Spiders Hate Peppermint, Essential Oils As Insecticides And Other Curious Tales…

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How To Use Peppermint Essential Oil To Get Rid Of Spiders



Background images: Mint – © Alex Smith – Fotolia.com #38543399; Spider © Aptyp_koK – Fotolia.com #38139664

I first discovered this gem of an idea from those “dons of the natural way” over at Herbs And Oils World. Their simple article outlines a super-easy process of adding 10 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil to a spray bottle full of water, and then spraying it in the places where spiders lurk / where they enter the home. Brilliant, simple, non-toxic and natural – and anything that does away with the need for nasty chemicals in the home is fine by us! Your house will even smell nicer!

Why Do Bugs Hate Essential Oils?

Part of the reason the post got my attention is because it touches on a far deeper subject with fascinating implications – and I couldn’t resist the chance to put forward some ideas that I have been mulling over for a while.

It turns out that there are a huge number of essential oils that either have a bug repellent or pesticide action. This makes absolute sense if you think about it – because in nature, plants evolved essential oils partly as a defense mechanism against being eaten to the ground by pests.

In the past few years, a whole host of scientific studies have “rediscovered” numerous essential oils that work as insecticides – and people are beginning to use them: Orange oil is now a popular and accepted treatment for termites; Tea tree essential oil has been reported effective against scabies and is sometimes added to laundry to get rid of mites; Neem oil has been found effective against numerous insect species in tests.

Several essential oils are now used effectively against spider mites in the garden: A 2010 study found that Red Thyme, Lemon Eucalyptus, Citronella, Pennyroyal, Caraway Seed and Cloverleaf essential oils were effective against red spider mites that had become resistant to chemical pesticides. Essential oils have been found effective against ticks, against ants and all kinds of other critters. Neem is used year after year against spider mites on crops, prior to flowering – and it still works.

These are just a few examples – there are many, many more.

One of the benefits of using essential oils in this regard is their (general) low toxicity and biodegradability. They are simply “closer to nature” than chemical pesticides! Within a few years these natural substances may well actually be proven to be less harmful to the environment when sprayed.

Where it gets really fascinating is when you notice the “mind-blowing” fact that essential oils still work on bugs after thousands of years, whereas pesticides of the chemical variety lose their effectiveness after a few years or even less – because the insect pest has evolved to be resistant to the chemical. The way this process works – in a nutshell – is that when a chemical pesticide is sprayed a few of the strongest bugs may survive, going on to breed – and by a process of natural selection over the course of a few years, the bug has evolved to the point where the insecticide no longer works. What this means in real terms is that interest in the use of essential oils against bugs is coming to the fore as more and more chemical pesticides lose their effectiveness.



Why is it that essential oils continue to be effective against pests in this way, while pesticides flounder? My theory is that it is in some way because nature seeks equilibrium. This is quite simple to explain. If there are too many bugs, a greater proportion of the plants get eaten. This has a stronger natural selection effect on the plants, leading to a repopulation with plants that are more resistant to pests. Similarly, pests that are more able to deal with the plants natural defenses will survive, and choose to eat the more palatable of the plants. So the plants and the insects to some extent work in “synergy” on a species level – making each other stronger through a “symbiotic”, mutually beneficial, reciprocal process of natural selection.

Another thing I find extremely interesting is the research (again, still a very untapped field) that has demonstrated in certain cases that “broad-spectrum” effects from a whole plant or essential oil extract have greater efficacy than single molecules which were chemically extracted because they were considered the primary active ingredient. Again, this is astonishing if you think about it.

This line of inquiry I consider to be one of the most important in herbalism – and quite central to its validation as a discipline: Drug companies seek single molecules because this gives them potential (I imagine) for a patentable product. However, in more and more instances we seem to be finding that “pure molecule” pharmaceutical drugs have unacceptable side effects in the human system. Perhaps the whole concept of extracting a single molecule and applying it as a remedy is flawed! This is an idea with potentially massive implications – but it too makes some sense to the intuition: We evolved alongside plants for hundreds of thousands of years also. Perhaps at some point it will even be proven that, in the same manner in which the “broad spectrum” essential oils attack bugs, the broad spectrum approach of herbalism is more effective against various sicknesses in the body.

Essential oils, typically, are made up of hundreds of types of molecules, in varying amounts – with a few molecule types making up the majority of the oil, but also with a large number of minor components which often have not been studied in depth. There is huge untapped potential here for research.

This idea of an equilibrium (complex stability) in nature is something completely alien to modern agriculture, which seeks to control and enforce. Nature being what it is, seeks to “bring the balance back”. It is my view that we are not alien to nature but part of it – and that it is only by working with it, rather than against it, that we will be able to reach optimum health.

I’m of the belief that essential oils will ultimately take their place as the best of all insecticides (when they have finally realized that it is not actually possible to do better than nature has already done!) – and at some point “science” will return to a more holistic philosophy in line with the original ideas (attributed to Hippocrates) regarding the Vis Medicatrix Naturae – or healing power of nature.

Anyway – much theorizing and much that is not known for certain. I hope these musings have given food for thought and inspiration! I’m not the first to put forth these ideas, several others have paved the way before: Kurt Schnaubelt (at first glance) appears to have discussed them in much greater depth – although I have not yet read his works.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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29 Comments

  • By Theresa, March 10, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

    Beautifully put! I have been explaining this to whoever would listen for years…it cannot be stressed enough that the whole plant is best always. No side effects because of the other compounds in the plant.

