Ancient Romans may have used peppermint as a universal symbol of hospitality, but garden and house pests do not find peppermint’s scent to be welcoming. This is good news for anyone eager to solve insect problems without using harmful toxins. The essential oil of peppermint (Menta piperita) provides protection from several kinds of insects and vermin. And while you may not be plagued by every pest in the book, a systematic application of peppermint-based deterrents can help you and your home remain pest free.
Mix one part peppermint essential oil to 10 parts water in a spray bottle to rid your plants of ants. Spritz the mixture on foliage wherever you see the offending ants.
Dab cotton balls with a few drops of peppermint oil and place the balls in the corners of rooms to control ants. You can also tuck them between books on bookcases, or place them on your kitchen counters, as well.
Hang a floral or herbal wreath in the kitchen and periodically sprinkle it with a few drops of peppermint oil. The scented wreath will not only serve as an air freshener during humid summer months; it will also deter mosquitoes and flies. A bowl of peppermint-based potpourri combined with peppermint essential oil will have the same effect.
Wear a homemade body oil of peppermint essential oil to keep flying insects at bay. Combine the peppermint with the essential oils of rosemary, citronella, eucalyptus or clove. Add the mix of essential oils to sweet almond oil at a rate of four drops of oil for every teaspoon of sweet almond oil. You can also mix peppermint oil directly into store-bought body lotion or oil.
Place a saucer of water containing a few drops of peppermint oil in a room plagued by mosquitoes. An essential oil burner filled with peppermint will also work well.
Dab cotton rags or balls into peppermint oil to scare mice and rats away. This method can work for both indoor and outdoor pest problems. If using this approach outdoors, place the cotton in protected and dry locations so you won’t have to replace them every time it rains. This method is said to also work well with rabbits and squirrels.
Things You Will Need
- Peppermint essential oil
- Cotton balls or rags
- Spray bottle
- Sweet almond or other body oil
- Essential oils of rosemary, clove and other spices (optional)
- Harmful bacteria and mold spores can also potentially be treated with peppermint oil. One French research team blended peppermint and six other essential oils before spaying them on a mixture of molds, microorganisms and staphylococci colonies. The blend killed 206 of the 210 treated colonies.
- While peppermint oil provides the most concentrated scent-based pest deterrents, dried or fresh mint can also be effective. Peppermint tea bags work well in cabinets and car ashtrays, and many people grow peppermint around their house foundations to keep mice and ants away. One classic companion planting technique pairs peppermint and roses; the peppermint is said to deter aphids.
- Oregon State University Extension Service suggests doing a "patch test" on your plants before spraying them with a mixture containing peppermint or any other essential oil. If the leaves become discolored or the plants seem otherwise stressed, discontinue the peppermint oil applications.
- Almost any kind of essential oil can stain furniture, paint or flooring if sprayed directly onto the surface. Always dilute peppermint oil in water, or use the cotton ball method described above.