By Margaret Meier Jones, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley
Spring this year has been slow in coming, but thankfully it’s here and we are quickly moving into summer! As temperatures rise and flowers begin to bloom, so do the number of bugs. Some, like the honey bee, are vital to our survival as they pollinate flowers while collecting pollen and nectar to produce honey. Others, like mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks often spread diseases as they go through their life cycles. So what options do we have for alternative products that are safe and effective to apply to on our pets and reduce their risks from these pesky pests? Here are a few go-to products and a recipe for dealing with wasps and yellow-jackets without hurting the honey bee!
Vetri Repel Spray, by VetriScience, is a repellent with natural oils to protect your pets. This spray is safe enough to be applied daily, if needed, to cats and dogs of all ages. Or, if you prefer a wipe, try their Flea and Tick Repellent Wipes. Looking for something for your horses? Feeding garlic daily can really help and many horses will readily eat garlic cloves with their daily grain. Unfortunately, garlic is toxic to cats and dogs, so beware of garlic products marketed to them. These products are all designed to prevent the bugs from getting ON your furry friends.
But what happens if the bugs are already there? That’s when you reach for diatomaceous earth! Diatomaceous earth is composed of fractured fossilized diatoms, microscopic sea-shell algae with glass-like external cell walls made from hydrated silica. The sharp edges of these fractured diatoms damage the exoskeleton of parasites, such as fleas and ticks, when they come into contact with the diatomaceous earth. The parasites die as a result of desiccation or dehydration. Buck Mountain Botanicals’ Parasite Dust utilizes food grade diatomaceous earth as it’s base ingredient, which is essential becasue non-food grade products may contain toxic chemicals. Apply the diatomaceous earth as a light dusting to your pet’s coat. Be sure to cover their entire body, being careful around the face as to prevent the product from getting into the eyes. Diatomaceous earth should be applied after every bath, rain shower, or swim as it is easily removed from your pet’s coat by water.
And the recipe for getting rid of those pesky wasps and hornets without hurting honey bees? Simply take a narrow neck bottle, like that empty wine bottle from last night, and put the peel from one banana into it. Add 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup sugar, mixing to dissolve the sugar. If necessary, add small amounts of water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set this mixture out anywhere wasps and hornets are found. They will fly into the bottle and never fly out again. If you have more than one inch of dead insects in the solution, strain the liquid and replace it back inside your bottle along with the banana peel. You’ll be amazed at its effectiveness, and the honey bees (and flowers!) will thank you.