How Long Does Cedar Repel Bugs?

We’ve written several articles recently on cedar wood, including how well cedar stains and whether you can paint cedar white.  We like cedar and have worked with it on a number of occasions – fencing, outdoor furniture, for instance.  Cedar has some interesting and compelling properties that make it a good choice for these uses.

Among them are its durability, its aroma, its natural beauty, and the fact it is a renewable resource.  There are a variety of cedar species, the most common of which for woodworking are these five:

  • Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) …
  • Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) …
  • Spanish Cedar (Cedrela oderata L.) …
  • Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) …
  • Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Palicourea croceoides)

Red cedar trees can grow 40 – 50 feet tall and can live for between 100 – 300 years if left undisturbed.  Some cedar species can grow taller, and some grow considerably smaller and range in age from up to 100 years.  Cedar can also grow 12 – 24 inches per year, although some can grow 25+ inches per year. 

Key Points:

  • It depends – which cedar, which bugs, weather; if using cedar mulch, for instance, in a warm climate, plan to replace or add more every 3-4 months for better effectiveness.
  • It works well on many bugs, although we wish it worked better on mosquitoes than it does.
  • A cedar closet, or cedar chips and hangars, will protect your clothes from moths for winter storage.

True cedars are a type of tree, genus Cedrus, family Pinaceae, that are native to the Middle and Far East and are different from the scale-leaved false cedars native to the Pacific Northwest.

True cedars have evergreen needles in dense clusters on stout, woody pegs. They have barrel-shaped, upright cones and grow well in a variety of soil and climatic conditions. The wood is durable and decay-resistant.

There are only four types of true cedars: Cedrus atlantica, Cedrus brevifolia, Cedrus deodara, and Cedrus libani. For our purposes today, though, we are concerned only with the 5 most common to us woodworkers for both indoor and outdoor use.

To that end, among other qualities prized in cedar, is its ability to repel insects and resist rot and decay.  Let’s look a bit deeper into these today.

Will Cedar Repel Bugs?

Cedar Board

It is one of its desirable traits that cedar wood does repel bugs. The wood contains natural oils that have a strong scent that insects find unpleasant. This scent can help to deter a variety of insects, including moths, termites, ants, and cockroaches. Cedar wood can be used in a variety of ways to repel bugs, including:

  • Cedar mulch: Cedar mulch can be used around the foundation of your home to help deter termites and other insects. It can also be used in flower beds and other areas of your yard to help keep insects away from plants.
  • Cedar vs Moths: Cedar chips and hangers made of cedar are often used in closets, cedar chests, and drawers to repel moths away from clothes.  Just a few cedar chips can do the trick in your clothes, drawers, and closets, too.  Even better, a cedar closet will work wonders battling moths on behalf of the clothes hanging there.
  • Cedar oil: Cedar oil can be used to make a natural insect-repellent spray. Simply add a few drops of cedar oil to water and spray it on areas where you want to deter insects.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of cedar wood as an insect repellent can vary depending on the type of insect and the specific application.

For example, cedar mulch may be more effective at deterring termites than it is at deterring mosquitoes. Additionally, the effectiveness of cedar wood will decrease over time as the oils evaporate. Therefore, it may be necessary to reapply cedar mulch or cedar oil on a regular basis to maintain its effectiveness.

Here are some additional tips for using cedar wood to repel bugs:

  • Use fresh cedar wood chips: Cedar wood that is freshly cut or milled will have the strongest scent.
  • Place cedar in areas where insects are likely to be found: This includes areas around your home, such as the foundation, windows, and doors. It also includes areas where you store food and other items that insects may be attracted to, such as pantries and closets.
  • Replace cedar products on a regular basis: As the oils evaporate, the effectiveness of cedar wood will decrease. Therefore, it is important to replace cedar mulch, blocks, and hangers on a regular basis.

Overall, cedar wood is a natural and effective way to repel a variety of insects. By following these tips, you can help to keep your home and yard free of unwanted pests.

What Insects Can Be Repelled By Cedar?

