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One of the most common uses of essential oils is in repelling insects and household pests.
Diffusing pest-repellent oils, using them on candles or even spraying them about the home are all great ways to protect your household from pests, and you can take that protection to the next level by understanding exactly which oils are best for different kinds of infestations.
Whilst many essential oils have pest-repellent properties due to their potent natural scents, some are particularly powerful.
From mosquitos and ticks to ants and rats, here are some of our favourite repellent essential oils and the pests they keep at bay.
Amyris has a fresh, woody scent historically used to repel mosquitos. A purifying oil, it is able to keep these disease-carrying insects at bay and protect our health in the process.
Research in 2010 also showed the oil to be repellent to two different species of ticks.
Research has shown that basil oil can deter a wide number of pests from the home, as well as preventing bug bites from appearing on the skin.
It is suggested that these effects are due to the volatile oils in basil which act as natural bug repellents.
The Greeks and Romans believed that bay laurel had magical powers which could protect them from plague. What they saw was likely bay laurel protecting them from creatures carrying the illness.
Bay laurel can repel many kinds of bugs and protect us from the diseases they often bring.
The strong, distinctive scent of birch tar can keep your garden free from slugs and snails. A study in 2010 found that birch tar oil could repel slugs and snails from fences and plant pots.
This can protect vegetation and prevent slugs and snails from coming near the house.
Cajeput is often used in its native Australia to repel pests such as mosquitoes. It can help to protect the skin from bites and any resulting illness. Cajeput oil can also soothe the skin around a mosquito bite and relieve symptoms of itching.
Cedarwood is repellent to a number of bugs thanks to its component cedrol. A study in 2014 showed that cedrol is highly repellent to ants, helping to keep them away from food. Cedrol may even be lethal to ticks and moth larvae.
Citronella’s insect-repellent abilities are so impressive that the US Environmental Protection Agency considers it a biopesticide.
This means that it is a non-toxic mods of action against potentially harmful insects. It is particularly repellent to mosquitos.
Clove essential oil is rich in eugenol, a component which is known to have insect repellent properties. It is particularly effective in protecting against mosquitoes, and can protect from mosquito bites for several hours after it is applied topically.
Try using these oils in a diffuser to deter pests from your home.
Eucalyptus essential oil can actually help to keep rats out of the home. A study in 2014 found that spraying areas of a cage with eucalyptus oil was enough to stop rats from consuming food in that area. This suggests the oil may keep them out of kitchens and pantries.
Lavender essential oil has a number of impressive cleaning, hygiene-promoting properties, one of which is its ability to repel moths.
Lavender oil has been found to be highly repellent to moths and is often used in drawers and wardrobes to protect fabric.
Lemongrass essential oil has a high citral and geraniol content. It is particularly high in citral, containing 70-80%.
The sharp, citrussy scent that this gives the oil makes it repellent to a number of insects, including mosquitos.
Lemon verbena’s sherbet scent is known to be repellent to adult mosquitos. A study in 2006 found that as well as repelling adults of the species, lemon verbena was also able to kill mosquitos at the larval stage.
Orange oil is known to be repellent to ants. This makes it a popular oil used in the preservation of food, as ants are a common kitchen pest. Using orange essential oil around food storage areas deters ants from those areas and keeps food safe.
Patchouli has been used for centuries to repel moths and has also been found to be effective at repelling mosquitos, ants and fleas. A study in 2003 found that patchouli was also a highly effective termite repellent.
Peppermint oil is known to be an effective spider repellent and is popular during spider season, when spiders start to come indoors. It is theorised that the monoterpenoids in peppermint oil act as fumigants which deter the spiders.
Vetiver is said to be repellent to mosquito larvae and has also been found to be an effective agent against termite infestations. A study in 2001 showed vetiver to be highly repellent to termites, as well as having the ability to reduce tunnelling activity.
Even when you have identified which essential oils are right for your purposes, it may take some experimenting to find your favourite blend. Not sure where to start? Our Bug Repellent Essential Oil Blend should cover most bases.
Shop it here.