  • By CAROL WATKINS, March 10, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

    where can you buy essential oils

  • By CAROL WATKINS, March 10, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

    can you make it your self just extrac the oils

  • By mary, March 10, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    Do you know if this would work for stink bugs?

  • By Brenda Wilhelm, March 10, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

    always looking for natural ways to get rid of pests instead of chemicals!!! Very interesting!!!

  • By Debra, March 10, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

    White vinger mixed with water in a spray bottle will get rid of ants

  • By Rosemary Mayor, March 11, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    Anbts hate lavender. Just sprinkle the flowers at the back of cupboards and shelves and the ants go away. It is also brilliant for slowing down the groth of Algi in fish ponds. Just tossin a bunch and forget about it.

  • By T. Criss, March 13, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    Are there any essential oils that get rid of fleas and cockroaches?

  • By ELLIE BRAUN-HALEY, July 3, 2013 @ 12:49 am

    I enjoyed this and all the comments!

  • By Jennifer S., August 3, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

    I get a lot of little millers or moths (not sure what they are!) in my cupboards in in my pantry. Is there anything “natural” I can use to eliminate these from occurring and also kill the ones I keep seeing flying around?

  • By admin, August 3, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

    Hi Jennifer, well we are soon going to run a page on this exact subject, in the meantime I would suggest trying similar essential oils as the ones listed here.

  • By DDSC, September 10, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

    A mix of orange and rosemary essential oils will repel fleas. Add both to water in a spray bottle, and mist the area. Indoors, this is most effective when combined with lighted sticky traps – amazingly useful if you’re unfortunate enough to have to deal with a flea invasion. Good luck!

  • By Ella, September 17, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    This is really helpful … thanks

  • By Karen, November 3, 2013 @ 5:35 am

    What about scorpions

  • By Nightwing, November 3, 2013 @ 10:23 am

    That’s really useful to know many thanks, is there a way of keeping fleas from cats, as I hate having to use chemicals which to be honest I don’t know what they are doing or what effect they have on my cat, or if they actually work.best wishes nightwing x

  • By cathern s, November 3, 2013 @ 11:59 am

    My mom lives in arpartments and she gad roaches .what oils could she use to get rid of them . Thanks

  • By Linda, December 15, 2013 @ 4:57 am

    Peppermint EO will also keep mice away. A friend used to get them in her camper while it was stored for the winter. Now she puts soaks cotton balls in peppermint and leaves them in little cups in the camper over the winter.

  • By D, January 6, 2014 @ 3:46 am

    How long will it last? ie. How often do we have to “respray”.

  • By praveena, January 13, 2014 @ 6:46 am

    Pls. Give hommade tip to get rid of cockroaches.

  • By Karen, January 21, 2014 @ 11:53 am

    We get invaded by tiny ants in the spring. Which oil works on the ants and how should I use it? Besides my kitchen they get in my laundry room where we feed the cats. Thanks!

  • By mark, February 10, 2014 @ 5:39 am

    Does anyone have an idea of how to get rid of assassin bugs? I have one that lays eggs every 6 months or so. I can seem to kill all the babys, but I can’t seem to find the mother. It is getting very annoying. I’ll describe them but they are known as assassin bugs. They have a probiscus. They look nasty. They look like white flies when young, and need to stick a mammal to get blood to be able to molt or whatever to be an adult. When they are a bit older, they turn black. They go through about 8 or 9 stages before becoming a mature adult. Trust me , you don’t ever want to see one in the later stages.

    If anyone knows of an essential oil, or other natural product that can kill this type of bug, please let me know. You can find ifo by looking up assassin bug. But it is hard to find something that you can spray to kill them. DE will kill them if they land of it, but I need something to spray all the nooks and crannys and places that gravity prevents DE from sticking to.

    Thanks for any help or information.

  • By lynne chick, February 16, 2014 @ 9:08 am

    how do I rid of ants.. I live in a trailer home. and there are ants all over .. we live near a beach in new Zealand.

  • By Carol, March 21, 2014 @ 1:58 am

    I use a solution that is about half/half peppermint and bay laurel essential oils , add water and use it to spray spiders and ants. It kills some ants on contact, others need several sprays to kill them. The same with spiders, some die instantly, others take several sprays. I used this all last summer, and it works wonderfully!

    I had both the tiny sugar type ants, which die immediately, and also the bigger ones, which I’m not sure what they were after….not sweets, maybe fats?? Any way, they died, but you have to really drown those larger ones.

    You do need to refresh the spray about once a day, as since the oils are diluted with water, they evaporate quickly. You could use full strength oils,but that would get very expensive… I plan to eventually plant peppermint and bay around my house, to keep them out in the first place!!!

  • By leslie, April 16, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

    I plan to use this around my pool this summer. Every year we get huge spiders that sit in the crevice of the liner. Its nice to have something safe that if it does get it the water, it won’t poison us!

  • By Eva Lonborg, May 8, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

    How to use the essential oils against e.g. spiders and other insects? Not to kill them but to keep them from not coming in doors.
    How to use the essential oils agains e.g. ticks and insects that bother humans?

  • By Eva Lonborg, May 8, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

    Jennifer S.
    The moths in your pantry – don’t they live on your flour and other foods? When I see one of those tiny moths I check all my foods in the pantry. They live on anything but sugar and salt. Usually, you notice weblike stringy things in the e.g. flour: you’ve got moth larva on their way.
    Would love to know how to keep them away, but unfortunately I think they come with the foods.

  • By Annette, June 8, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

    Would peppermint plants as well work?

  • By David Lightsey, August 13, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

    A Natural Repellant For Fleas Is (Believe it or not) Just Spread Some Banana Peels In Area Where They Are.

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