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Aimee O'Donnell Saunders

In the Kingston Market Place, in the autumn of 1999, Aimee O’Donnell Saunders became hooked on the idea of LUSH, on cosmetics made FRESH, out of beautiful, active ingredients. The products have been a part of her life (and bathroom) ever since. As luck would have it, Aimee got a temporary job at the Powell Street shop in San Francisco in November 2004. Another toss of the LUSH dice found her keeping that job well beyond the holidays as she’s still around! Aimee’s enjoyed the opportunity to be a Product Trainer for North America for over 7 years, travel extensively, and work with LUSH folk in a plethora of projects. She is known for ever-changing hairstyles, favoring bold patterns and bright colors, and rowdy cheering at baseball games. You can find her in San Francisco most days - just follow the scent of Furze perfume.

Aug 08.7

Live and Let Live: Non-Toxic Pest Control

Posted In: Green >> LUSH Life

When we lay out our welcome mats, sometimes unanticipated guests take up the invitation.  Ants, flies and all kinds of uninvited parties can turn domestic bliss into chaos if they get out of control. It’s not the creatures’ fault. Often they're looking for necessities like food, water and shelter, and they’ll take it where it comes.

Luckily, there are many clever ways to discourage honeymooning in your fruit bowl, highway systems in your cupboards, and even mayhem outdoors. Before trying other harsher methods, here are some non-toxic ways to gently increase the odds in your favor, while letting the creatures do their thing in the other direction.  None of these harm the critters, but rely on tactics that will deter them.

Here are some easy tips to make your home or office less accommodating to pests: 

Cabinet Crawlers

Mooching off tiny morsels often unseen, ants and cockroaches and other cabinet crawlers work with impressive efficiency. Especially if that work has led them into your kitchen! Tiny cracks in the backs of cabinets and other miniscule entry points are all they need to get in and hunt for water and food.  Obviously, the tidier the space is, the less likely they are to come explore. If you do see them, try to identify where they are coming and going, and un-invite them using ingredients they detest around these entry points. While sealing up the access is the key to success, a few natural ingredients in the area will also deter their scouting activity:

·      -     Herbs: Peppermint is particularly pungent to ants, roaches and even mice! Apply a few drops of peppermint essential oils to a cotton ball, and leave in a bowl around areas you see activity or suspect is an entry point. You can leave a bundle of the fresh herbs as well, which will also emit its pest-repelling essence. Ants are also quite sensitive to both rosemary and mint, so planting them around a porch and the house foundations can deter them from colonizing in those areas. 

·      -     Cucumber: The smell drives both roaches and ants crazy, apparently. Leave peels or slices in bowls around the likely spots they are coming and going, and change regularly so the scent stays fresh and strong.

·      -     Garlic: Leave a few freshly peeled cloves out in a small dish, or sprinkle garlic powder around entry points, or under sinks where they often look for water. Powder makes a physical barrier ants don’t like to cross, so garlic powder is a double-whammy.

·      -     Spices: Similar to the way mint and garlic overpower ants, spicy powders that work especially well are cinnamon, chili and cumin, but you can use whatever is handy. If you have curious pets and kids, consider using a container made from an empty LUSH black pot. With a few holes drilled in the top, it releases the aroma but powder stays protected from curious hands and paws. (I keep mine by a known Ant Highway at my front door, along with potted rosemary plants, and have seen significantly less traffic there lately.) 


      Fruit-loving Flies

Fruit flies on the rise? Keeping a tidy kitchen is really the best defense! Identify what’s attracting them, and get all of your fresh produce in check, in the fridge or stashed in a bag and enjoy it quickly! In addition to these, keep flies at bay with a few non-toxic solutions:

·      -    If you do keep fruit in an open bowl, set it in front of a fan (if you use one to cool your home), or by an open window with an active draft. Flies have a hard time negotiating a breeze so won’t be able to easily land and linger. 

·      -    Mints are repellant to fruit flies, as they respond a lot like the cupboard crawlers and fly the other way. Keep cuttings of mint around your kitchen, of which you can use fresh leaves in recipes as well as plant once the root systems develop.  

·      -    If you have an infestation, make a trap by filling a vase or glass with apple cider vinegar, creating a stopper out of a rolled up paper towel. The flies want to investigate the sticky-sweet vinegar, but once they crawl or fly down the tunnel, usually can’t find their way out. Set your trap by an offending area, and every hour or so you can release any flies caught outside. They can go do their thing, and you can reclaim your fruit bowl. 


      What's The Buzz In The Backyard?

Inside the house is one thing, but when we’re outside, there can be a whole new set of obstacles. Don’t let uninvited guests crash your cook-out, or worse, prevent you from enjoying one to begin with. A few things to try if your backyard or patio is swarmed by winged pests:

·      -     Mosquitos are a nuisance, but are bothered by the pungent smells of garlic, sage, rosemary. If your menu doesn’t include a lot of those, there’s always citronella, popular in candles but also available to grow as a patio plant, constantly putting off the bloodsuckers. If you have a lot of 'skeeters to chase, consider installing a bat box. Bats can eat hundreds of mosquitos each night! 

·      -    If a beehive has taken you by surprise somewhere you are concerned with, (like around where kids and animals play), consider contacting a local urban beekeeping group in your area who may be able to relocate the hive or consult about your options that will preserve the bees elsewhere.

·      -    Or, try another tactic - this one intended for repelling wasps. Hanging up a faux wasp nest is like a “No Vacancy” sign to the natural kingdom. It operates under the principle that wasps won’t build a nest somewhere another nest has been established. 

·      -    Sometimes plants can repel certain insects or draw others than will help you problem-solve, like ladybugs feasting on aphids. Check in with a gardening center to see what plants may help drive away a particular pest, but work best for your garden type and local area. 

Our suggestions are just starting points but employ one main belief: live and let live. Just like humans, all creatures have their preferences and put-offs. Outsmarting them without hurting them is our preferred method of dealing with any pesky nuisance. Do you have success trying one of these methods, or have other ideas? We’d love to hear suggestions for your favorite non-toxic pest repellants in the comments.