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Bay Leaves and Insects

By Kay Wagers
Crushed bay leaves deter insects.
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Bay leaves are a Mediterranean herb that adds savory notes to sauces and spice blends. In addition to flavoring stews and meat dishes, bay leaves can be used as a natural insect repellent.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves contain a compound called cineol, which is related to the compound found in eucalyptus leaves and oil. It is a natural insect repellent that works against ants, roaches and other insects that can invade your kitchen looking for food.


Placing a bay leaf inside a container of dried beans or rice will deter ants or roaches from coming inside. If you have seen insects inside your home, crush dried bay leaves and scatter the pieces where you spotted them. Crushed bay leaves can also be placed in a garden to repel insects.


Whole bay leaves are a choking hazard, so do not leave one on the floor where a child or pet might find and eat it. Crushing the leaves releases more of the cineol scent and makes the leaves safer. Mark food containers that you place bay leaves inside so they will not accidentally make their way into recipes where they do not belong.