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Does Citronella Oil Repel Ants?

Does Citronella Oil Repel Ants

The market is full of insect repellants and chemicals that promise to kill any creepy crawlers in your home or your yard, but not everyone wants to spray their house with bug-killing sprays where their kids or pets are going to run and play.

However, when ants invade your home, something needs to be done. Perhaps you have started looking around for natural alternatives to commercial bug sprays and insect killers, and if you have, then it is possible that you have come to read about citronella oil?

Citronella oil is known for being a natural substitute for bug-killing spray and insecticides, but the question is this: Does it work on ants? Citronella oil might not be an effective ant killer, but it can definitely repel ants and keep them at bay.

Citronella Oil Effectiveness vs Ants

Lemongrass oil, which is a product that contains citronella oil, or the oil in its pure form can be used to get rid of ants inside your house or out in the garden.

It is important to understand here that citronella oil won’t be as effective as a chemical bug killer designed to kill ants, but it might still be enough to keep ants at bay without having to turn to pesticides.

You might even notice that some commercial products contain lemongrass or citronella oil, which should be a strong indicator that there is something to this natural substitute! The products you pick up at the store are usually filled with other things, though, so if you want to go as natural as possible – beware.

How Citronella Oil Works

The prime function of citronella oil is that it works to throw off ants on their way to food! It is no coincidence that ants tend to walk in a long line – an ant trail – once they find a food source, and new ants keep coming because they can smell the ant trail left by their peers.

With citronella oil, it cleverly masks the ant trail scent and stops the ants from returning.

It is debatable whether citronella oil actually kills ants or if it just drives them away, but when it comes down to it, it fulfills its function by removing those little bugs from your home. 

Tests have been performed to measure the effectiveness of the oil, and the results indicated that 50% of the ants subjected to the tests (fire ants) were killed after only one day and that all ants died within the course of a day.

The tests were performed in a lab and may or may not reflect the effectiveness of citronella oil used in the house.

Why Choose a Natural Product?

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to go with a natural deterrent to insects and pests, and one reason is the environment. The production of toxic products takes a toll on the environment, both through the production process but also by releasing these toxins into your yard or into the atmosphere. 

More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious – choosing natural alternatives over chemicals, and a natural ant killer is a small step in the right direction. There are plenty of natural ant-killing sprays on the market nowadays, and some even choose to make their own.

Another reason to choose a natural ant repellent is that you don’t wish to subject yourself, your family, kids, or your pets to toxins, chemicals, and pesticides.

Totally valid! Many products are advertised as safe to use around dogs, cats, and kids, but it is understandable why spraying poison all over the house could be conflicting to some.

Natural Store Bought Options

Before we talk about homemade ant killers – let’s talk about the natural options you can buy! Not everyone has the time to make their own repellent, and the good news is that you can still purchase a quality product with natural ingredients!

The first thing you want to look for is the word “natural,” but don’t trust it blindly (we will get to that). These types of products often contain, for example, citronella oil, and uses natural components to substitute your average bug killer components. 

A little trick is to look at the list of contents. As a general rule, natural products tend to list fewer items than a chemical bug killer, and you should look for items you recognize. 

Compare with a toxic chemical killer, where the items listed will most likely sound almost like a foreign language to many people. Natural bug repellents, on the other hand, should have easily understandable items listed, such as citronella oil.

Making Your Own Citronella Ant Spray

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Citronella can be used for more than just ants, and it is found in anti-tick sprays for pets, mosquito repellents, and more. These products can be fabricated at home if needed, but many opt for purchasing natural citronella repellents as a result of the recently expanded market.

If you were to make your own citronella ant spray, you would need boiled water, citronella, and rubbing alcohol. This mixture goes in a spray bottle and should be stored cold.

The downside when making your own product is that you might struggle to get the measurements right, and with that in mind, purchasing a tested product might be the better option.

We recommend using pure and undiluted citronella oil like this one, as it will have the best effects when making your own citronella spray.

Is Citronella Oil Safe?

One main concern voiced by users is whether citronella is safe to use. You might be wishing to swap your chemical ant repellent for citronella spray, and then it is important to know that the natural option can actually be considered safe and harmless to you and those around you.

Furniture, Clothes ; Surfaces

It is understandable that you wouldn’t want your furniture and home appliances to get stained when you spray your citronella product, and in most cases, this isn’t a problem. Pure citronella oil does stain fabric and clothing, due to being an oil, but most natural ant repellents with citronella do not stain.

You may want to test out the spray on a small surface to make sure before spraying it onto something a little more delicate, but most commercially sold natural sprays are mixed in a way that should prevent any significant staining.

Children ; Pets

Citronella is used to repel pests like fleas and ticks in pests, but the plant itself is actually toxic to dogs and other animals!

Products containing citronella are safe to use on and around pets, but you should prevent the dog from licking the liquid, and you should preferably refrain from having any citronella plants in a home with pets.

For kids, citronella does not present an issue, but it does not mean they should lick or eat it, and you want to make sure you use it with common sense in households with children.

Final Thoughts

Citronella oil and products containing citronella oil make a great and natural substitute for ant repellents and bug killers. If you are not comfortable with using chemicals and pesticides to kill pests in your home, citronella oil could be the way to go.

Oils like citronella and lemongrass are known for confusing ants by masking the scent of their ant trail, which means you will put a stop to that long line of little ants that has been making their way across your kitchen counters. 

Luckily, the industry has caught on with the increased interest in natural products, and you can now find excellent products made with, for example, citronella oil to repel ants.

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