Pest Control – Essential Oils and Non-Toxic Methods
Know what bugs me? Bugs! I’m fine with them contributing to the ecosystem of society, just hanging out, doing their thing. But, if you come inside, you are an intruder!
In 2007/2008, we had a fair infestation of sweet ants, thanks in part to the apple tree next to the house and taking garbage in the basement, where the ants sniffed it out. After that, they enjoyed traipsing through the nooks and crannies of the house. Grr! Not cool. My mom had chemical sensitivities, so she had me research (my talent) ways to hold them off or get rid of them.
My diligence turned up essential oils (EOs). This was great because I have access to all sorts of essential oils. So, I found a resource where various bugs and the essential oils were listed that act on the particular bug.
I started out vacuuming the areas I was seeing the ants thoroughly, as they made a fair amount of “dust.” (The bug control guy identified them as your typical “sweet ants.” Always get identification, as carpenter ants are a whole ‘nother set of problems.) Next step was washing the area with AFM Super Clean (environmentally-friendly soap) diluted in water with my essential oils of peppermint and spearmint. I didn’t wash the walls since they are painted and I was iffy about whether the EOs would affect painted surfaces.
I was using technical boric acid to put under the base boards. However, I found “FOOD GRADE” diatomaceous earth (D.E.) is safer to work with. One caveat is that it can irritate respiratory system and eyes when you dust it with a puffer. I put on a dust and particle mask from the home improvement store.
For my insect maintenance, I use a gallon garden sprayer, one scoop of D.E. (it can be diluted in water and sprayed), peppermint, spearmint, lavender, lemongrass (I go easy because I’m sensitive to this one), cedar wood, citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary, and vetiver. Drops in the sprayer vary. I do about 20 of peppermint and spearmint since the mint family are effective in repelling insects. I fill the sprayer with hot water, shake it up, and spray all along the foundation of my house once a month for control. [May 2020 edit: I started using Cinnamon Leaf essential oil in the mix. Repels ants.]
If you have issues with cockroaches (wooded areas, brush piles, etc.), steep a ¼ cup of organic catnip in a quart of boiling water for 10 minutes or up to 20 minutes. Strain, or lift out the tea filter- much easier, and add this solution to your garden sprayer. I notice a reduction in insects, so it does work. …Or you have cheery, mellow, energized bugs with clear sinuses.
Do not spray on rainy days. It washes away the solution. It is best to spray at the time of sun up or sundown, times when the benevolent insects are not as active like in full light. Cats are highly sensitive to essential oils and they can be toxic to them. Keep kitty away from the area for a while (see the catnip solution above).
Some essential oils and what they repel:
Peppermint EO- ants, spiders, beetles, caterpillars, fleas, flies, moths, plant lice
Lavender EO- chiggers, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, moths, ticks
Lemongrass EO- chiggers, fleas, mosquitoes, ticks
Vetiver EO- termites
Rose geranium EO is said to be effective for repelling ticks, but I have not tried it.
My personal anti-bug juice body spritz is a 2 oz. fingertip sprayer filled with witch hazel extract, peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, citronella, rosemary, lavender, sage, lemon eucalyptus, and cedar wood. Always know if you are sensitive to any EO before applying to your body! Ask me how to do patch tests with essential oils; I’m trained in Aromatherapy (it’s not just to chill out!). For extra protection, I use Sage Goddess Shield and Arx perfumes to enhance the protection factor.
I welcome your questions and comments.
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