Did you know you may have an effective natural insect repellent in your kitchen right now?
Often used fresh or dry as a way to add flavor and aroma to soups, stews and sauces, bay leaves can be your secret weapon against a variety of household pests. Even better: They are inexpensive and safe to use.
The term bay leaf refers to the leaves of several plants, including the bay laurel; the California bay leaf (aka California laurel, Oregon myrtle and pepperwood); the Indian bay leaf; the Indonesian bay leaf; the West Indian bay leaf; and the Mexican bay leaf.
The leaves of these plants contain essential oils, such as eucalyptol and other terpenes. The leaves have a strong fragrance and a sharp, bitter taste when eaten whole. When cooking, the bay leaf has a slightly floral aroma that is somewhat similar to thyme or oregano.
One easy way to deter bugs is by taping a few fresh (not dried) bay leaves inside cabinets or under shelves where you have seen insects. You also can place the leaves inside canisters or packages that hold pasta, rice, oats, flour or cornmeal.
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When you use bay leaves in your kitchen to repel insects, the smell will not transfer into your food. But it will drive pests away.
Another option is to place bay leaves along baseboards, near trashcans and under appliances.
The leaves will lose their odor in a few days, so you will need to replace them with fresh leaves about once a week to maintain effectiveness.
Here are some of the insects bay leaves repel:
- Sugar ants.
- Pantry moths.
A recent look on Amazon uncovered some bulk deals on bay leaves that are easy on the wallet. For example, a six-ounce resalable plastic bag filled with Turkish Bay Leaves from Medley Hills Farm Gourmet is priced at $9.89.
A 16-ounce bag of whole bay leaves from Frontier Bay sells for $19.58.
Spicy World offers a three-pound bag with a $35.99 price tag.
Another way to have plenty of bay leaves on hand is to grow your own bay tree. The Internet offers several helpful videos if you would like to undertake this project. Here are two examples.
In addition, it is relatively easy to start bay plants from cuttings.
The use of bay leaves as an insect repellent is not backed up by scientific studies, but plenty of people swear by their effectiveness in keeping bugs at bay (pun intended). If you are plagued by insects in your pantry, what do you have to lose? It makes sense to give bay leaves a try.
Have you ever used bay leaves to chase away insects? Share your tips on using them in the section below: