Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Hang Gourd Bird Houses for Purple Martins to Control Flying Insect Populations

by Barbara 15. May 2012 09:22

Question about attracting Purple Martins to my yard to keep insect population under control

Q: "I'm looking for an easy-to-clean bird house for Purple Martins. Our yard attracts a lot of flies and other flying insects because we are next door to a farm. Please explain to me about the Gourd bird houses and which ones would work the best for me. How many would I need? How would I hang them? Thanks. Dave"

Answer: Currently we sell two brands of manufactured gourd bird houses. These are the Bird Adobe SuperGourds and the Purple Martin Gourds by Heath. Both come in light colors, white or almond.

The SuperGourd is a unique "bird house" was invented by James Hill Founder and past Director of the Purple Martin Conservation Association. His research revealed that martins fledge one extra nestling per nesting attempt in gourds compared to aluminum martin houses with 6” x 6” compartments. So he developed the Supergourd,

There are three models of SuperGourd. The main difference is the bird entry hole size. Each SuperGourd is a 10”, one-piece, plastic gourd with a molded-in, threaded access port, covered
by a screw-on cap. The access port is 3 7/8” in diameter, large enough to admit a human hand. The cap has a liner that makes both the cap and access port totally watertight. To do nest checks, twist the cap off. At the end of the season, clean out the old nest. The access port has a high viewing angle so it is easy to see the nest contents. The large molded-in rain canopy doubles as a perching platform. The canopy is placed high enough above the entrance hole to allow the perfect amount of head clearance for hole-perching martins. The SuperGourd weighs about 32 ounces, slightly more than a natural gourd its size. This one piece unit has no seams so there are no leaks possible. There are seven 1/4” drainage to drain any rain that may blow into the gourd. The SuperGourd is blow molded in a white (sun reflecting), opaque, high-density polyethylene plastic, with ultraviolet inhibitors added for long life. These gourds are an attractive alternative for those
landlords too busy to grow, paint, and modify natural gourds. It has all the advantages of a natural gourd without the fuss and muss of making one.

For Purple Martins, the best choices are the Round-holed SuperGourds with 2 1/8 Inch Diameter Entry Hole shown here on a gourd rack system. Or choose the Crescent-holed SuperGourds with 1-3/16 inch entrance hole that are Starling-resistant.

Easy to Hang:  SuperGourds can easily be hung underneath an existing martin house, from a gourd rack, or strung on a line between two poles. One set of 1/4" hanging holes (side-to-side) are predrilled and will accept a hanging wire; a set of front-to-back holes can easily be drilled by the purchaser if so desired.Easy to Hang:  SuperGourds can easily be hung underneath an existing martin house, from a gourd rack, or strung on a line between two poles. One set of 1/4" hanging holes (side-to-side) are predrilled and will accept a hanging wire; a set of front-to-back holes can easily be drilled by the purchaser if so desired.

When hanging SuperGourds underneath a martin house, or along a line, use #10 or #12 gauge, plastic-coated, solid (singlestrand) copper wire. Do not use copper wire that has multiple internal strands — it is not strong enough. In extremely windy areas, the #10 gauge wire is the preferred choice because it is thicker and stronger than #12. You will need about 15 inches of wire per
gourd. Insert the wire through the hanging holes so an equal amount sticks out each side. Bend the wires 90-degrees upward, then wrap each end of the wire snugly around the line, eye hooks,
porch railings, or gourd rack arm you are attaching it to. When properly hung, the gourds should swing (not twist) in the wind and should not be capable of bumping each other or other objects
in a strong wind. The top of the gourd should be about 1” below fluffy wood shavings, or dried pine needles, in each gourd Should these gourds ever reach the end of their useful life span, they can be recycled in your community’s recycling program.

You can hang these gourd birdhouses as close as with 2 foot centers. You just don't want them to bounce against each other when the wind blows.

The Heath Purple Martin Gourds are made in two pieces. One piece is longer than the other: the hanger hole is in that piece. Each gourd is about 9 inches in diameter at its widest and about 12 inches high. There is a half-moon piece of plastic in the entrance hole to discourage starling nests. To clean these, you must take them down and take the two pieces apart. These are Made in USA/

Purple martins begin nesting in June. The manufacturers suggest putting up the gourds any time. This years baby birds will be looking for a nesting place for next year. You can hand these as low as 6 feet off the ground. Add nesting materials to encourage the birds to stay. Supply aids such as nest materials like dried white pine needles, dry twigs or straw neaby. Supply mud for nest building. Visit for more information.

