Can You Use Essential Oils for Pest Control?
From glue traps that stick to your fingers to stinky chemical-based bug sprays, sometimes traditional anti-pest methods just don't cut it. While it's never a picnic to share your space with pesky critters, you can make the experience a little sweeter by using essential oils for pest control. Eucalyptus, lemongrass and peppermint oils are just a handful of essential oils that repel common pests such as ants, spiders and roaches.
In addition to working as a natural pest control alternative, essential oils also keep your home smelling fresh. The first step in using essential oils for pest control is to understand which oils work best with specific pests. You'll also want to educate yourself about any potential dangers of using certain types of essential oils.
Some common essential oils for insect control include peppermint, spearmint, tea tree, lavender and lemongrass. Citronella oil is another popular essential oil used in outdoor candles to keep mosquitoes and other flying bugs at bay.
Most essential oils require dilution with a carrier oil or water for safer use and to soften the scents. Once diluted, you can apply the oils directly to surfaces such as countertops and cabinets with a spray bottle or a damp cloth. Essential oils work to mask ant food scent trails, repel mosquitoes and eliminate cockroaches. Here's a rundown of essential oils and the specific pests they repel.
When mixed with water and vinegar, tea tree oil is toxic to cockroaches. Using a spray bottle, apply the mixture to roach pathways, countertops, windowsills and suspected entry points.
Ants are naturally repelled by peppermint and spearmint odors. These oils can also mask their food scent trails, leaving the ants to look for food elsewhere. Apply diluted peppermint or spearmint oil to surfaces such as countertops, cabinets and food scent trails to keep ants away.
Flies don't like the scent of eucalyptus, which makes eucalyptus oil the perfect repellent. Spray diluted oil in high fly traffic areas and they should stay away.
Citronella is naturally found in lemongrass oil, and mosquitoes can't stand the smell. Burning citronella candles outside can help keep mosquitoes away when you're enjoying your backyard, and you can also apply diluted lemongrass oil to outdoor furniture for a bit of extra protection.
Spiders dislike the scent of lavender, and the oil contains linalool, a natural substance that's often used in commercial insect repellents. Applying diluted lavender oil to high spider traffic areas and suspected nesting spots will repel the spiders without harming them.
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While some essential oils are considered safe for humans and pets, there are others that may cause harm. Peppermint and tea tree oils are toxic to cats, and topical application of citrus oils such as grapefruit and lime may cause skin irritations and photosensitivity. To ensure the essential oils you plan to use are safe, make sure to read the warning labels and check with your physician and/or vet before starting your new pest control regimen.
In some cases, essential oils may not be effective in eliminating large infestations, especially if you're dealing with fast-multiplying critters such as roaches or ants. If you've tried the essential oil route and your insect problem worsens or if you're starting off with a large infestation, it's best to contact a professional pest control company before you proceed.
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