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Eastern Red Cedar | Scientific Report

Benefits of Cedar

The benefits of cedar are not "old wives' tales." In fact, many homeowners today are rediscovering the wisdom of their grandmother who had a cedar chest to protect her "valuables." At CedarSafe, we know she was ahead of her time and absolutely correct. However, only Aromatic Eastern Redcedar is scientifically proven to repel pests such as roaches, silverfish and moths. That's why we only produce 100% Aromatic Eastern Redcedar closet linings to protect your valuable possessions.

Check out the details of the entomology study below to learn not only about how our Aromatic Eastern Redcedar repels insect pests but also about how the study was measured and interpreted.

Repellency of Aromatic Eastern Redcedar to Urban Pests
by Arthur G. Appel, Ph.D. Department of Entomology
Auburn University, Alabama

Abstract | Insects & Apparatus | Toxicity Testing | Analysis | Results & Discussion


The repellency of Aromatic Eastern Redcedar wood was evaluated against German, Blattella germanica, and brownbanded, Supella longipalpa, cockroaches and the firebrat, Thermobia domestica. Although not toxic, the cedar wood was significantly (α ≤ 0.05) repellent to each of the species tested. The greater the surface area of cedar paneling, the greater the degree of repellency.

Cedar and cedar wood products have long been considered useful for the protection of clothing, especially woolens, against a number of urban pests. Several studies have indicated that cedar oil vapors retard the development and kill clothes moths and carpet beetles (Huddle and Mills, 1952; Laudani and Clark, 1954). Due to the increased use of synthetic fibers, the incidence of fabric pests and their damages are on the decline. The repellent nature of cedar products has not, however, been investigated against other important household pests such as cockroaches and silverfish.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the repellent effects of cedar on the two most important indoor cockroach pests (MAMPE, 1972; EBELING, 1975), the German, Blatella germanica, and the brownbanded, Supella longipalpa, and against a major silverfish pest, the firebrat, Thermobia domestica. Both cockroach species are found worldwide primarily in apartments, low-income housing, restaurants and hospitals. The effects of cedar vapor concentration were also investigated by use of various surface areas of cedar paneling.

Insects and Apparatus

Cockroaches and firebrats were obtained from Auburn University cultures that had been maintained at 25 ± 2° C, 50 ± 10% relative humidity, exposed to an irregular photoperiod and supplied food and water ad lib. Adult male cockroaches and adult firebrats were used for the experiment.

Repellency was measured with a standard "Ebeling Choice Box" as described by Ebeling et al. (1966). Briefly, the choice box is a 35-cm-square wooden box, 10 cm tall, with a tempered masonite floor. The box is divided into two equal compartments by a central wall that has a 13-mm-diameter hole near the top center that allows the insects to move between the compartments.

Both compartments are covered with sheets of transparent Plexiglass to allow the insects to be observed. One compartment is covered with an opaque sheet to maintain darkness. Treatments are applied to this dark compartment, and insects are released into the light compartment where there is food and water. Since the test insects are negatively phototaxic, they tend to move into the dark compartment during the photophase. Treatments are applied to the dark compartment and the repellency of the treatments measured as the number of insects remaining in the light.

Samples of newly made Aromatic Eastern Redcedar paneling (7 mm thick) were obtained from Giles and Kendall, Inc. To test the effects of the cedar, the dark compartments of choice boxes were treated with one of the following: the floor was covered with a cedar panel (the 459 cm2), three sides of the compartment were covered (410.4 cm2), the floor, sides and top were covered (1,328.4 cm2), and a control with no paneling. Test insects were acclimated in the light side of the boxes for 12 hours before being allowed to enter the dark side. The live and dead insects in each compartment were recorded daily for 14 days and approximately at 11:00 a.m.

Toxicity Testing

Continuous exposure tests were performed to evaluate the toxicity of cedar paneling to cockroaches and firebrats. Ten groups of six individuals of each species were confined to cedar panels with an inverted 9-cm-diameter glass petri dish cover that had been coated on the interior sides with petroleum jelly to keep the insects in constant contact with the panel. Mortality was recorded daily for seven days. Control insects were confined in glass petri dishes without access to cedar, mortality was similarly recorded daily.


