If you are heading outside for picnics, sporting events, yard work, or relaxing on the patio, chances are you’ve seen a bug or two already. While covering up is the best option for decreasing bug bites, it’s not always realistic. After all… summer can be HOT!
In the past I have reached for cans of commercial bug spray lying around during cookouts and camping excursions… I figured it was better than dancing around like a wild turkey, slapping myself, and shouting at bugs while friends shot strange looks at me. However, I never felt quite right about it.
Matt has boycotted poisonous DEET solutions for years in favor of essential oil solutions, with great success.
The more I educate myself about DEET and other chemicals, the more I’m convinced I have to be proactive about finding better alternatives. (If you’re new to the DEET issue, you might be interested in reading this…) I try to treat my skin with the respect it deserves as it performs the difficult job of protecting my insides. Thank goodness I have discovered the power of essential oils and their ability to deter bugs!
Before you get desperate and spray on commercial bug sprays (that may contain some nasty chemicals), take some time to consider the better alternative; a natural bug repellent that smells wonderful, is effective, and takes only minutes to whip up.
Different oils repel different bugs, so it’s best to use a combination of essential oils to ward off several types of biters. Don’t let a fear of being eaten alive keep you inside this season. Instead, invest in a few hard-hitting essential oils and test out this natural alternative to chemical sprays.
Natural Insect Repellent
- 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: witch hazel or vodka (find witch hazel here)
- 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, or neem oil (which contains natural insecticidal compounds) – (where to buy these oils)
- ½ teaspoon vodka as preservative (if not already using)
- 100-110 drops essential oils (where to buy 100% pure essential oils)
Sample Bug-Repelling Essential Oil Blend:
- 55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects, but not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.)
- 15 drops cedarwood essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil (if using, choose Lavandula angustifolia – “Lavender (40-42) essential oil” does not have the same insecticidal qualities)
- 15 drops rosemary essential oil
Add carrier liquids to small spray bottle (3 or 4 oz. works well so there is room for shaking). Add essential oils. Shake well before each use. Natural bug repellent will need to be reapplied every few hours for maximum effectiveness.
Other Bug-Repelling Essential Oils:
- tea tree
- rose geranium
Additional Tips and Warnings:
- As always with essential oils, women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a health practitioner before using.
- Extreme caution should be used when using essential oils on young children.
- Always perform a patch test to check for an allergic reaction before using an essential oil for the first time.
- Always label homemade products well.
- Dark-colored bottles work best for products containing essential oils. Store in a cool, dark place when not using.
Note: This natural homemade insect repellent is great for mosquitos, flies, and other annoying warm season bugs. Tweak to your liking and apply with confidence.
Resources & Recommended Reading:
- Updated Information Regarding Insect Repellents on CDC.gov
- Natural Mosquito Repellents: Which Natural Mosquito Repellents Work Best? from About.com
- Bug Spray Examined from the Natural Resources Defense Council
(photo credit to Diane Jabs)