I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly

The following article was written for the LVBHS newsletter Jan/Feb 2015 issue.

Spiders, flies, ants and bees; “Yuck! And Eww gross!” is what we usually say when we see them. With spiders it’s sometimes a scream or a stomp of the foot that we meet them with. Unpopular as spiders, ants, flies and bees may be they are an integral part of our world’s ecosystem.

Spiders are the best defense against flies. If you are afraid of spider webs then this strategy won’t work for you. At my house we have a dog so you know the result; poop. With poop there are flies and with flies, an unsanitary condition results when they land on our picnic. Spiders will catch the majority of flies if we let them weave their webs. Fall is here and that is when spiders try to come into dwellings. I don’t like any insects in my home so I have found some natural remedies; peppermint oil in water sprayed around the doors will deter spiders, will smell nice and not be a danger to pets or toddlers.

Ants of course are a food source for lizards and beneficial insects. They will always find a way inside a house. I have an aunt whom tolerates ants. She just wipes them away with a paper towel. They come right back of course but she just tolerates them and keeps all food in air tight containers. Try this repellant: cinnamon essential oil, cassia essential oil, clove essential oil, distilled water, Castile liquid soap (to emulsify the essential oils and water).

Flies are part of the ecosystem. Beneficials need them as a food source. Most flies will collect at the windows. I just close the window and trap them and they eventually die. Then I clean them out. Lavender, citronella and eucalyptus essential oils are naturally repellant to flies. Keeping pet feces picked up and tied up tight in a plastic bag will decrease attractants for flies and keep down the population.

Honey bees and native bees; we need them and they are very sensitive to airborne sprays. Leave them alone and they won’t bother you. I often move through my garden brushing against roses and plants which contain hundreds of bees busy collecting nectar and pollen. I have never been stung. Mostly, when people get stung it’s not actually a bee but a yellow jacket which mimics a bee’s colors. Yellow jackets will live in the ground and when a mower is used they come out and sting. Yellowjackets are also attracted to picnic food and trash cans with spilled soda and sweet foods and hotdogs or hamburgers. Yellowjackets and paper wasps have a more painful sting than bees.

Wasps also live underneath house eaves in little mud colonies and will sting if you walk too nearby and upset them. Native bees are not aggressive and neither are most honey bees if one stays away from their hives. However, if a person panics and slaps the bee that lands on them they may get stung. Bees can smell minerals that are in sweat. Minerals are essential to their survival and it’s a common thing for a bee to land on a human to lick their sweat. If one is stung by a honeybee its best to leave the area to avoid more stings. The honeybees’ sting has a pheromone which encourages more bees to sting.

So allow the bees to lick your sweat without swatting, the spider webs to control the flies and tolerate the ants. My Aunt Vivian does.

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