Fleas are a worldwide nuisance, and the internet is awash with recommendations on how to kill and repel them. For those who’d prefer to steer clear of pesticides, there are dozens of natural and organic remedies that are reported to work, one of which is rosemary.
But does rosemary really repel fleas and, if so, how can you use it to your advantage?
What are fleas?
Fleas are typically outdoor pests, but that doesn’t mean they can’t invade your house. These tiny insects feed on the blood of various animals, including pets, rodent pests, and other wildlife. If any of these flea-infested critters come indoors, flea eggs will fall from their coats and into your carpet, where they’ll eventually hatch into an army of hopping, biting bugs.
Fleas prefer to feed on animals, but they also bite humans.
Does rosemary keep fleas away?
Plenty of online sources suggest that the aroma of rosemary repels fleas. Though there is currently no scientific evidence to back this up, plenty of people claim to have seen results using this method. Using rosemary as a flea repellent is easy, safe, and inexpensive, so it may be worth trying out at home.
How to use rosemary to repel fleas at home
- Plant rosemary
Planting rosemary in your backyard can infuse the air with its scent and may help to keep fleas out of the vicinity. The fewer fleas there are in your backyard, the less likely they are to find their way indoors!
- Scatter rosemary powder on your carpets
Crush dried rosemary with a pestle and mortar and sprinkle the powder over your carpets, furniture, and around possible flea entry points.
- Soak cotton balls in rosemary oil
Soak cotton balls in rosemary oil and leave them around your house to repel fleas. Concentrate on areas where fleas may get in (such as around windows and door frames) or where you’ve seen high levels of flea activity.
- Sprinkle rosemary oil around flea entry points
You can also sprinkle drops of rosemary oil along door thresholds and window frames to create an invisible barrier against fleas.
Does rosemary oil kill fleas?
There is no evidence to suggest that rosemary kills fleas. Rosemary won’t get rid of fleas, and the plant and its oil should only be used to repel them as a preventative measure against infestations.
Can I use rosemary oil on my pet?
Rosemary is non-toxic to dogs and cats and is a common ingredient in pet shampoos.
However, you should never use undiluted rosemary oil on your pet, as this may cause an adverse reaction. Always proceed with caution when using any essential oils in a pet-owning household, as many are toxic to animals.
How to prevent a flea infestation
Rosemary may repel fleas and can be used as part of a preventative plan. However, the most effective pest prevention strategies have multiple lines of defense, so what else can you do to keep fleas out of your home?
Use a flea treatment on your pet
Most of the time, flea infestations are introduced to the home by the family pet. Fleas leap aboard your cat or dog while they are exploring outside, only to be carried into your house when your pet comes inside.
The best way to prevent a flea infestation, therefore, is to make sure your pets are protected. There are loads of different flea medications on the market, and many can be bought over the counter and administered at home. Flea treatments are especially important in the spring and summertime when fleas are most active, but medicating your pet all year round will give you complete protection from fleas.
Keep your house clean
Fleas and their eggs will drop from your pet’s coat into carpets and furnishings around your home and must be killed before they have a chance to breed.
Soap kills fleas so, if you notice bugs on your pet, get to work washing everything they have come into contact with.
You can wipe down washable surfaces with soapy water, and vacuum your carpets and soft furnishings to get rid of any lurking bugs.
Reduce your wildlife population
Pets are often the vehicle of choice for fleas, but that doesn’t mean the pet-free are safe from infestation. Fleas feed on a wide range of animal hosts, including rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and more. If you have recurrent flea infestations but no pets at home, chances are you have a lot of infested wildlife nearby.
Rodent infestations can be taken care of using traps and poisons, but other larger wildlife species may require professional removal. You can reduce unwanted wildlife populations in your backyard by removing any food sources (like pet food or bird feeders) and harborage sites (such as compost heaps, firewood stacks, and recycling boxes). Trim overgrown shrubs and grasses, and store household garbage in tightly sealed containers.
Keep your backyard tidy
Fleas prefer a shady, humid habitat, and may hide out in long grasses and overgrown shrubs during the day. Keep your garden trimmed and tidy to make it less flea-friendly to reduce their numbers.
Rosemary is one of many essential oils reported to repel fleas and other insects. Many claim that the aroma of rosemary is enough to keep fleas away from their houses, and both the herb and its oil can be used to repel pests. However, rosemary oil does not kill fleas, and shouldn’t be used to fight an active infestation.
Instead, rosemary should be used as part of an integrated pest prevention strategy. Other steps you can take to avoid a flea infestation include using regular flea treatments on any pets, keeping your garden trimmed and tidy, and tackling any rodent or wildlife problems.