Does Peppermint Oil Work to Get Rid of Ants?
We’ve learned our lesson using powerful chemicals to control pests, such as the invention, and subsequent banning of D.D.T (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) in the 1940s. DDT was heralded as an extremely effective insecticide, intended to eradicate pests that carried malaria and dengue fever, yet its effects on nature were destructive and widespread.
The widespread usage of D.D.T ended up killing important ecosystems such as birds and fish, not to mention mosquitos developed a natural tolerance to the stuff. recently we have used peppermint oil for killing ants.
For that reason and others, the world now looks fondly at more natural insect repellants. Countless blogs proclaim the virtues of all-natural, homemade house pest remedies, such as garlic sprays, mint leaves, and sprinkling cayenne pepper around ant nests.
Many of these natural remedies are quite ineffective in scientific studies, except for a very small few. Two natural insect repellants often stand out above others, for their efficacy and safety in use. The first is diatomaceous earth, and the other is peppermint oil.
Organic Lesson says that household pests such as ants are repelled by the scent of peppermint while mentioning other useful ways to control house pests with non-chemical methods.
Many of the organic pest control blogs out there offer many solutions, but rarely explain how or why these solutions work. Then we get myths like coffee grounds being effective at controlling pests, based on anecdotal evidence, while other blogs debunk these myths.
In this article, we’re going to summarize a collection of actual scientific studies focused on peppermint oil as a natural insect repellant.
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Type of Ants as Evasive House Insects
Several ant species can qualify as evasive house insects, making them tricky to track down and eliminate. Here are a few common culprits:
Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile): These tiny, pale yellow ants are notorious for their ability to infiltrate homes through the smallest cracks and crevices. They’re drawn to moisture and sugary crumbs, often nesting in hidden areas like walls, voids, and behind appliances. Their strong, unpleasant odor is a telltale sign of their presence.
Pharaoh Ant (Monomorium pharaonis): These reddish-brown ants are heat-loving and thrive in warm, humid environments like kitchens and bathrooms. They’re adept at climbing and can easily reach food sources stored high up. Their small size and ability to form multiple nests within a single colony make them challenging to control.
Ghost Ant (Tetramorium caespitum): As their name suggests, these translucent ants are masters of camouflage. They’re nocturnal and prefer dark, moist areas like basements and crawl spaces. Their elusive nature makes them difficult to pinpoint, often leading to surprise encounters when they forage for food in the kitchen at night.
Crazy Ant (Nylanderia spp.): Several species of crazy ants can invade homes, but the Tawny Crazy Ant (Nylanderia fulva) is a particularly troublesome pest. These erratic, fast-moving ants are known for their unpredictable behavior and ability to climb smooth surfaces. They’re attracted to sweets and grease, often leaving trails of chaos in their wake.
Carpenter Ant (Camponotus spp.): While not as common as other house ants, carpenter ants can cause significant structural damage by burrowing through wood to build their nests. Their telltale sign is sawdust piles near entry points, indicating their tunneling activity. Early detection and control are crucial to prevent costly repairs.
These are just a few examples, and the specific ant species you encounter will depend on your location and environmental factors. If you suspect an ant infestation in your home, it’s best to consult a pest control professional for proper identification and a targeted treatment plan. Remember, early intervention is key to effectively evicting these unwelcome houseguests!
Do Ants Hate Peppermint
If you were to walk around a peppermint plant, you might be surprised to see that ants are using the plant as their home. They don’t seem to mind if you accidentally step on it and make a mess of their home.
Ants hate peppermint because it smells like a predator’s scent – mint is one of the strongest predators in nature and the smell will make them move out of its way.
A field study done in Germany found that ants responded to the smell of peppermint by moving up away from the plant. The peppers were positioned at different heights on different plants but all had a mint scent on them. The peppermint plants with no mint scent had no ant movement around them.
Mighty Mint – spray bottle – 16oz Insect and Pest Control Peppermint Oil
Natural Spray for Spiders, Ants, and More – Non-Toxic
natural ant repellent spray bottle Peppermint oil has been used as a powerful insect repellent and killer for decades. Studies confirm the incredible possibilities of insect control of mint.
