Natural Bug Repellent

Witch Hazel, Citronella Oil, Lavender Oil and Eucalyptus Oil - natural bug deterrents

Happy Summer Solstice to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere (for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere you may find this post more helpful in 6 months). As we start our long journey into Summer we begin our months long battle with pesky, biting insects. I’ve been reading-up on this topic and have some chemical free options for you to try at home – better for your health and the environment.

In the next few weeks my travels will take me into some forested outdoor areas. I’ll be hiking in the Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington and camping in Northern Pennsylvania. Yes, that’s right, I’ll be camping for two whole days. Given that I have camped one day in the last 10 years this is a major feat. And it is all for the sake of my man. He is that cute.

In preparation for these outdoor adventures I’ve been reading up on natural bug repellents and making some test runs. I’ve made a homemade version out of essential oils that has worked surprisingly well. We’ve been testing it in my friend’s mosquito heavy yard. The trick is to cover yourself thoroughly. If the mosquito finds an uncovered spot it will get you. Sneaky suckers.

To make the bug spray combine the below ingredients in a small spray bottle and mix thoroughly. Apply spray liberally to exposed skin and reapply as needed every couple of hours.

2 oz. Witch Hazel
12 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
12 Drops Citronella Essential Oil
12 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil

The great thing about this bug spray is it smells great and is chemical free – a great alternative to Deet based products. Essential oils can be bought at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and other grocery stores in the medicinal and body care section. If you need an online resource I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs based out of Oregon.

As a back-up I am also taking Badger’s Anti-Bug Balm. I have read rave reviews about this product and am looking forward to trying it out. It, too, contains a variety of essential oils – Citronella, Cedar, Lemongrass, Rosemary and Geranium. (I am also a fan of Badger Sunscreens.)

For those of you closer to home who want to deter biting insects from your yard, here are a few more ideas I’ve come across lately:

1. Border decks and patios with beautiful potted Citronella Geraniums.
2. Purchase a Praying Mantis cocoon from your local gardening store or online and tie it on a bush in your yard for hatching.
3. Mosquito Beater is an essential oil solution created for your yard. Its granules, that can be spread on the ground outside, contain Garlic, Citronella, Lemongrass, Cedar and Geranium.

Have you found a great way to deter pests without heavy chemicals? If so, please share your solutions in the comments section here.

Happy Summer! Here’s hoping you stay sun warmed and bite free.

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  1. Lauren says:

    My mom gave me a little container by Burts Bees that had the same ingredients, plus vitamin E but I haven’t tried it yet.

    Have a great time camping, I went for the first time last fall with a bunch of friends and loved it!! A bunch of us are actually going to camp in KY this September, should be beautiful.

    • Jes says:

      I do like Burt’s Bees products – a great little company based out of North Carolina. Let me know what you think of the product when you get into the big outdoors! 🙂

  2. Tim says:

    Luckily, I am naturally good friends with mosquitoes and hence rarely get bitten. But Brian swears by this recipe and he is a regular smorgasbord for hungry insects. Great recipe Jes!!!

    • Jes says:

      LOL! Naturally good friends with mosquitoes. It is true and absolutely amazing. 🙂

    • Brian Caudill says:

      I love this stuff! Off to Whole Foods today to get all the ingredients!

      • Jes says:

        I tell you what , this stuff really proved its worth to me on this camping trip in PA this weekend. Other people were getting bit and I had no issues all weekend, even on a walk through the woods. This is good stuff and it works!

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    About the Author – Jes

    About the Author

    On this site I share my bottomless passion for good food, big adventures and green spaces. You can learn more about my wellness programming, cooking and gardening classes and Ayurvedic offerings here.

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    All of the content (including recipes) on Urban Sacred Garden is the original work of Jessica Pendergrass, unless otherwise noted. You are welcome to link to this site and its content, but please ensure proper credit and let me know so I can return the favor. Any duplication of the content or recipes is by permission only. Please contact me via e-mail for permission or if you have any other questions.
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