Purple Martins are sociable birds so hanging a minimum of 4 gourds is recommended. You can hang with cable or purchase a pole hanger that holds many gourds. Remember these are flying insect eaters except they don't eat mosquitoes. For that, we suggest a mosquito trap by Koolatron or Mosquito Magnet.

We also sell purple martin and other bird houses.

Thank you for your question. If you need more help, please contact us at




Octenol Lure Increases Mosquito Catches in Mosquito Magnet Traps

by Barbara 14. July 2010 09:54

Question about octenol for Mosquito Magnet Traps.

Q: "Why do I need octenol for my Mosquito Magnet Propane Mosquito Trap?"thanks. Jack

Answer: Octenol increases your catch rate significantly when used with your Mosquito Magnet traps. Octenol is a naturally occurring by-product that comes from plants and some animals. Studies have shown that Octenol, when combined with carbon dioxide produced by Mosquito Magnet traps (not included), is very attractive to many different biting insects .  We recommend Octenol as an alternative to Lurex 3N for customers located in the northern United States. Use in Mosquito Magnet Defender, Mosquito Magnet Liberty, and Mosquito Magnet Liberty Plus.

Octenol - General Facts:

    * What is it? Octenol is an EPA registered secondary attractant that mimics human breath.  It is used in Mosquito Magnet® traps to attract biting insects including mosquitoes and no-see-ums.  Made in the U.S.A.
    * What are the active ingredients:? 1-Octen-3-ol, 55.15%, Other ingredients 44.85%. Each cartridge contains 1660 mg of Octenol.
    * Why should I use it along with the Mosquito Magnet® trap? Mosquito Magnet Octenol vs. CO2:The attractant Octenol increases your catch rates up to 10 times!  Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance; they may transmit diseases that are a serious health threat to people and pets.  It will lure biting insects to the Mosquito Magnet® trap and away from you and your family.
    * What Does It Attract? Octenol attracts most mosquito species, including salt marsh mosquitoes, as well as no-see-ums and black flies.  The insects are attracted by the Octenol and are drawn to the Mosquito Magnet® trap where they are captured, then dehydrate and die.
    * Which Mosquito Lure is Right for my Area? Those who live on the coast or Northern regions of the U.S. should use Octenol to attract mosquitoes, no-see-ums and black flies.There have been recent spottings of the Asian Tiger mosquito in Northern regions.  If you have tried Octenol and are still getting bit, try Lurex 3 ™
    * How Often Should The Cartridge Be Replaced? The Octenol cartridge should be replaced every 21 days. After 21 days of use, the cartridge appears the same; however, it will no longer be effective as the octenol will have been released.The catch rate will be reduced if the attractant is not changed

I hope this answers your question. Remember that Lurex is recommended for Use Lurex with all Mosquito Magnet traps if you live in the Southern USA. Mosquitoes are a nuisance and may also transmit diseases that pose serious health risks to people and pets. Lurex 3N is specifically designed for users who have the Asian Tiger Mosquito. It's most effective in southern USA states. This product simulates human sweat to attract mosquitoes which helps you to increase your catch rates.

What is Lurex3™ Mosquito Attractant? Lurex3™ is a patent-pending mosquito attractant that mimics naturally occurring human skin scents or odors known to attract mosquitoes.  This EPA-registered product is the only attractant developed for the Asian Tiger Mosquito.  It has been designed for use with all Mosquito Magnet® Traps. Made in the U.S.A.

What is in Lurex3? There are two active ingredients In the Lurex component the active ingredients includes lactic acid, 35.40%. In the  Ammonium Bicarbonate component,  Ammonium Bicarbonate  is 74.63%.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

Ultimate Flea Trap Attracts Fleas With Light and Heat, Captures with Glue Disc. No Poisons.

by Barbara 13. October 2009 08:22

Question about the M230 Flea Trap by Woodstream

Q: "I am looking for a way to kill fleas in my dog kennel without using poisons. I also have dogs that winter in my house. Despite topical flea prevention treatments, we seem to get fleas in our house. And do they cause itching! How does the Ultimate Flea Trap work? Is it expensive to operate and maintain?" Thanks. Jack

Answer: This is an inexpensive unit to buy and to maintain. Victor Woodstream corporation's Ultimate Flea Trap attracts fleas and other insects with the light and heat from a 7 watt night light bulb. Once inside, the fleas are caught on a 7 inch diameter glue disc. So killing fleas no longer takes poisons. The trap is circular so the fleas can enter from all directions. Both the bulb and the glue disc are replaceable. There are hints on line that suggest a light and a bowl of water, a potentially deadly combination for fleas and for people as well.