- Mighty Mint Insect & Pest Control is made from 100% herbal ingredients. In addition to peppermint essential oil in the northwest
- Unlike many pest solutions, Mighty Mint Insect & Pest Control is safe for your family, dogs, cats, and other pets when used as directed.
What is Peppermint?
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a perennial herb used for culinary and medicinal purposes. It is a hybrid of water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata), and can be found widely cultivated in Asia, Europe, and North America. The essential oil it contains is a primary source of menthol, along with the active substances menthone and pulegone.
Used medicinally, peppermint is used as a carminative (relieves flatulence) and antispasmodic. Menthol is also found in soaps, oral hygiene products, fragrances, and mentholated tobacco products.
Peppermint oil is the fifth most-produced essential oil in the world (Schmidt 2009), and it is most widely produced in the United States, China, and India as the leading peppermint-producing countries (Denny and Lawrence 2007).
US peppermint production throughout the 19th century was centered in Wayne County, NY. The oil is harvested by high-pressure steam distillation, where fresh mint is packed into a retort, and steam is passed through the chamber.
Peppermint oil is a natural ant repellent, The oil would float on top of the water and then be distilled by different boiling points of water and oil. Newer more modern methods introduced higher pressures, wider ranges of temperature control, vacuum distillation, and crystallization, which has resulted in greater yields, higher quality, and a greater variety of products for specialty applications.
How to use peppermint oil for ants
- Spray: Mix 10-15 drops of peppermint oil with 16 ounces of water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray entry points, ant trails, and areas they frequent. Avoid spraying directly on food preparation surfaces.
- Cotton balls: Soak cotton balls in diluted peppermint oil and place them near entry points or ant nests. Replace them every few days.
- Cleaning: Add a few drops of peppermint oil to your regular cleaning solution to deter ants while cleaning.
Homemade High-quality Peppermint Oil
Making high-quality homemade peppermint oil requires more meticulous attention to detail than a basic infusion method. Here’s how you can achieve it:
- Peppermint source: Use organic, fresh peppermint leaves picked in the morning after dew evaporates, when oil concentration is highest.
- Drying: Briefly air-dry the leaves or pat them dry gently with a clean, lint-free cloth. Avoid overheating or bruising, which can degrade the oil quality.
- Equipment: Opt for a high-quality, stainless steel or glass still specifically designed for essential oil distillation. Avoid copper as it can react with peppermint oil.
- Chopping: Lightly chop or tear the leaves to increase surface area for better essential oil extraction, oil is generally considered safe.
- Loading the still: Place the chopped leaves in the still’s lower chamber. Cover with water just sufficient to immerse the leaves without flooding the chamber.
- Heating: Slowly heat the water using the still’s heat source. Aim for a gradual temperature increase to avoid harsh extraction and preserve sensitive volatile compounds.
- Condensation and collection: As the water vaporizes, it carries the peppermint oil droplets to the cooler condenser unit, where they condense back into liquid. Collect the condensed oil in a clean, amber glass container.
- Separation: Allow the collected liquid to settle. The essential oil, being lighter than water, will form a top layer. Carefully separate the oil using a pipette or dropper.
Tips for high-quality oil:
- Use filtered water: Impurities in the water can affect the oil’s purity and shelf life.
- Control the temperature: Aim for a gentle simmer, around 90-100°C (194-212°F), to extract the desired volatile compounds without burning the oil.
- Distill in batches: Overcrowding still can impact the oil’s quality. Divide larger quantities into smaller batches for optimal results.
- Store properly: Keep the oil in a dark, cool place in an airtight amber glass bottle to prevent oxidation and maintain its potency.
Neem oil vs. Peppermint oil as Repellent Ants
Both neem oil and peppermint oil can be effective deterrents for ants, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right one depends on your specific needs and preferences:
- Broader spectrum: Repels not only ants but also other insects like termites, roaches, and mosquitoes.
- Long-lasting effect: Works for several weeks after application.
- Natural and safe: Less harsh than chemical pesticides, generally safe for pets and children when used properly.
