Lavender for Insect Control in Olive Groves
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Christine Lacroix
Posted on: February 19, 2002

I am wondering if you have any information at all on the effectiveness of lavender planted among olive groves as a deterrent to the Dacus fly. (Theoretically, the fly would be repelled by the strong smell of the lavender.)

We do not have any information on this use of lavender.

The effectiveness of herbs as insect repellents when grown with other crops is controversal. There is plenty of anecdotal information about this role of ‘companion’ crops but hard scientific evidence is hard to come by except in a few cases.

Even if there is a theoretical basis for this use of lavender in olive groves, perhaps from laboratory trials using lavender essential oil, that does not mean that growing lavender as a companion crop will work. In aromatic herbs such as lavender the presumed repellent constituents are the volatile oils and any repellent effect would require that the oils be volatilized to the air at the time when the pests are vunerable. For many aromatic herbs, the oils do not volatilize until the plants are brushed, trampled upon, or cut. And as the most fragrant part of lavender is the flower, flowering would have to occur at the right times of the pest’s natural cycle.

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