This safe flea killing trap gets rid of fleas without risks or fuss. Capture rate is about 93%. With a one year warranty on everything but the light bulb and flea disc, the Ultimate Flea Trap works best near pet beds, bird cages, garage areas, etc. The disc should be replaced every 2 to 4 weeks no matter how many you've caught. It is ready to use except for inserting the light bulb and the glue disc. * Note: Flea trap population varies from week to week. Leave your trap on 24/7 as a preventative measure. Control fleas from stopping them from reproducing.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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insect control | pest control | pet products | flea control

Add Suet Feeders to Attract More Wild Birds to Your Yard

by Barbara 20. September 2009 12:52

Question about suet cakes, suet feeders and seed feeders.

Q: "I have several seed feeders in my backyard. My neighbor also feeds birds suet. What would adding suet feeders add to my backyard birdwatching? Would the squirrels get into the suet? Thanks'. Paul

Answer: Paul, views have changed about feeding birds suet. Adding suet means adding more of the clinging type birds for your pleasure. Yes, squirrels can get into suet. There are squirrel resistant suet feeders, too.

Now many bird lovers offer suet all year around. Nesting birds need more energy in the spring. Suet provides it.  For insect eating birds in summer, suet can substitute for insects especially in years when insects are in short supply.  Suet helps birds store fat needed for energy to migrate or to prepare for the cold winter weather and to survive winter in colder climates.

Most suet is made from meat fat, Some regard beef fat from kidneys as the best suet. Suet can also be made from vegetable fat. Suet can be flavored, mixed with seeds, peanuts, peanut butter, berries, etc. or just plain. Suet comes in many forms, netted bells to hang directly from trees, blocks, plugs, pellets which birds can carry back to their nests to eat,etc. There are suet feeders available that are made from coated wire to which birds can cling or perch. Most suet loving birds are cling feeders like woodpeckers. If you plan to feed suet, be well-supplied as once birds discover it, it is eaten quickly.

The birds most seen eating suet are chickadees, woodpeckers, warblers, titmice, kinglets, nuthatches, jays, and wrens. Starlings can be a real pest in some areas: you may want to use a starling resistant suet feeder. that is suited primarily for birds that hang upside down to feed. Likewise, pest squirrels can be better kept away by a squirrel resistant suet feeder.

I recommend that if you buy suet on-line, that you buy a minimum of 6 to 12 blocks, bells, etc. Otherwise your shipping costs will void out any savings or convenience as shipping 6 to 10 pounds cost very little more than shipping 2 pounds.

The choices are too numerous for me to add to this blog. I suggest you search for suet and you'll see the choices we offer.

Thanks for your questions and enjoy your backyard birds.

Sincerely, Barbara



How to Use Mosquito Repelling Candles Outdoors or Indoors

by Barbara 28. June 2009 09:13

Question about using Geraniol bucket candles mosquito repelling candles.

Q: "What is the best way to use mosquito repeller candles?" Thanks. Mac

Answer: We recommend that you light geraniol candles at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to your outdoor gathering. Space the candles about 8 feet apart around the perimeter of the area where you plan to entertain. Make sure the Geraniol pillar candles or bucket candle is on a flat, heat resistant surface where it is unlikely to be knocked over. For the best protection, we recommend that you place mosquito traps down wind from your party and keep them running continuously during the mosquito/biting insect season. The best unit is the all propane mosquito trap since you can place it anywhere you choose without an electrical outlet nearby.

Take care when using any burning candle to make sure that it’s on a flat, heat-resistant surface to prevent the candle from tipping over or spilling wax, and never leaving a burning candle unattended.

Among the pleasant smelling geraniol options are:

Remember if you have a pond or other standing water you may need to take more action. Mosquito Dunks are made with natural BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis), Mosquito Dunks represent a major breakthrough for people and the environment compared with the traditional toxic chemical approach to mosquito control. BTI is a live bacteria that's deadly to mosquito larvae, Once a month float a Dunk in the water garden and every place water accumulates around the home. Each Dunk will effectively treat up to 100 square feet off surface water regardless of depth. Dunks may be broken to treat small areas. Mosquito Dunks are an effective biological mosquito larvicid. EPA registered in all 50 states. Unused and dried out Dunks retain their potency indefinitely.

