Bug Sprays and Repellents the Natural Way

by Anna Soref

natural bug repellent


Along with the joys of being outdoors during these warmer summer months comes the downside of mosquito bites. While citronella lamps and candles help deter mosquitos from hanging around, bug repellent is usually mandatory in high-mosquito populations and for children (whom the flying pests just seem to love to bite). Most repellents contain nasty chemicals like DEET, but you can avoid these by whipping up a quick batch of natural mosquito repellent.

Following are recipes for a bug spray and a rub on. One caveat: You need to apply these often, sometimes every half hour if the bugs are really flying.

Mosquito-repelling essential oils (use at least two for a repellent):

  • catnip
  • eucalyptus
  • geranium
  • lemon balm (citronella)
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • thyme

Oils vary in potency; you may need more or less essential oils than the recipe calls for. Start small and add until desired potency is achieved.

Mosquito-repellent spray

1 cup witch hazel or distilled water (the oils won’t separate as much with the witch hazel)

1 teaspoon essential oils

In a glass or metal bottle (the essential oils can erode plastic) mix witch hazel or water with essential oils; shake well before each use.

Mosquito-repellent oil

½ teaspoon essential oils

4 oz carrier oil, such as almond, apricot or even olive

Place the ingredients in a glass or metal container; one with an eyedropper works well to control spilling. Shake gently before applying.

You can make a potent batch of this (a tablespoon of oil with a teaspoon of essential oils) and apply to a handkerchief or cap to deter bugs as well.

Safety note: Essential oils can be potent. Don’t apply them straight to the skin; always dilute with something. And always test on a small area of your skin before wider application.

photo credit: NACHO TORRES 2012

About the author...

 has worked in the natural products industry for more than 20 years. She has been a contributing writer for numerous trade and consumer natural health publications including Yoga Journal, Vegetarian Times, Whole Living, Herb Quarterly, Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals and Nutrition Science News. Currently she is the editor for Natural Vitality Living, makers of the best selling magnesium supplement on the market.

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