Cedar wood is known to repel many types of bugs, including:

  • Termites: Cedar wood is a natural termite repellent. The oils in cedar wood are toxic to termites and can help to prevent them from infesting your home.
  • Ants: Cedar wood can also help to repel ants. The strong scent of cedar wood can deter ants from entering your home or yard.
  • Cockroaches: Cedar wood can also help to repel cockroaches. The oils in cedar wood can irritate the cockroaches and make them less likely to come into contact with it.
  • Moths: Cedar wood is a popular choice for storing clothes and other items that are susceptible to moth damage. The oils in cedar wood can help to repel moths and prevent them from laying eggs in your belongings.
  • Ticks: Cedar wood can also help to repel ticks. The oils in cedar wood can make it difficult for ticks to attach to your skin.
  • Fleas: Cedar wood can also help to repel fleas. The oils in cedar wood can make it difficult for fleas to survive and reproduce.

Again, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of cedar wood in repelling these types of bugs can vary depending on the type of insect and the specific application.

Does Cedar Contain Tannins?

Yes, cedar wood contains tannins. Tannins are a type of polyphenol that is found in many plants, including cedar trees. Tannins have a variety of properties, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. They also give cedar wood its characteristic smell and flavor.

The tannin content of cedar wood varies depending on the type of cedar and the growing conditions. Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and western red cedar (Thuja plicata) contain the highest levels of tannins.

These two types of cedar are often used for making cedar chests, which are used to store clothing and other items. The tannins in cedar wood help to protect the items from insects and mold.

Tannins can also be extracted from cedar wood and used to make a variety of products, including natural dyes, inks, and adhesives. Tannins are also used in some traditional medicines.

Here are some of the benefits of cedar wood that are attributed to its tannin content:

  • Antimicrobial: Tannins have antimicrobial properties, which means they can help to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. This makes cedar wood a good choice for use in applications where it is important to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, such as in furniture, decks, and siding.
  • Antioxidant: Tannins are antioxidants, which means they can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Tannins have anti-inflammatory properties, which means they can help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a natural immune response, but it can become chronic if it is not properly managed. Chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of a variety of health problems, such as arthritis and cancer.

Overall, cedar wood is a versatile material that has a variety of benefits. The tannins in cedar wood are responsible for many of these benefits, including their antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

This is not to suggest the ingestion of cedar, of course.  But, cedar has many qualities that are helpful in the home while at the same time presenting no harm to a home’s environment.  It kills or at least inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus, mold, and mildew, all of which can be harmful in a home’s environment and to our respiratory tract.

What Is It in Cedar That Repels Bugs?

Closeup of Cedar Board Stained

Cedar contains a number of natural chemicals that repel insects, including thujone, a-terpinene, and limonene. These chemicals have a strong, unpleasant smell that insects find offensive. They can also interfere with the insects’ sense of smell, making it difficult for them to find food or mates.

The effectiveness of cedar as an insect repellent varies depending on the type of insect and the concentration of the cedar oil. In general, cedar is most effective against moths, beetles, and ants. It is less effective against mosquitoes and other flying insects.

Cedar can be used in a variety of ways to repel insects. It can be used as mulch, in furniture, or in essential oil form. Cedar mulch is a popular choice for gardens and landscaping, as it helps to control pests and improve the appearance of the area. Cedar furniture can be used indoors or outdoors, and it can help to keep pests away from your belongings.

Cedar essential oil can be used in diffusers or added to sprays to create a natural insect repellent.

If you are looking for a natural way to repel insects, cedar is a good option, a natural pesticide that does no harm to the environment. It is effective against a variety of pests, and it has a pleasant smell that many people enjoy.

Here are some additional tips for using cedar to repel insects:

  • Use fresh, untreated cedar. Cedar that has been treated with chemicals may not be as effective at repelling insects.
  • Apply cedar mulch in a thick layer. The thicker the layer, the more effective the cedar will be at repelling insects and keeping bugs at bay.
  • Reapply cedar mulch every few months or more often as needed.
  • Use cedar essential oil in a diffuser or add it to a spray bottle. The essential oil will evaporate and create a cloud of cedar scent that will help to repel insects.
  • Place cedar blocks or cedar chips in areas where insects are a problem. The cedar will release its scent and help to keep insects away.

