Citrus fruits contain ingredients that kill or repel pests. Since the ingredients form naturally in the fruit, citrus peels are safe for use as insecticides. Many companies make flea shampoos, medications and insecticides for gardens using the ingredients in citrus fruit. Make a homemade spray, cleaner or compost to rid pets, homes and gardens of pests without using harsh or dangerous chemicals. Citrus fruit repels ants, fleas, fungus, gnats, aphids and other pests.
Citrus fruits contain limonene, found in the rind. Oil extracted from the peels contains the limonene, making it the main component in citrus oils. Limonene is a natural insect repellent. Citrus peels contain the extra pest killer linalool, also obtained by extracting oil from the rind. Pests hate limonene and linalool and will avoid areas treated with them. While it may not kill adult fleas, limonene does paralyze them. A good washing will destroy the unsuspecting fleas.
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Place citrus peels around the garden to ward off annoying pests. Sprinkling orange zest around the picnic area will deter mosquitoes and flies. Make an insect spray by steeping the peels from one orange in 2 cups of boiling water for at least 24 hours. Pour the liquid into a squirt bottle and go after those pests. To get rid of fleas, spray the natural insecticide around a room, especially on carpets, furniture and pet beds. Let the insecticide sit a few minutes and then vacuum the areas to pick up the fleas.
The oil from citrus fruits is loaded with limonene. Extract the oil from the citrus rinds and use it to make insecticides whenever needed. A couple of small drops of citrus oil is all that is required to make insecticide spray. Sprinkling diluted oil around gardens repels pests. Keep the oil on hand and mix insecticides whenever a problem arises. To extract the oil, dry and grind the peels and leave them to soak in grain alcohol. Strain the mixture and leave the alcohol to evaporate. The leftover liquid is citrus oil. Invest in an oil press if you plan to extract oils on a regular basis.
Limonene is nontoxic, but may cause skin irritation for people with sensitive skin. The skin has its own natural oils, and when limonene touches the skin, it removes them. Wear gloves when handling citrus oils. High doses of citrus oils may harm pets, causing muscle weakness and making them dizzy. Do not wash or coat pets with orange oils unless diluted first.