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Would you rather use odourless insecticides which mask the awful smell that is characteristic of harmful chemicals, or would you go for insecticides whose effect lessen as its smell fades? Most people would go for odourless, but the correct answer is none. One thing is certain, both categories of insecticides are toxic. The subtlety that belies the choice for use of odourless insecticides is that the exposed user is oblivious to the fact that the chemicals, though they cannot be detected via the sense of smell, are not only very active against the insects but are also potentially harmful to humans as long as they can be inhaled. On the other hand, non-odourless insecticides though not friendly to the nose, have a way of letting one know of its concentration in the air. Once the smell fades, it indicates that the concentration of the contents is low, which I consider safer, as there is no way to know this with the use of odourless insecticides. Although users are advised to keep away from sprayed rooms for a period of 30 minutes to one hour, a double check is not too much a sacrifice for one’s health. Although the insecticides with smell might be considered safer than the other, both pose demerits to one’s health and measures ought to be taken to eliminate them to the barest minimum.

Here are 5 ways to combat insect pests other than using indoor insecticides:

  1. Windows and doors properly fitted with nets are effective against mosquitoes. However, the safety of using nets are reduced if they get torn or are big enough to let mosquitoes through.
  2. Mosquitoes breed in the surroundings too. To stop them from coming in, allow them no breeding space by cutting grasses, keeping a neat environment, not leaving water in open outdoor containers (this makes them multiply in large numbers), or by doing an outdoor fumigation instead.
  3. Cockroaches are attracted by leftovers which explain why they are found more in the kitchen than in other parts of the home. Wash up plates, take away trash, store remaining dishes in the refrigerator and clean up sinks, counters, and cupboards that have food residue on them.
  4. Cockroaches also love darkness so even when it is spick and span indoors, they still somehow tend to persist- at night. Because they find a way of getting through cracks easily, they bore through holes and sewers to find their way indoors after lights-out. It is best to fumigate the compound to decrease or eliminate their numbers outdoors.
  5. Ants love food, not just sugar. Because they are too small in size and too large in number, getting rid of them is even more challenging. One way of reducing their movement and population is by cleaning up so as to leave no trace of food residue. Another way of solving this problem is by repainting the affected areas- rooms and furniture. In fact, spraying insecticides on an area heavily infested with ants does very little in handling the problem- the ants always find their way back if the root problem is not addressed.
Of course, once in a while, we just might have to use insecticides, like when there is a heavy infestation that requires chemical intervention. But like with every other chemical product, too much exposure can cause great harm to our health.

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This article was first published on 5th June 2017


Nnenna is an editor and writer at Connect Nigeria. She loves fine art, books and places.

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