The practice of using essential oils as insecticides and insect repellents is ancient. Chemical insecticides are toxic and can harm anything it touches—including non-target organisms. In this light, organic pest control substitutes are preferable. Citrus essential oils are good alternatives to synthetic chemical insecticides. With a vast array of benefits, they are also effective in insect pest control.
As pollinators, carpenter bees play a crucial part in nature and man. But in search of a nest site, they cause structural damage to property. Still, we should take care in controlling them, by choosing less deleterious procedures. Carpenter bees, like every other insect pest, are repulsive to citrus oils. So, a simple application of these oils can ward them off. Below, we will dive into the details of what citrus essential oils are and how they can get rid of carpenter bees.
Citrus Essential Oils—What are They?
Plants of the Citrus genus have incredible value to humankind. They provide us with nutritious fruits, and produce beneficial essential oils. Citrus essential oils are concentrated oils obtained mainly from the rind of Citrus fruits. These oils can also be gotten from other vegetative parts such as their flowers, leaves, and seeds. Examples of such citrus fruits include sweet orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, and mandarin.
Citrus essential oils contain compounds such as monoterpenes, terpenoids, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. Many research reveals that monoterpenes are the most abundant compounds in essential oils. Amongst the monoterpenes, limonene is the most plentiful and active against carpenter bees. These compounds have biological activities that provide health benefits and kill pests. Several studies report that citrus oils can serve as a repellent, and contact insecticide against insect pests.
Citrus oils serve a wide range of purposes. They provide many health benefits and are used in food preparation. In the pharmaceutical and beauty industries, citrus essential oils are valuable ingredients. Due to their microbicidal nature, they serve as cleaners and organic disinfectants. Also, like insecticides and repellents, they work well with pest control strategies.
Can Citrus Oil Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees?
Citrus essential oils work as contact insecticides, fumigants, or insect repellents. As insecticides, they kill carpenter bees on contact by poisoning. Droplets diffuse into the bee’s body and destabilize its nervous system. This leads to death.
Along with this, the scent of citrus oil is repulsive to carpenter bees, thus fending them off from the area and can be used as an effective repellent to protect your home.
How Are Citrus Essential Oil Extracted?
The methods involved in the extraction of citrus oils involve using heat or energy. This dissolves and drives the volatile oils out of the citrus peels. Although these are industrial processes, you can do them at home with the right tools. You can buy citrus oil from stores, or you can extract the oil at home. There are two common ways to extract citrus oils:
- Cold Press
Cold pressing is a method that requires little or no heat to extract the citrus oil. It gives a good result though it requires a lot of energy. Also, it reduces the effect of heat that may tamper with the constituents of the Citrus. It is mechanical because it involves the crushing of citrus rinds by hand, or with a machine. After crushing, the oils are separated and collected from the other citrus extracts.
- Steam Distillation
This is a meticulous procedure that requires control in temperature, time, and pressure. Steam is passed through the crushed citrus peels in an enclosed container. This is done to release the volatile oils. Then the extracted oils are collected in a different container.
You can simply boil citrus rinds in a pot of water for the oils to infuse into the water. Then, fill a mist bottle with the infusion, and use it as a citrus spray for carpenter bees.
Citrus Oil Recipe For Carpenter Bee Control
- As Natural Insecticide
Well extracted citrus oil is potent and loaded with many natural chemical constituents. Hence, it can kill carpenter bees in contact. This works well if the oil is not diluted. You can also combine citrus oil with vinegar or other essential oils. Add enough drops of citrus oil to a mist bottle containing vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or water. Then, spray the mixture in infested areas. Evenings are the best time to spray because carpenter bees are active in the daytime. Make sure to repeat the process at least once a week, as citrus oil is volatile and does not last long. Secure your eyes and skin when applying the treatment, as citrus oil can be harsh on the skin. You should change infested wood parts after driving off the carpenter bees. yo get rid of the dead bees to avoid fungal rot. You can also call a bee exterminator if you notice carpenter bees returning to your home.
- As Deterrent/Repellent
A lower concentration of citrus oil can serve as a good repellent. Add 6-8 drops of citrus oil in a mist bottle containing water, alcohol, or vinegar. You can boil citrus peels in water instead and use them as a citrus spray. Apply the mixture before the onset of Spring to ward off looming carpenter bees. This will serve as a preventive measure to keep them away. You can also burn citrus oil-infused candles around your yard. Cover up pre-existing nest holes after treating them with citrus oil. This will aid to deter carpenter bees from reusing the spot at the onset of their breeding season.
Drawbacks of Citrus Oil Based Insecticide/Repellent
Despite their desirable properties, citrus oil insecticides have some shortcomings. Citrus essential oils are volatile in nature. So when applied to an infested surface, they can evaporate. Also, they leave no residues after evaporation. This implies that citrus essential oils may not last long, and need constant to be effective. Due to their organic nature, citrus oils are biodegradable. This limits their lasting effect as insecticides. For these reasons, advanced research has provided some solutions. Encapsulation of citrus oil in nanoparticles can extend their efficacy and reduce volatility. When they are applied in carpenter bees’ nests, they can easily be ingested. The water-soluble nanoparticles will dissolve, releasing the citrus oil in the carpenter bee. A disadvantage to this method is that it is lethal to the bees and non-target organisms may also fall victim.
Final Thoughts On Citrus Oil and Carpenter Bees
To save the environment and limit the use of chemical insecticides, you should choose org. Many studies prove that citrus essential oils can control carpenter bees. Also, they have served as a natural insecticide and insect repellent for decades. Citrus oil contains many compounds but the most abundant insecticidal component is limonene.
Cold pressing and steam distillation are common methods to extract citrus oil. But you can prepare a citrus spray at home by infusion. Since citrus oil is repulsive to carpenter bees, you can use it as a repellent to ward them off. Also, you can use a higher concentration of citrus oil to kill carpenter bees. Citrus oils leave no residue and may not last on treated surfaces. So research suggests that encapsulated ones will extend their efficacy.