Why do we believe old wives tales and home remedies?

Why do we believe old wives tales and home remedies?

#whatbugsme Maryville Pest Control


I have had hundreds of customers tell me that they applied a natural treatment that a friend or family member told them about and they believe it works. For now let’s ignore the fact that if that were true I wouldn’t be standing in front of them to have this conversation. These home remedies are part of our collective library of what is believed to be true. Why is that? Science has proved over and over again that almost all home remedies do not work. My 16 years of field experience has seen zero percent of these work for the purpose of eliminating pests. With these facts in front of us, why do we still perpetuate and believe these? When you have a problem with bugs you will try everything anyone tells you that supposedly worked for them. Maybe you are short on the budget or do not want what you believe are dangerous chemicals in your home. It is grasping at straws. But why did your friend tell you it worked for them? Truth is it didn’t.

           There are several reasons why these remedies are believed to work.

#1 The user doesn’t want to admit they wasted their money on snake oil

          We do not want to admit we made bad decisions and have a need to prove we did not get duped by false advertising.  Always needing to have the appearance that we have this life game figured out leads us to embellish  the efficacy and satisfaction with products we purchase.

#2 The user wants to be helpful by suggesting a cheaper or safer option to friends and family

           I get this one. Society is moving more towards buzz words and concepts like “green, natural and organic.” We are a nation scared to death of things that our parents used and did with no negative consequences. America is being conditioned to fear anything created or synthetic. The truth is that some of the natural pesticides are much more dangerous or chemically exactly the same as the synthetic versions. People are crying for natural or organic products but the concerns are worthless. These synthetic products are made from materials in our environment. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, so how they are put together doesn’t matter if they are molecularly identical. What is the point? A product labeled natural or organic is just a means to charge more for that product. On top of that, almost all of these type of products have little to no effect on your original problem. Let’s go one step further, many of the natural products have a very strong odor and more potential for irritation and allergic qualities. These products also have horribly deficient residuals. This means they are effective for less time, causing the need to re-apply more often and exposing the environment to the potential irritants more often. No thank you. I’ll stick with what works.The main problem is what people think “green” or “Natural” pesticide really means. It is much more political than anything else. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Your pest Control Professional  knows how to keep you safe. Recently I have seen some promising developments in the area of natural pesticides and I hope they continue to improve. Safety is always a concern.

#3 Using home remedies while having a professional treat the home

           This is the most irritating one on the list. Customers tell me all the time that what they did to treat the bugs is what did the trick. They ignore the fact that I have been treating the home. Even some of the smartest customers I know fail to see the fallacy here. I guess I just don’t get the credit for it this time.

#4 “Don’t you dare tell me my mamma was wrong! She told me …..blah blah blah”

           Leave my mamma out of this! She was an amazing woman. While I will not dispute your claim of motherly sainthood, your love and admiration has clouded your judgment. Don’t forget that your mamma was human and flawed, just like the rest of us. Her mamma told her the same pack of lies she told you and her awesomeness doesn’t make her all knowing. Sorry. There is an old story about a young girl who was learning how to cook from her mother. She observed her cutting the end off the ham before placing it in the pan that could have easily fit the entire ham. She asked her mother why she did that. The response was “That’s what my mother taught me to do”. Realizing she didn’t know the answer, the mother called her mother who told her the same thing. “That’s what my mamma always did.” So guess who they called next with their quandry. Great grandmas answer was that her pan was too short to fit the whole ham. Examine why you do things and believe things and your life will be much better.

#5 I can’t afford to have it done properly so I’m relying on snake oil

           This can be a sad one. I sympathize with a tight budget but sometimes sucking up the cost can save thousands later. When I go to a home to inspect and quote for pest service I often hear “when can you start, that’s less than what I was spending on the stuff that didn’t work.” If you can’t afford a service, often times it is better to clean and save your money than to spend it on wasted treatments until you can afford it. We have a Budget Service that can help as low as $85 a year!. Just call for details.

#6 And finally… luck and ignorance of pest biology

           Pests come and go more than you want to know. Seriously, it would give you nightmares. Most of these you never see but when you do see the prodigal ant lost and trying to get home the response is often overkill or unnecessary. The presence of a bug does not necessarily indicate an infestation. I am told all the time that something got rid of a pest that doesn’t even remotely make sense. There was not a problem to begin with but the believer assumes the only answer is what they did. Most insects in our world never bug us at all, but they do sometimes get lost in our homes. These do not warrant any action more than sealing a hole.  I am told all the time how someone put out mothballs because they saw a snake and they think the mothballs did the trick. I always ask them when the last time they saw a snake was. Often the answer is years ago or never. So what makes you think that the one you just saw indicated anything other than the 1 snake you see once in a blue moon?

           We believe the things we are told because we want to think that everyone is good. Unfortunately, often we just regurgitate things we have been told without researching or even considering how silly they are.

Below I will list some of the dumbest remedies I have been told of.

Dryer sheets between the mattresses for bedbugs

Dryer sheets in you pocket to repel mosquitoes


Cinnamon, mint, and flour for ants

Penny in a bag of water for flies

glue traps for anything

DE (diatomaceous earth)

Borax powder for roaches…. ITS SOAP PEOPLE! Cummon!

Vinegar for gnats & fruit flies

Rubbing alcohol for bedbugs

Foggers and bug bombs

           I know! I know! You are screaming at your computer screen. “That works! I did it and it worked!” If this is you, please see above and choose a number. Look deep inside, reaaaaalllly deep inside and ask yourself… what really happened.

Phoenix Pest Control serves Knox and Blount counties in East Tennessee

Knoxville pest control, Maryville pest control, phoenix pest control TNCall today for your FREE Diagnostic Inspection

(865) 455-8571 Blount


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Aaron Veal


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