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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2019

Haint Blue Paint Scares Off Bugs and Maybe More


About a decade ago we painted the ceilings of eaves and porches at home and at the office with haint blue paint. I continue to be fascinated how clean these surfaces remain - very few insects, no webs, wasp nests or bird nests of any kind. Oh, what is haint blue paint?


Haint blue use originated with the Gullah people, African Americans in the Low Country region of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina. Haint is an alternative spelling of haunt, historically used to refer to spirits, ghosts or witch-like creatures. One theory is that the haint blue color represents water that spirits cannot pass over. Another is that it mimics the sky, tricking the ghosts into passing through. The sky idea is probably what fools the insects and birds.


Haint blue paint under eave.

Haint blue paint on porch ceiling.


The blue pigment was originally made from crushed indigo plants – a common crop for plantations in the American South. The pigment was added to milk paint that in the early days was mixed in pits dug right on the properties where the painters were working. One ingredient in milk paint was lime. Some think the lime in the blue paint mixture is what deterred the insects, not the color itself. I think it's just the color because my haint blue paint is just inexpensive blue latex.


Some homeowners, me included, like the relaxing feel it creates. Haint blue can be seen today on doors, shutters, and entire buildings but most commonly on porch ceilings and eaves all over the world.


The Savannah Historical Society authorized the use two haint blue paints in 1980. Haint Blue Light is almost a mint green. Haint Blue Dark is a mid tone teal. Haint blue is more of a cultural iconic hue that falls in the light blue to blue-green range rather than a specific color. We have paint chips of these two colors on, but it seems to me that any light blue color is effective.



Haint blue on porch ceiling and shutters

Haint blue paint on porch ceiling on Southern plantation in a popular film.


If it works on "haints," that's fine with me, but I know it works on insects and birds. My opinion is that it is worth a try.And yes, I still recommend allowing mud daubers and wasps to be present and help with insect control, but this method helps keeping them out of high use and high visibility areas.


People have used haint blue in boathouses, work sheds, gazebos and many other structures. One of our friends has recently painted the inside of his creeping cattle feeder as an experiment to see if it would keep the mud daubers and wasps out of the feeder. So far – so good!




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