Let’s start off with discussing the essential oils that were used in a recent study. First on the list will be lemongrass. Lemongrass is originally from India and Sri Lanka. It is an important medicinal and culinary herb in South and Central America, South East Asia, and the Caribbean, it is widely known as “fever grass.” India’s Ayurvedic medical tradition, for instance, has long used it to treat cholera and fevers. Lemongrassis best known for its efficiency to repel insects such as mosquitoes and fleas. However, there is more to this oil than using it as an insecticide. In aromatherapy skin care it can be used to tone and tighten the skin.
Next, will be peppermint. The plant is indigenous to Europe and the Middle East but is also now widespread in cultivation in many regions of the world. Peppermint essential oils have been used by ancient civilizations for perfume, headaches and soothe upset stomachs. Today, peppermint oil is used for the common cold, cough, inflammation of the mouth and throat, sinus infections, and respiratory infections. It is also used for digestive problems, cramps of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, upset stomach, diarrhea, menstrual problems, preventing spasms during endoscopy procedures, and as a stimulant. It is also well known for repelling bugs.
Last but not least is lavender. Lavender essential oilhas been used for over 2,500 years for medicinal and religious purposes. Today, lavender happens to be the most used oil in the world. It can be beneficial for reducing anxiety and emotional stress, heals burns and wounds, improves sleep, restores skin complexion and reduces acne, slows the aging process with powerful antioxidants, improves eczema and psoriasis and alleviates headaches. Lavender not only works to repel bugs but also prevents the spread of infection caused by the bite.
Let’s do a little research on the flies that were used in the study. The housefly (also known as common housefly), Musca domestica is a gray insect with four dark stripes running lengthwise on the thorax which is the chest and is located between the neck and the abdomen. It is the most common of all domestic flies and accounts for about 91% of all flies in most homes. It feeds on and breeds in decaying matter, human waste and food, and is considered a pest that can carry serious diseases such as food poisoning, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, paratyphoid, shigellosis, and anthrax.
Conventional methods for housefly control include chemical insecticides. It has been reported that houseflies are building a resistance towards these chemicals. These insecticides may have toxic side effects to humans so botanical insecticides are becoming a more popular alternative such as essential oils.
Researchers determined to study the effect of essential oils from herbal plants to control houseflies. They studied 20 essential oils which were extracted by steam hydro-distillation and prepared as 1, 5, and 10% solutions in ethyl alcohol. All formulations were kept at room temperature until tested. The housefly species Musca domestica were used in this study.
The results were lemongrass, peppermint and lavender essential oils were the most effective at a 10% concentration level and showed a 100% knockdown at 30 minutes and 60 minutes. After 24 hours of exposure, these oils caused 100% mortality among the flies.
The authors concluded that “This study reveals lemongrass, peppermint and lavender essential oils have the potential to control housefly populations and should be further studied for field applications.”
To be able to use essential oils instead of chemical insecticides is great news!