Note: Citronella oil has been determined by the EPA to be a safe substance. When burned indoors, the citronella scent can cause problems in people who are susceptible to health problems from scents.

Thank you for your question. Enjoy your parties.
Sincerely, Barbara

Attract Bluebirds for Natural Insect Control and Beauty

by Barbara 27. June 2009 11:23

Question about the bluebird houses and how to attract bluebirds to my yard.

Q: "My family enjoys bird watching in our backyard. How do we attract bluebirds? We know they are beautiful to watch and we understand they eat a lot of insects, too." thanks. Dave

Answer: Attract and keep bluebirds in your backyard by providing them with houses in which to nest and the foods they love to eat. Bluebirds love insects, especially larva.

Some suggested boxes:

Some suggested bluebird feeders:

  • Song Essentials Bluebird Feeder. Bluebirds soon learn to reach inside this feeder for the meal worms & treats you provide. Designed for easy three step training. 1) Leave the lid open, held by the cable and remove one plexiglas side. 2) Insert plexiglass side. 3) Close the lid so only bluebirds can use the feeder.
  • Protected Bluebird Jail FeederThis feeder is made to discourage larger birds from feasting on meal worms and blue bird food.

Suggested food:

Thank you for your question. Enjoy your bird-watching.
Sincerely, Barbara

Geraniol, A Safe Outdoor Mosquito Repeller Can be Used with Mosquito Traps

by Barbara 20. June 2009 15:27

Question about Using Geraniol as a Mosquito Repellant and with Mosquito Traps.

Q: "We entertain outdoors and want to keep the mosquitos away from our guests. I've been told that geraniol is a safe option to yard sprays or applying Deet to exposed skin. What is it? How do you use it to keep mosquitos away?, etc. I see you sell wristbands, pillar candles and bucket candles. How do you combine these products with a mosquito trap?" Thanks. Sara

Answer: Geraniol is a safe option to Deet and insect sprays. It is a natural essential oil, a “green” product that uses oil extracted from plants such as lemon grass that have a natural ability to protect themselves against feeding insects. There is no known toxicity to the environment. Jerry Butler from the University of Florida, in Gainesville developed this insect repellent after 15 years of tests on more than 3,900 compounds. Geraniol protects people and pets against everything from mosquitoes and ticks to tiny “no-see-ums.” It was tested to be more than 400% more effective than citronella.

Among the pleasant smelling geraniol options are:
  • Geraniol wristbands that use geraniol imbedded in plastic bracelets you can loop around wrist, ankle or bell or place out of reach of a baby on a stroller
  • Geraniol bucket candles. Each weighs just over a pound, is in a silver colored and burns for about 50 hours.
  • Geraniol pillar candles. Each 3 inch by 3 inch pillar candle weighs about 11 ounces and burns for about 36 hours.
Koolatron recommends that you place the candles about 8 feet apart for maximum no-see-um, mosquito, biting fly, etc. protection. To improve the odds you won't get bitten by mosquitos, we also recommend that you place mosquito traps down wind from your party and keep them running continuously during the mosquito/biting insect season. The best unit is the all propane mosquito trap since you can place it anywhere you choose without an electrical outlet nearby. We also sell Koolatron UV 12 volt DC Biting Insect Traps that can be used with AC adapters, are inexpensive and can be placed just beyond the "candle range" to attract biting insects.

Candles may also be burned inside. Do remember the dangers of leaving candles burning unattended.

Thanks for your question. Enjoy a summer with fewer bug bites. For those that get past, try an Itchsoother.

Sincerely, Barbara

Attracting Toads to a Toad House for Natural Garden Insect Control

by Barbara 3. June 2009 10:17

Question about how to use toad houses or toad abodes to attract toads to a garden.

Q: "I am interested in maintaining an organic garden. I understand that toads are one way to keep the insect population controlled. What products do you suggest to attract them?

Answer: Each toad can eat about 10,000 insects in one summer. For "green" gardening, place one or more toad houses in areas of your garden that get lots of water. That keeps the soil cool: toads look for a break from the summer heat and sun! Keep a small dish of water near your Solar Toad Abode, Solar Toadstool Abode or Ceramic Toad House. That daily soak keeps permeable toad skin moist.

If you have hostas, remember that toads eat slugs, too.

