Lavender is a hardy, evergreen perennial with upright silver-green, feathery foliage and vivid purple flowers. A member of the aromatic mint plant family, lavender presents a pungent, herbaceous aroma. In nature, the scent wards off predatory insects and disease. The crisp, floral fragrance is very pleasant to humans but noxious to insects. When insects smell lavender, they quickly depart. As such, aromatic lavender is often employed to repel bothersome insects, including bedbugs. Many commercial bedbug repellents contain lavender essential oil.

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Bedbugs live in pillows and mattresses.

Bedbug Description

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Bedbugs often inhabit carpeting and rugs.

For centuries, cultures around the world have been plagued by bedbugs. Bedbugs are tiny non-flying, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Their favorite meal is human blood. Bedbugs are reddish-brown and about the size of a tomato seed. They are often mistaken for ticks. Bedbugs were all but eradicated in the United States by the early 1940s but remained prevalent in other countries. Since the mid-1990s, bedbugs have started to reappear in the United States. The rise in infestations is attributed to increased foreign travel, immigration and the exchange of used bedding, mattresses and clothing. Bedbugs have also developed resistance to chemicals used for eradication.

Bedbug Habitat

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Wash bedding frequently to discourage bedbug infestations.

Although bedbugs are most commonly found in Third World countries in locations with poor sanitation, they can inhabit homes that are exceptionally clean. Bedbugs are commonly found in structures with a high turnover of nightly visitors. Locations that experience infestations include homeless shelters, dormitories, hotels, motels, apartments and hospitals. Bedbugs derive their name from their habit of infesting beds where human sleep. Bedbugs may be found in carpeting, behind baseboards, in stored blankets, sleeping bags, suitcases, clothing and linens.

Prevention

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Lavender is safe to use around small children and family pets.

When traveling, sprinkle dried lavender in your suitcase or apply several drops of lavender essential oil to a cotton ball and tuck it inside bedrolls, pillows and knapsacks. Lavender essential oil will not kill bedbugs, but when generously applied to skin before bedtime, it may prevent travelers from being bitten when sleeping. Mix 20 to 30 drops of lavender essential oil with 1 oz. of fractionated coconut oil. Rub on skin to prevent bites. Therapeutic-grade lavender essential oil can also be rubbed directly on the skin to relieve the pain and itch of a bedbug bite. Other preventative measures: Avoid bringing used mattresses, upholstered furniture or carpets into your home. When traveling, do not place suitcases or backpacks on the bed or floor where bedbugs can crawl into your belongs and be transported back to your home.

Lavender Oil for Household Cleaning

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Bedbugs are carried into homes in suitcases that travel to foreign destinations.

Keeping your home clean will help prevent a bedbug infestation. Lavender essential oil, obtained by steam distillation of the lavender flowers, helps repel bedbugs, ticks, mites, spiders, cockroaches, mosquitoes and fleas. Wash bed linens in hot water. Add 30 to 40 drops of lavender essential oil to the final rinse water. Dry at a high temperature. Linens will have a clean, fresh smell and be free of bedbugs and dust mites. Add half an ounce of lavender essential oil to 1 cup of baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture on household carpets and rugs. Allow the mixture to remain on the fabric for one hour. Remove dust, debris, bedbugs and dirt by vacuuming thoroughly. Remove the vacuum bag and dispose of properly. Mix 30 to 40 drops of lavender essential oil with a cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on bed frames and baseboards. Wipe surfaces clean with a dry, soft cloth.