While restoring historic landmarks in New Orleans, I encountered older porch ceiling painted a beautiful blue color – Haint Blue. In the Deep South, this blue hue was believed to repel unwanted insects as well as ward off evil spirits – the word “haint” is a derivative of “haunt”. In a sense, the application of Haint Blue became a talisman for the home, which in return provides protection. But, I wanted to know more!
Is it possible that our great grandfathers knew more about pest control than we give them credit for? It turns out that it was the mixture of color, ingredients and pure mystic that gave rise to this belief and made it effective.
The tones of blue used replicate the light spectrum in the dusk hours and can confuse insects notorious for returning to the nest at this time. Wasps, bees, and hornets have been observed flying into the ceiling thinking it is the skyfall. This slight trick of color can be a deterrent to nest building. It actually works to a degree.
In the early days, Haint Blue was made from a simple mixture of pigment and lime. Lime is actually a natural insect repellent, so it checks out. Unfortunately, modern Haint Blue paint lacks the insect repelling lime. However, it is still important to examine the make-up of modern paint in a Haint Blue color. Certain paints use chemical bases that actually off-gas and attract insects to the surface. These paints provide a lure and negate the benefits of the color spectrum. Recall the original paints were made from pigment and lime that were in their own rights insect repellents. I recommend the use of Non-VOC paints with neutral bases to mix the Haint Blue color.
Additionally, if you are searching for simple and natural ways to repel insects from your porch area examine your color usage. Strong color cushions and porch furniture can act as a draw to insects. Unfortunately insects mistake the bright colors for flowers and are drawn to the area. In this case, I recommend the use of natural insect repellents such as Wondercide. Wondercide is an organic cedar oil-based insect repellent and can be used both indoor and outdoor to control insects. It can be sprayed directly to hard surfaces and offers a pleasant cedar, or lemongrass aroma. Note: Please avoid spraying any oil based products directly to fabric surfaces to prevent staining.
Inspired by southern folklore, superstitions, and a little ingenuity Haint Blue ceilings are still being used to adorn our homes. Entwined in the culture of the Deep South, The Savannah Historical Society formulated and authorized two variants of Haint Blue in 1980. They issued their findings with a lighter color variant offering a hint of mint green and a dark version of Haint with a touch of teal.
When looking to add southern charm to your home’s outdoor living space, the use of Haint Blue on your porch ceiling is a must! From personal experience, it will actually appear to prolong the light from the setting sun throughout the porch and keep the bugs from the house. It also is a pleasant surprise to guests and creates a peaceful setting to enjoy the outdoors.
Regardless of truth or fiction, the use of Haint Blue offers the quintessential Southern charm to any home. I have spent time with Mythic Paint to reformulate the original Haint Blue colors and highly recommend them. Mythic Paint has included these formulas in a wonderful Historic Landmark palette accepted by most City and State Historic Landmark commissions throughout the U.S. These colors can be found by their code names 026-4 Haint Blue Too and 038-5 Haint Blue.