- Insecticidal properties: peppermint oil kill ants upon contact and disrupts their breeding cycle.
- Strong odor: Some people find the smell unpleasant.
- May stain: Can leave oily marks on surfaces.
- Not as readily available: Might require purchasing online or at specialty stores.
- Stronger repellent: The intense scent effectively disrupts ant communication and navigation, deterring them from entering treated areas.
- Easy to find: Often sold at grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Pleasant smell: Many people find the minty scent refreshing.
- Multipurpose: Can be used for other household applications like freshening the air or deterring other pests.
- Shorter-lasting effect: Needs to be reapplied more frequently than neem oil.
- Less effective at killing: Primarily repels ants, not kills them.
- May irritate skin: Can cause skin irritation in some individuals.
- If you want a strong repellent with multiple insect-deterring properties, neem oil might be the better choice.
- If you prefer a more readily available option with a pleasant scent and short-term ant deterrent effect, peppermint oil is a good option.
- The severity of your ant infestation. For larger infestations, neem oil might be more effective due to its insecticidal properties.
- The presence of pets or children. Choose a safer option like peppermint oil if you have pets or young children.
- Your personal preferences regarding smell and application frequency.
Ultimately, the best way to determine which oil works best for you is to try them both and see which one provides the most effective and satisfactory results for your ant problem.
Studies on Peppermint Oil as an insect-repellant
There have been numerous laboratory studies conducted to evaluate the repellency and contact toxicity of numerous essential oils and other natural pest control methods.
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia conducted experiments on six essential oils and their ability to repel the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) and the red imported fire ant. Both Ant species crossed barriers that were treated with essential oils, including peppermint, and monitored for results after 24 hours of exposure.
The mortality rate for Argentine ants exposed to peppermint oil was almost 90%, and the results were confirmed in a subsequent study that found 1% peppermint oil to be an effective repellent for Argentine ants, for a period of one week.
That bolded part is an important takeaway because it means that the peppermint oil must be reapplied every week to be continuously effective at controlling ant populations.
South China Agricultural University
Field studies at the South China Agricultural University found that “the repellency and toxicity of peppermint oil particles caused fire ant nests to be abandoned”, and significantly deterred the foraging of red imported fire ants.
Bits of sausage were treated with essential oils of different types, including peppermint oil, and placed near fire ant nests, where cameras were set up to record the ant workers’ behavior towards the treated sausage pieces.
The results found that “the number of worker ants recruited was significantly less than the control when the exposure time is greater than 10 min” in regards to sausages treated with peppermint oil. However, the most effective oil was Capsicum annuum, distilled from chili pepper plants.
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Why Does Peppermint Oil Deter Ants?
It’s simple enough to say that ants are repelled by the smell of peppermint oil, but for science buffs, let’s dig a little deeper.
The major chemical compounds found in peppermint oil include terpene, alcohol, and menthol. Each one of those chemical compounds is a natural fumigant, which means that insects and rodents are repelled when their smell receptors pick up on the compounds.
Exactly why they are repelled by the smell of these compounds boils down to evolutionary traits. Insects and plants share a long evolutionary history with each other, which means that plants have developed their own defenses against insects and herbivores from feeding on them.
Terpenes are secondary metabolites widely distributed in the plant kingdom. Plants produce mixtures of terpenes, which are easily isolated by hydrodistillation as oils. The toxicity of various terpene compounds (described as the compound’s LC50) depends on the plant, and some insects have also evolved bio mechanisms for dealing with the toxicity of certain terpenes, but some terpenes remain too toxic for insects to handle.
You can read the rest of the above-linked study on the toxicity of terpenes to insects, but the short version is, that plants developed a way to wage chemical warfare against insects, which is why peppermint oil extract is effective at repelling ants.