Use no pesticides or chemical fertilizers in your garden as they are toxic to toads.

Toad Specific Hints:

  1. Toads can poison. Keep dogs away from toads and do not handle a toad if you have cuts in your skin. Domestic dogs can die within 15 minutes of eating a toad. Toads are a common cause of poisoning in dogs. The toad can poison cats, too but this is not very common. Toads exude a milky white toxin from poison glands behind their eyes. They squeeze this poison onto the surface of their skin when they are under threat. Toads do not spit or squirt the poison as commonly believed, and they don’t bite. Dogs and cats are poisoned when they mouth the toad or sometimes when the toad’s poison gets into their eyes. The toad’s poison is also dangerous to humans and deaths have occurred. Some adults have even been affected when they absorbed the poison through cuts in their skin after handling a toad.
  2. Let a young toad find your toad house: adults have already chosen a home so don't try to relocate them
  3. Lure toads in spring and early summer. Bring the toad house inside in late fall and winter.

Thanks for your question. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!


Attracting Bats to Backyard Bat Houses for Insect Control

by Barbara 17. January 2009 21:00

Question about using bat houses to attract bats to backyards to control insects.

Q: "I am looking for a "green solution" for insect control around my home. We have a wooded lot. How do I attract bats to my yard? Are bats dangerous? Are some bat houses better than others?"Thanks. Lloyd.

Answer: Bats are greatly misunderstood: research shows that one bat can consume more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. Bats eat other flying species of insects such as corn borers and cutworm moths. So, yes, this is a cost-effective organic pest control method you should pursue. You can make your own bat house if you'd like. Buying a kit or pre-constructed kit may be cost effective when you consider the tools, time, etc.

How to Attract Bats:

  • Install bat houses.
  • Have water nearby: a lake, a pond, a bird bath, etc. where insects gather. (How about a backyard koi pond with solar water pump?)
  • Plant night-blooming flowers.

Bat House Instructions:

  • Most bat houses are made by a rough, nontoxic wood (such as plywood or cedar): a rough surface makes it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house.
  • Size of the house: at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep.
  • Mount your bat house is in the fall or winter. This lets the wood of the house to age and odors dissipate.
  • Install facing south, preferably where sunlight reaches the house most of the day.
  • Mount on a pole, tree or under the eaves of a house, garage or barn about 12 to 15 feet above the ground.
  • Be patient: it may take up to a year to attract a colony.

Like any mammal, bats can catch rabies: the risks are low and you are unlikely to handle a bat.

Some suggested bat houses:

  • Heath Bat House BAT-1ADimensions: 11.5 inches by 12.8 inches by 2.5 inches deep. Meets guidelines from Bat Conservation International.
  • Schrodt - Colony Bat House:A triple chambered nursery capable of accomodating dozens of mature bats and their offspring. Etched brass moon and branded bat design. 17 inches tall.
  • Songbird Cedar Large Bat Chalethis large bat house has grooves on the inside front and back so bats can "hang out" in comfort. The Songbird Cedar Bat Chalet has two compartments, room for a colony of bats. Mount 15-20 feet high on pole, structure or tree. Install now for next summer. Dimensions: 18 inches by 4 inches by 13 inches.

There are many other options. Remember that bats do not chase away birds nor do they suck the blood of humans!

Can I use the LED flying insect trap outdoors?

by Barbara 22. June 2008 08:01

Question about the Product: P3 International LED Flying Insect Trap and Bug Trap

Q: "Can this be left outdoors (i.e. is it waterproof)?"

Answer: Yes, the P3 LED Flying Insect Trap can be used outdoors under awnings or patio covers. The unit is water resistant but not waterproof. You can also use the unit indoors.

This unit, like others we sell, uses UV lights to attract flies, yellow jackets, bees or gnats. These are LED lights which should last about 50,000 hours. This unit sits on a table or other flat surface. Once in range, the vacuum fan sucks the bugs inside where they are captured in the removable collection net. Like all bug attraction/kill units, this one works best when it is the only light source.

Another popular unit is the Koolatron 12V UV Light Insect Killer. This is a 12 volt unit handy for camping trips that can be used indoors with an AC adapter. These flying insect traps are silent as are the Koolatron mosquito traps. The older bug "zappers" that electrocute the insects and snap, crackle and pop are rarely sold now.

Please contact us if you have additional questions.

Sincerely, Barbara

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insect control | pest control