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Why Use Essential Oils in Pesticides?

Bugs Hate Many Essential Plant Oils!

Botanical insecticides utilize natural plant oils as their active ingredients. There are many advantages to using botanicals rather than synthetic (man-made) pest control products. Naturally extracted pest control products break down quickly in the environment, resulting in no harmful residues in and around your home, and less risk to the beneficial insects that we want to keep around.

Humans aren’t the only ones who hate bugs! Many plants hate them, too, and will do anything to keep them away. Many natural plant oils (e.g., lemongrass, mint, clove, basil, lavender, sage, etc.) act as a plant’s defense against bugs.

Natural plant oils get a bad rap when it comes to “effectiveness.” Many people think that because these oils are natural, they aren’t potent. Think again.

Plant Oils Can Be Inherently Fragrant

Most botanical essential oils are inherently fragrant. Think about the spice rack in your kitchen. These fragrances are often overwhelming to bugs. For example, spiders, fleas, cockroaches, ants, and flies hate peppermint oil, as do other pests. Lemongrass oil is a close cousin to citronella oil, and mosquitoes, moths, fleas, fruit flies, and other insects avoid it at all costs. 

Cinnamon oil is a powerful deterrent against silverfish and other creepy crawlies. In fact, cinnamon essential oil is so overwhelming to ants that it messes with their neuroreceptors, which keeps them from sending signals to their fellow ants. They’ll get frustrated at being unable to communicate, and just relocate to another area.

Click here for a list of essential oils used in Maggie’s Farm products.

Why use essential oil in pesticides?

Why do many Maggie’s Farm products have fragrances?

At Maggie’s Farm, we use such botanical oils in our products, to help you in the ongoing battle against bugs. Natural plant oils we use include cinnamon, peppermint, wintergreen, rosemary, lemongrass, and clove. These same plant oils are also used in foods and other common household products for flavor and fragrance purposes. 

We never use any artificial fragrances in Maggie’s Farm products, including vanillin (artificial vanilla scent) which some companies use in their so-called natural pest products.

Because of botanical oils’ inherent fragrance, we know that some people can be sensitive to them and that others may simply not like certain fragrances. We intentionally formulate our products to make these fragrances as pleasant, soft, and non-lingering as possible. We recommend testing the product in a small area before using over a larger area indoors.

Note that the fragrances we use are not harmful and generally dissipate quickly after product use. 

How long will it take for the fragrance in Maggie’s Farm indoor spray products to dissipate inside my home?

The length of time that the fragrance lingers depends on several things, including: 

  • How much product was used
  • Where the product was used
  • If the product was applied to any absorbent surfaces (e.g., carpet, upholstery, etc.)
  • The relative humidity in the area sprayed
  • The amount of air circulation in the area sprayed, etc.

 Best Home Bugs Spray 

If you find that the fragrance from one of our products is too strong for you or lingers too long, there are some things you can do to minimize it: 

  1. Ventilate the room. Open up the windows and use fans to circulate the air. 
  2. Thoroughly wipe up any excess product, especially excess residues on hard surfaces. Use absorbent materials (we recommend baking soda products such as Arm & Hammer® Odor Eliminator for Carpet & Room, Glad® Carpet & Room, etc.) to pull up remaining product on carpet, fabric, and upholstery. 
  3. If fragrance persists, try using an enzymatic product (e.g., Woolite® Pet Oxygen Odor and Stain Remover, Out® Stain & Odor Remover, Endust® Floor Care Pet Solutions, to name a few) to dilute the fragrance a bit. 
  4. You may also try using an odor-counteracting product (e.g., Febreze® and other products containing beta-cyclodextrin). Follow the instructions on the product label and allow enough time for odor to dissipate. Vacuum up excess material after application. Repeat application if the fragrance continues. 
  5. Clean the area with detergent and water as a final step to remove any remaining residues.

Mosquito Control Products

Can I safely use Maggie’s Farm indoor products around children and pets?

The ingredients used in our line of EPA-exempt products are all classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as “minimum-risk,” and are approved as food additives or classified as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the US Food & Drug Administration.

All Maggie’s Farm products can be used safely around family and pets when used as directed. The only Maggie’s Farm product that is for applying directly to a person or pet is Maggie’s Farm Natural Insect Repellent. Before using our Natural Insect Repellent on humans or animals, apply to a small area to make sure no reaction occurs. Natural essential oils contain components that some people are allergic to. While reactions are very uncommon, you want to be sure before you apply to a large area of skin. 

It is important to keep in mind that some pets, just like humans, may not like the fragrance of some plant oils, and may stay away from areas treated until the fragrance dissipates.

Do NOT directly spray your pets with plant-oil-based products that are not labeled for on-animal applications, and avoid applying them to areas where pets frequent, like on or around pet bedding. 

Don’t ever apply essential oils directly to cats unless your vet says it’s okay. Cats (and especially kittens) are sensitive to some botanical oils, and especially to Wintergreen oil. When using a product with Wintergreen oil in your home, keep your cat away from the treated area until the spray dries. The Maggie’s Farm products that contain wintergreen oils are Maggie’s Farm Home Bug Spray, Maggie’s Farm Spider & Insect Dust, Maggie’s Farm Mosquito Fogger, Maggie's Farm Ant & Roach Killer, Maggie's Farm Flying Insect Killer, and Maggie’s Farm Yard Bug Spray.

As an added precaution, we recommend that caged birds be removed from rooms and fish tanks need to be covered before applying any Maggie’s Farm product until the fragrance dissipates. 

Check out our article on safe application around pets here. If you have additional questions or concerns about using any Maggie’s Farm product around your pets, please call us at 816-379-5387.

How do you like Maggie’s Farm product fragrances? What suggestions do you have in regards to pest control around your children and pets? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.


Home Bug Spray Flying Insect Killer  Natural Insect Repellent


For scientifically-proven, effective pest control that is family-friendly and healthier for the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective family of green pest control products available. Find out why “Life’s Better On The Farm!”



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