Data were converted to percentages and analyzed by nonlinear regression (see Mack and Backman 1986) using the SAS NLIN procedure (SAS Institute 1982). Performance indices that combined repellency with toxicity were calculated as follows:

Performance Index = 1-[Number Alive+Number Alive in Light][Number Dead+Initial Number]-1*100

A significance level of α = 0.05 is used throughout.

Results and Discussion

Cedar panels were not toxic, but were significantly repellent to B. germanica, S. longipalpa, and T. domestica. Both the rate and the maximum level of repellency were directly related to the quantity of cedar put in the dark compartment of the choice box. There was no (0%) mortality of any of the three species tested during the seven-day continuous exposure period. In fact, 5% mortality was found in the B. germanica controls with no exposure to cedar. For all cedar treatments, the asymptotic 95% confidence levels of the maximum number of B. germanica, S. longipalpa, and T. domestica in the light, untreated, compartment did not overlap those of the untreated controls. These statistical results indicate that all cedar treatments caused a significant (α ≥ 0.05) repellent reaction by cockroaches and firebrats. Although with the rectangular hyperbola model significant regressions could not always be obtained with all treatments, significant differences were always obtained among control, members of the group: chips, floor, and sides, and box treatments.

Performance indices clearly reflected the repellent, but nonlethal, nature of cedar. Maximum asymptotic indices for control, untreated, boxes ranged from -10 to 7, agreeing with previous results on cockroaches (Rust and Reierson 1978). These data, however, have little value when comparing nonlethal treatments or compounds.

Based on the results of these experiments, cedar paneling is clearly repellent to German and brownbanded cockroaches and to firebrats. Each of these pests are found in the home as well as commercial establishments such as restaurants where they may cause damage to foodstuffs, transmit disease organisms, and themselves become allergens. The use of repellent safe materials, like cedar, in "built-in" pest control could not only prevent the establishment of pest population, but aid in their control. Further investigations on the nature of the repellent in cedar, the range of species that can be repelled, the effects of aging on the repellency of cedar, and methods of analysis are strongly encouraged.




Aromatic Eastern Redcedar provides many uses to both people and animal habitat and is a natural friend to the environment.  Outside of the many uses to people, the Eastern Redcedar tree provides shade and cover for wildlife on a year round basis.  The berries produced by the Redcedar tree are consumed by birds and other animals, which help to propagate Eastern Redcedar trees.  When Eastern Redcedar is seen growing along fence rows, the seeding for those trees likely came from birds eating the berries from the Eastern Redcedar trees.

Aromatic Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a member of the cypress family and is prevalent in the eastern and central U.S.  ( Four states  account for 53% of the Eastern Redcedar tree inventory; Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri (U.S. Forest Service, Forest Industry Analysis). Eastern Redcedar thrives on limestone based soils and has continued to proliferate over the eastern and central U.S.  Eastern Redcedar is not endangered or in short supply.  See map of Eastern Redcedar Tree Distribution.  In fact, the supply of Eastern Redcedar is expected to grow in available volume for at least the next three decades.  (

Eastern Redcedar is one of 13 Juniper species native to the U.S.  It is a small evergreen tree, commonly 10 to 35 feet in height, with a pyramid to round shape ( The wood is fragrant, usually reddish or reddish-brown, easily worked, very durable, and not injured by insects. Its resistance to decay makes it particularly useful for fence posts and other ground-contact applications. However, it seldom achieves the size or straight grain needed in lumber. Many native peoples have used the aromatic foliage and resins for medicinal or spiritual purposes. "An essential oil is obtained by distillation from wood and leaves. That from the wood is often used for perfumery, sometimes in medicine. Oil from the leaves and shoots is also used in medicine"  (Dallimore, William, Albert Bruce Jackson, and S.G. Harrison. 1967. A handbook of Coniferae and Ginkgoaceae).

The primary use of Aromatic Eastern Redcedar is for lining closets and other enclosed areas to provide protection for clothes, linens and other personal items from damage or infestation from insects such as moths, silverfish, cockroaches, etc. (see Scientific Studies link).  This prevention is offered as nature intended; in a chemical free, non-toxic, manner.  The natural oils found in Aromatic Eastern Redcedar produce the aroma that repels pests, but is pleasing to people.  The use of Aromatic Eastern Redcedar has been used to protect clothing and other valuable items for hundreds of years.  Aromatic Eastern Redcedar provides the opportunity to turn away from harmful, toxic pesticides and turn toward a natural alternative that is both safe and effective.  Eastern Redcedar is the new Green alternative.



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