Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Back in July 2009, I posted a blog on alternatives to insecticides. In that blog, I mentioned the bay laurel leaf and its wonderful properties for helping stem insect infestations. Here is a bit more on the subject.

The internet tells us that in the Middle Ages, bay leaves were believed to induce abortions and to have many magical qualities. They were once used to keep moths away, owing to the leaf's lauric acid content that gives it insecticidal properties. Bay leaves have many properties that make them useful for treating high blood sugar, migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers. Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic and stomachic properties. Bay oil, or oil of bays (oleum lauri) is used in liniments for bruises and sprains. Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds, called parthenolides, which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay leaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an antifungal and antibacterial, and has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic. (Wow! Who would have thought all that from a little bay leaf!?!)

The Greeks and Romans both ascribed a number of properties to the laurel tree. People were given laurel wreaths to commemorate feats, hence the term “resting on one's laurels,” and the leaves were also widely used in food flavoring and traditional medicine. Many Mediterranean dishes even today are made with laurel leaf seasoning. (Personally, I have recipes that call for bay laurel leaves, and without them the dish would definitely lack flavor. The one recipe that comes to mind immediately is minestrone soup.)

Somewhat to my surprise, I found that the world wide web is amass with information about the laurel leaf, or perhaps more familiar to you – the bay leaf. (It’s an interesting and worthwhile Google search!)

When my Mom was alive, I recall how we teased her about all the bay leaves she would have in her cupboards, drawers, on the counter, in the flour and sugar jars, and even under sinks. The garage was a bay leaf haven, too. I don’t know how it all came about, but she used these bay leaves in lieu of insecticides in the kitchen area. She hated bugs and would go to any extreme to avoid any creepy crawly. I need to tell you that, even living in Florida, she had no bugs in her abode!

I remembered this idea and my previous blog a few months ago as I have been fighting a long and drawn out battle with “shadow ants” in my kitchen. I don't know if that is the correct terminology, but these are those little tiny ants that are so small, you can barely see them. I tried absolutely everything from vinegar to insecticide sprays, to special ant traps and even brought some professional ant bait and insecticide back with me from Florida. They all worked! For about a week or so. The ants I had in my kitchen were so small that you could barely see them. I know they are harmless, but I, like my mother, didn’t want them or any other creepy crawly hanging out and getting comfortable in my kitchen.

Off to the grocery I go! I purchased a few bags of laurel (bay) leaves and set about imitating my mother’s plan of attack. I have laurel leaves everywhere in my kitchen cupboards, on the counters, and under the sink! I have laurel leaves and no more ants. This is like a miracle cure!

If you are pestered by creepy crawlies, you may want to consider decorating your kitchen with bay laurel leaves! Inexpensive, readily available, environmentally friendly, and they work! Change them out every 3 months or so.

Thanks, Mom.

Note: I actually have some photographs that I wanted to post, but Blogger just wouldn't cooperate.


  1. I hope you can post those pix eventually. I can't quite picture how to accessorize my decor with bay leaves. Are they on branches and tied together like dried flowers, or just scattered around? I appreciate this tip, though!

  2. Yes, some ideas on how to place them around the home would be great. In a small bowl? In a plastic baggie with holes? And where would one buy them in Mexico? At the market? Thanks for this great tip.

  3. I wonder if I could use them in my ongoing battle against the leaf cutters?

  4. The irony of using leaves to deter leaf cutters is not lost on me...lol.

  5. Thanks for the ideas. I have off-and-on ant problems in the kitchen. This sounds like an answer. My question is, do you have to spread the loose leaves around? How about putting them in small cloth bags or something like that, to keep things neater? I guess I am echoing Barb here. I'd love to hear some ideas about how to deploy this ant repellent.

  6. Marc, I like your idea of cloth bags. A person could probably use something with a loose weave, like cheesecloth. Cut some squares, stack a few together to create a slightly tighter weave to catch dry leaf crumbles, add some leaves, bring up the sides and secure with an elastic band. Kind of like a sachet. They'd stay relatively neat, could be tucked almost anywhere, and disposal would be easy.

  7. For those of you with ant problems if the bay leaves don't work… I had an influx of tiny and medium size ants in my kitchen… all over the place. The one thing I had handy for spraying counters was a spray bottle filled with half ammonia, half water. I sprayed walls, counters, cabinets, floor…everywhere the ants were running. Within a week I had 0 ants of any kind. After being gone for many weeks, I inadvertently brought in some on the dog's dinner dish, but spraying the area where those few were, the next day NONE, and none since. Sure beats that poisonous bug spray.