Banishing Bugs with Bay Leaves

Categories: How To

bayleaves.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Boric acid kills roaches (among other creepy-crawlies). Which is great if you want to dispose of roach carcasses and enjoy crafting little tinfoil boats and filling them with white powder, gleefully placing them in enticing spots like kitchen cupboards, the insecticide version of a pederast stocking his windowless van with candy.

But what if you just want to keep roaches away in the first place?

Bay leaves. That's right. They're good for something other than soups.

Like boric acid, bay leaves are the kinder, gentler (at least to humans) and more natural way of keeping insects at bay. Pun intended. But they don't just banish roaches.

Bay leaves also keep weevils out of your flour, cornmeal, Bisquick and other cupboard products, and they deter ants, silverfish and a whole horde of other insects that are legion in the swampy Bayou City. Unlike insecticides, they're -- obviously -- totally safe to keep around food, and they cost a lot less money.

The bag of bay leaves above came from Georgia's. It cost $4. Add in the cost of a little Scotch tape and your home insecticide arsenal is well-stocked.

Simply tape fresh bay leaves inside cabinets or under appliances to ward off insect invasions. You can also stick the leaves themselves into your canisters or bags of flour, cornmeal, etc. The flavor and scent of the leaves won't leech into your dried goods, so don't worry about that. The scent will, however, drive bugs crazy and keep them far away from your pantry.

The only worry: Changing the leaves every few months when they get stale.



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8 comments
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soulten
soulten

they bay leaves definately work, have used them for decades and kept a good pantry all that time

Tim
Tim

Any idea if they're safe for pets? I can just see my cats batting these around and possibly gnawing on them (at least the ones that I might use, for example, loose under the stove to break up the roach party that seems to occur nightly down there).

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Okay, according to my vet, they are not toxic to either cats or dogs. Go for it!

AK
AK

This is just a conspiracy by the bay leaf makers to sell more bay leaves.

Matthew
Matthew

how and why does this work?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

It's in the second-to-last sentence: "The scent will, however, drive bugs crazy and keep them far away from your pantry." As I understand it, they hate the taste of the leaves, too.

Matthew
Matthew

i just wonder, why don't they like the smell or taste? i'm not trying to be difficult; my curiosity is piqued. wiki was no help.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

It isn't just bay leaves that they hate. There are apparently other strongly-scented herbs and essential oils that can also be used, like eucalyptus and peppermint. Bay leaves just happen to be the item that my mother has used successfully around the house for years. It appears to be these strong scents themselves that the insects can't stand, not the bay leaves per se.

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