Deer may be picky about some things, but they enjoy enough of a culinary variety to devastate most gardens, flowers and shrubs. Deter them by hanging a few chucks of Irish Spring on stakes near what you are trying to protect. You may also try sprinkling shavings on the ground. The soap will dissolve when wetted a few times, so you may have to replace it.
In addition to these suggestions by Bob Vila, there are a number of non-toxic home pest control strategies available on the web. Use key words such as “non-toxic pest control”, “green housekeeping” or “chemical free pesticides” to begin your search. I’m sure you will find what you need.
84 Lumber and GreenEdge Supply share your interest in tiny homes. We offer a selection of basic designs and have in house expertise to provide all aspects of planning, construction and maintenance. Visit us online at www.84tinyliving.com or www.greenedgesupply.com or stop into one of our retail stores and ask our staff about how tiny houses can work for you.