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Peppermint Oil to Get Rid of Ants
Peppermint oil is a natural and effective solution to get rid of ants in your home. Its strong aroma acts as a powerful ant deterrent, making it an excellent natural alternative to chemical pesticides. The scent of peppermint oil is pleasant to humans but repulsive to ants, making it an ideal choice for those who want to maintain a clean and safe environment without exposing themselves, their family, or their pets to harmful chemicals. To prepare a peppermint oil solution to eliminate ants, you will need a few ingredients:
1. Peppermint Essential Oil:
Ensure that you are using high-quality, pure peppermint essential oil for the best results. Avoid diluted or synthetic versions, as they may not be as effective.
Mix the essential oil with water to dilute it.
This allows for a safer and more controlled application. To create the peppermint oil solution, follow these steps:
1. In a spray bottle, combine 10-15 drops of peppermint oil with one cup of water. Shake the bottle gently to ensure the oil is well mixed with the water. Adjust the amount of oil based on the severity of the ant infestation.
2. Identify the areas where ants are most prevalent, such as entry points, baseboards, windowsills, and countertops. These are the areas where the peppermint oil solution should be applied.
3. Liberally spray the solution in the problem areas. Be sure to cover all the ant trails and any potential entry points to deter them from coming in. Repeat this process daily until the ants are completely gone. Additionally, you can soak cotton balls in the peppermint oil solution and place them strategically around your home, particularly in areas with a high presence.
This creates a barrier and emits a strong scent that ants will avoid. Peppermint oil is not only effective in repelling ants but also has a host of other benefits. Its refreshing aroma can uplift your mood, relieve stress, and improve focus.
Moreover, it can be used as a natural air freshener, peppermint oil ant repellent insect, and even a headache reliever. With all these advantages, using peppermint oil to get rid of ants is a smart and safe choice for a pest-free home.
Other Studies Worth Checking Out
- Peppermint oil on human skin was effective against three mosquito species. From: Ansari, M. A., Vasudevan, P., Tandon, M., & Razdan, R. K. (2000). Larvicidal and mosquito repellent action of peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil. Bioresource Technology, 71(3), 267-271.
- Beta farnesene in peppermint confused aphid pheromones. From: Crock, J., Wildung, M., & Croteau, R. (1997). Isolation and bacterial expression of a sesquiterpene synthase cDNA clone from peppermint (Mentha x piperita, L.) that produces the aphid alarm pheromone (E)-β-farnesene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 94(24), 12833-12838.
- Of 53 tested plant oils, bay, caraway seed, clove leaf, lemon eucalyptus, lime, pennyroyal, peppermint, rosewood, spearmint, and tea tree oils were highly effective against the greenhouse whitefly. From: Choi, W. I., Lee, E. H., Choi, B. R., Park, H. M., & Ahn, Y. J. (2003). Toxicity of plant essential oils to Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 96(5), 1479-1484.
Can peppermint oil get rid of ants?
Yes, peppermint oil can get rid of ants. It has a strong scent that ants hate, and it can also kill them. To use peppermint oil to get rid of ants, you can mix a few drops of peppermint oil with water and spray it on ant trails and entry points. You can also put a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and place them in areas where ants are active.
Here are some tips for using peppermint oil to get rid of ants:
- Use pure peppermint oil, not a peppermint extract or fragrance.
- Mix the peppermint oil with water before using it. A good ratio is 10 drops of peppermint oil to 1 ounce of water.
- Spray the peppermint oil solution on ant trails and entry points.
- Place cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil in areas where ants are active.
- Reapply the peppermint oil solution every few days, or more often if needed.
Why do ants hate peppermint?
Ants hate peppermint because of its strong scent. Peppermint oil contains a compound called menthol, which has an insecticidal effect on ants. Menthol disrupts the ants’ communication and navigation systems, making it difficult for them to find food and their way back to their nests.
Peppermint oil also has a repellent effect on ants. The strong scent of peppermint masks the ants’ pheromone trails, which they use to communicate and navigate. This makes it difficult for the ants to find each other and their way to food and their nests.
Additionally, peppermint oil can irritate the ants’ antennae and other sensory organs. This can make the ants uncomfortable and cause them to avoid areas where the oil is present.
Overall, ants hate peppermint because of its strong scent, insecticidal properties, and repellent effect. Peppermint oil is a safe and effective way to get rid of ants and peppermint oil prevents them from coming back.