What is Thujone?

We mentioned thujone and figured we ought to expand on it just a little since it does contribute to the insect repellency of cedar.

Thujone is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in a number of plants, including wormwood, sage, and cedar. It is a volatile oil that has a strong, bitter taste and a pine-like odor.

Thujone has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, including its ability to treat parasites, fevers, and stomach problems, and when used properly is not a harmful chemical.

In the 19th century, thujone was used as a flavoring agent in absinthe, a popular alcoholic beverage. However, the high levels of thujone in absinthe were linked to a number of health problems, including seizures and hallucinations. In the early 20th century, absinthe was banned in many countries, including the United States.

Today, thujone is still used in some herbal products, but it is typically found in very low concentrations. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set a limit of 10 parts per million (ppm) of thujone in food and beverages. This limit is based on the amount of thujone that is considered safe for human consumption.

Thujone is a neurotoxin, which means that it can damage the nervous system. In high doses, thujone can cause seizures, hallucinations, and even death. However, the FDA has determined that the amount of thujone found in food and beverages is not harmful to human health.

That having been said, it is one of the chemicals in cedar that acts as a natural pesticide and contributes to insect repellency.  

What Determines How Long Cedar Will Repel Insects Generally?

The length of time that cedar wood will repel bugs depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of cedar wood
  • The size of the cedar wood
  • The location of the cedar wood
  • The weather conditions
  • The presence of other pests

In general, cedar wood will repel bugs for several months. However, the effectiveness of cedar wood may decrease over time, especially if the cedar wood is exposed to the elements.

Here are some tips for maximizing the effectiveness of cedar wood as a bug repellent:

  • Use untreated cedar wood. Treated cedar wood may contain chemicals that could be harmful to people and pets.
  • Choose the right type of cedar wood. Some types of cedar wood, such as red cedar, are more effective at repelling bugs than others.
  • Cut the cedar wood to the desired size. Smaller pieces of cedar wood will release their scent more quickly than larger pieces.
  • Place the cedar wood in areas where bugs are likely to be present. This could include near food storage areas, pet beds, and entryways.
  • Replace the cedar wood every few months or more often if it becomes damaged or wet.

Cedar wood is a natural and effective way to repel bugs. By following these tips, you can maximize the effectiveness of cedar wood and keep your home and yard bug-free.

Here is some additional information about cedar wood and its bug-repelling properties:

  • Cedar wood contains a natural chemical called thujone, which is toxic to many types of insects.
  • Cedar wood is also a good absorbent, which helps to remove moisture from the air. This can make it less hospitable to insects, which need moisture to survive.
  • Cedar wood is a durable material that can withstand the elements, making it a good choice for outdoor use.

How Long Does Cedar Insect Repellancy Last On Us?

Cedar Board

The duration of cedar insect repellency depends on a number of factors, including the type of cedar product, the concentration of cedar oil, the weather conditions, and the individual’s body chemistry. In general, cedar insect repellants will last for several hours, but they may need to be reapplied more often in hot, humid weather or if the individual is sweating heavily.

Here is a table of the approximate duration of cedar insect repellency from different products:

Cedarwood essential oil2-4 hours
Cedarwood soap3-6 hours
Cedarwood lotion4-8 hours
Cedarwood spray6-12 hours

It is important to note that these are just estimates, and the actual duration of cedar insect repellency may vary. It is always best to reapply cedar insect repellant more frequently than necessary, especially in hot, humid weather or if the individual is sweating heavily.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of cedar insect repellency:

  • Apply cedar insect repellant to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Reapply cedar insect repellant every 2-4 hours or more often as needed.
  • Avoid getting cedar insect repellant in your eyes or on your lips.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after applying cedar insect repellant.

If you are allergic to cedar, you should avoid using cedar insect repellants. There are a number of other natural insect repellents available that are safe for people with allergies.

Repels bugs, resists rot and decay, smells nice, works well both indoors and outdoors, even works on our skin, and takes staining well – – what’s not to like about cedar?  Just don’t paint it white.

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