Does Cinnamon Attract or Repel Insects?

Here’s whether cinnamon attracts or repels insects.

In short: it repels insects.

So if you want to know how cinnamon repels insects and how to use it to repel insects, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right in!

Table of Contents

Cinnamon Repels Insects

Insects are out there, hiding, ready to rob your precious blood or share with you a disease or two. 

You cannot kill them all, but you do have some options:

  • Avoidance. 
  • Kill them with insecticides. 
  • Cover spaces with screens or fine nets. 
  • Repel them with chemical pest sprays.
  • Create natural repellants and insecticides.
Mosquito on insect net close up..

All of these methods have some limitations:

  • Who wants to stay indoors shaking in fear of insects? So avoidance is not the best option.
  • Most insect sprays these days contain insecticides that are equally dangerous to humans. Moreover, they kill beneficial insects such as honey bees, ladybirds (ladybugs), and other pollinators.
  • Screens and fine-nets are not always practical to use outdoors.
  • Insect repellents come with different odors and are expensive, too.

Nature to the Rescue: The Benefits of Cinnamon

Nature might be able to lend a helping hand. Many natural spice trees and herbs have the ability to repel insects. Cinnamon is one of them. 

The cinnamon tree is a great blessing of nature. It’s benefits are:

  • Used in coloring
  • Creates a refreshing tea
  • It can deaden the pain from insect bites
  • It as medical benefits 
  • Ancient Egyptians used it during mummification
A cinnamon tree.

Cinnamon was once so expensive that the traders kept its production hidden for centuries in order to keep the price high. 

Action of Cinnamon

Most insect repellants contain certain aromatic compounds. These aromatic compounds produce a pungent odor that insects don’t like. 

Cinnamon has a bucket of aromatic oils. There are over 80 different aromatic compounds present in different parts of the cinnamon plant, including compounds such as:

  • Cinnamaldehyde 
  • Cinnamyl acetate
  • Copane 
  • Camphor 
  • Eugenol

These are all very effective against microbes. They work by altering the composition of the cellular envelope of bacteria. 

Bacteria under microscope.

The change in the cellular membrane blocks the entry of food into the cell, which causes the bacteria to starve to death. 

Many bacteria have been tested for the effectiveness of cinnamon oil, including:

  • SalmonellaEscherichia coli 
  • Micrococcus

The Effect of Cinnamon on Different Insects

These are the effects of cinnamon on different insects: 

Mosquitoes

Macro of mosquito (Aedes aegypti).

Mosquitoes are everywhere:

  • In your yard 
  • The local park
  • City streets
  • At the beach 

The good news is cinnamaldehyde, and cinnamyl acetate present in cinnamon oil have been proven to kill mosquito larvae even at a very low concentration in extensive studies. 

In another study, cinnamaldehyde showed repellant and toxic effects against Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes responsible for malaria and dengue fever.

Wasps

Wasp macro.

Wasps can be effectively and organically repelled by using cinnamon oil.

Cinnamon oil contains the eugenol essential oil, which acts as a repellant and can deter wasps from egg-laying.  

Termites

Selective focus of the small termite on decaying timber. The termite on the ground is searching for food to feed the larvae in the cavity.

Termites have been a nightmare for structures, bookshelves, and furniture for centuries. They eat cellulose and lignin in wood and paper, leading to the destruction of all wood-based products. 

Is there any plant or organic product that is unaffected by termites? 

Yes! 

Cinnamon is one of them. Cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and alpha-terpineol extracted from cinnamon oil have been proven to have excellent anti-termite properties. 

So, have you started putting cinnamon powder in your books? 

Fire Ants

Macro red ant on a leaf.

The cinnamon oil components are repellent to insects but are toxic to some of them too. This is the case with fire ants. 

Red fire ants are an agricultural pest because they damage the seeds sown in the field. 

In one study, the cinnamaldehyde in the cinnamon oil was found to kill red fire ants.

Other Agricultural Pests

Male fruit fly (Drosophila Melanogaster) on a blade of grass.

Burning cinnamon leaves and bark in orchards and gardens have proven to be very effective against oak nut weevils

Cinnamon oil has also been proven toxic to rice moths and Mediterranean fruit fly eggs. 

Stored-Grain Pests

Rice bags.

There is an ancient practice of keeping neem and cinnamon leaves in rice and grain bags in Asian countries to deter insect infestation. It is very effective. 

The basic science behind this is that the essential oil components of cinnamon leaves are extremely toxic to many insects, including:

  • Rice weevils
  • Angoumois grain moth
  • Red flour beetle 
  • Indian meal moth
  • Confused flour moth
  • Pulse beetle  

Lice

3d rendered illustration of a head louse.

You may not have lice in your beautiful hair, but that may not be true for the animals around you. 

Lice can harm their health. However, not everyone can afford to buy expensive insecticides for animals. 

Cinnamon oil has been proven to be extremely effective against lice. In a study cinnamon oil killed lice and three different harmful flies which attack ungulates. 

Mites

3d rendered illustration of a house dust mite.

In another study, cinnamon oil displayed a very strong killing effect against the poultry red mite and house dust mite. 

How to Use Cinnamon Against Insects?

You can use cinnamon in a variety of ways:

  1. Burn a candle along with some cinnamon sticks while sitting outdoors. 
  2. Sprinkle cinnamon powder around picnic food items.
  3. Add some cinnamon sticks to your potted plants to kill mosquito larvae during the rainy seasons to avoid dengue and malaria.
  4. Poultry farmers sometimes burn and keep cinnamon sticks outside open poultry sheds to deter ticks. 
  5. It was common practice to burn cinnamon along with other natural ingredients to produce smoke that kills bacteria and harmful insects.
Cinnamon powder.

Insecticide has been proven to work by four different methods:

  • Repellant 
  • Deterrent
  • Toxin 
  • Growth regulator 

The bottom line is that cinnamon has all these properties. It contains essential oil components that can be used as an:

  • Insect repellent
  • Insect poison
  • Mosquito larva killer 

It is cheap, readily available, and has minimal side effects for humans if used in small quantities.