No one likes cockroaches. Okay, maybe some exotic pet owners and entomologists. No one likes cockroaches in their kitchen. Better?
Cockroaches are fast, they eat anything, they carry diseases and they’re just plain gross. They’re so ingrained in our collective nightmares that they’re the baddies of more than a few horror movies.
So it’s no wonder social media is rife with tricks and tips to get rid of them. This latest anti-roach TikTok hack claims that after spraying lavender water in her client’s home, roaches hit the road and were scarce for a week.
#nomoreroaches #noinsecticides #noinsectsinmyhome #lavenderroachkilla #lavenderroachkiller #lavenderflowers💜 #nobedbugshere #insectfreezone
♬ original sound – Kiki Davis
We asked an entomologist if this hack was sound. Is lavender water really a cheap, natural alternative to harsh chemical insecticides?
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How it Works
The recipe is simple: Two tablespoons of lavender flower and four to six cups of water, simmered for four to six hours. Alternatively, let the lavender steep without heat for two days. Strain the lavender out of the mixture, let it cool and put the lavender water into a spray bottle.
According to the hack, just spray this where you see roaches and it should repel the nasty bugs from your home.
From the Expert
But will this hack work? Not according to Scott Green, a board-certified entomologist (BCE) with Ehrlich Pest Control.
“As an essential oil (EO), lavender can repel some small insects like flies and fleas,” says Green. It’s especially effective, he says, when combined with other EOs like spearmint and wintermint.
One problem: EOs don’t have a ton of residual efficacy. That means they must be reapplied frequently, and roaches don’t carry them back to their pals in your walls. For roach control, that’s a problem.
What Is An Essential Oil?
Essential oils are chemical compounds that make lavender smell like lavender and mint smell like mint. They are the “essence” of the plant. “Bugs come up, smell it and want no part of it,” says Green.
Essential oils are bug paralytics, affecting certain neurotransmitters that control movement and communication between tissues. They can be used in concentrated form or as a spray.
Lavender Water vs. Lavender Oil
If essential oil sprays are effective against some bugs, why wouldn’t this hack work? What’s the difference between lavender water and lavender essential oil?
Essential oils must be extracted from a plant via steam distillation, cold-pressing, solvent extraction or other specific means. Essential oils are not really oils in the traditional sense. They’re volatile chemical compounds, meaning they evaporate easily under normal temperature and pressure.
Those vaporized compounds must be captured and condensed to be used effectively. Think of a whiskey still. You wouldn’t get any booze in the bottle if you let the alcohol molecules escape with the steam.
True lavender water, or hydrosol, is the solution left over after extracting essential oils. Lavender water has a ton of great uses, from cooking to relaxing. But the EOs contain repellant qualities, so lavender water is just not going to be the best solution for roaches.
And then there’s this: “Lavender isn’t one of the oils that truly eliminates anything,” Green says. Well, shoot.
What To Do About Roaches
“The best way to control cockroaches is not to allow them into your house,” Green says. Here’s how:
- Move woodpiles and other cockroach hiding places away from your house.
- Clean up pet waste!
- Pick up rotting fruit and vegetables that fall from trees or garden plants.
- Don’t leave food or water outside. If you feed your pet on the patio, pick up the dish when they’re finished.
- Seal up cracks and crevices in your home’s exterior.
If you do find roaches, an integrated approach is best. Sanitation, mechanical repair, cleaning and changing personal habits are always the first thing to try:
- Vacuum the bug up, if possible.
- Clean and sanitize the area daily.
- Trap roaches on a glue trap and have them identified by an expert. This knowledge can help determine the best way to eliminate them.
- Hire a pest control expert to take care of infestations.
While essential oils show promise for some bugs, cockroaches are nothing to mess around with. Unfortunately, there’s just no evidence that homemade lavender water is going to cut it.
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