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Gross Out: Natural Pest Protection

I receive lots of questions about how to naturally, without harmful chemicals prevent or eradicate different pests in our bird food production facility as well as in our exotic bird sanctuary. After many years of trying, these are the natural remedies and a few go-to’s that seem to work well for us. I want to share these methods with you!

When a person cares for birds in their home, knowing that birds are very sensitive to chemicals the job becomes paramount to finding natural methods for preventing or eradicating pests of all kinds, from larvae, insects (flying and crawling), to rodents. This job is also very important to any pet food producer due to a number of ingredients that are stored at any given time for the production of food.

Insects of all kinds, but especially ants, weevils (beetles) and pantry moths love, love, love seed, grain, and legumes that have not been sprouted! Once sprouted pests are not as interested in these items. Dried fruit is another favorite. 

Just to get the topic out of the way, I really haven’t found any animal-friendly method of preventing or discouraging mice and rats other than traps or the proverbial “cat on the prowl.”

However, when it comes to larvae and insects, I have found a few methods that really seem to do the job.

In our food production facility, we keep those hanging strips that attract flies, gnats, and moths (especially pantry moths). Take a look at what we use: These traps seem to work well too, but seem to attract more flies than other insects:

Indian Meal Moth and larvae (Plodia interpunctella)

Neem oil seems to work the best for moths of any size or species. Just buy a little Neem Oil, we buy ours here: This stuff really, really stinks, but it works great! The Neem Oil will not instantly kill moths, but they smell it, and something in it makes them forget to eat. They basically starve to death and therefore do not reproduce. I just set a little out in small bowls (use something the oil cannot soak through; it’s impossible to clean up). I use it in our home, our aviary and our production facility.


If you are experiencing a flea and/or tick infestation here are a couple of recipes that may help:


  1. Mix in stainless steel bowl:

1/2 tsp alcohol
1 drop Young Living Cedarwood oil
3 drops Young Living Purification oil
2 drops Young Living Lavender oil
2 drop Young Living Citronella
1 drop Young Living Thyme oil
3 drops Young Living orange oil

  1. Mix in stainless steel bowl:

8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) Solid Coconut Oil
4 drops Lavender
2 drops Lemon
2 drops Purification
1 drop Oregano
1 drop Rosemary
1 drop Peppermint
1 drop Thyme
Liquefy the coconut oil in a bowl over a bowl of warm water.
Add the drops of essential oil and mix very well.
Place in refrigerator to harden.
Use only a small amount on hands and emulsify well into hands and then rub well into animal especially on any wounds.
(It is not recommended to apply this to birds for obvious reasons: feathers)

  1. Mix in stainless steel cooking pot:

1 gallon of distilled or purified water and 4 heaping TBSP of organic catnip. Steep the catnip in the gallon of hot water for 20-30 minutes, cool & strain.
Add 2 ½ TBSP of organic Neem Oil, 2 tsp. of YL Thieves Household Cleaner or YL Unscented Bath Gel Base, 80 drops of Purification, 80 drops of Lemongrass, 40 drops of Idaho Tansy, 40 drops of Palo Santo, 40 drops of Ocotea or Basil, 20 drops Peppermint. Mix together, and put into a spray bottle and use as needed.

  1. And how about those annoying fruit flies? Yeah, how on earth do we deal with those pesky, tiny insects? I use a variety of methods:

Please keep in mind, if you have feather destroying birds any of the above mixtures may trigger feather destruction due to the amount of naturally occurring histamines and/or salicylates in the essential oils and herbs as well as any variety of vinegar.

As added protection, I keep “zappers” hanging in our food production facility. Something like these: and/or

And finally I keep “tennis racket” bug zappers laying all over so that I can “zap” any stray bug that is not eliminated by any of the above methods: I love these and would not be without one even when I go on camping trips and picnics!

All of these methods are the most harmless I know of, and the most effective as far as non-chemical goes.

Please feel free to post your favorite method of preventing or eradicating pests, but only mention those methods that are 100% chemical-free and safe to use around exotic birds and other pets.

Happy, healthy foraging!

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