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Herb Affair Blog - Aromatherapy

​Creating an Effective, Natural Bug Repellant

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Mosquito on a flower

Whether you’re worried about the Zika virus this coming summer or just trying to avoid the insanely annoying itching that accompanies mosquito bites, essential oils exist as a safe, effective barrier to bugs. Essential oils have gained a great amount of media time recently because of their multi-faceted abilities to improve health. Not only can they be used to disinfect the home and enhance nutritional benefits of favorite dishes, but they can also repel unwanted bugs. Interested in creating an effective, natural bug repellent? Here’s what you need.

  • A clean spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Witch hazel

You will also need 5-6 of the following essential oils:

  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella
  • Cinnamon
  • Cedarwood
  • Lavender
  • Clove
  • Basil

All essential oil users create their own blends based on their personal likes and dislikes. While some may love the spicy scent of cinnamon, others may loathe it! However, for repelling bugs—particularly mosquitos, I would highly recommend citronella, lemongrass, and tea tree oils to get started. The rest are up to you! Tea tree is also an astringent, and can help reduce itchiness if bites occur. It’s important to remember that these essential oils work to repel bugs; no bug spray will be 100% effective all the time. However essential oils have a fairly good track record of repelling insect pests. After all, several of these essential oils are taken from plants that bugs themselves detest!

Once you’ve assembled your supplies, wash the spray bottle to ensure that it’s clean. Next, fill it half way with distilled water. Then fill the other half with witch hazel. Although some people find witch hazel’s scent to be strongly astringent, it dissipates on the skin after a minute or so. Once the spray bottle is nearly full, add 10 drops of each of the 5 selected essential oils. Once all the liquids are in the spray bottle, tighten the cap and mix by gently shaking the contents. Be sure to set the spray bottle’s setting to mist instead of stream; this ensures that the most area will be covered on application. Viola! You now have a safe, all-natural bug repellent that can be used on both skin and clothes alike.

You may need to experiment a bit to find a recipe that’s right for you. Most insects generally tend to shy away from any astringent or citrusy scents. For your first attempt, try combining rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, eucalyptus, citronella, and cedarwood. If you’ll be out during a stressful event, lavender would be a good addition for its naturally calming scent. Feel free to modify the recipe so it works for you; perhaps try doubling the citronella and removing the eucalyptus—just have fun!

And remember: planting these plants around your yard provides several benefits; not only will bugs vacate your property for the next yard over, but you’ll have several edible culinary delights. Basil, mint, lavender, rosemary, and lemongrass are all excellent additions to fresh cooking and offer numerous health benefits beyond convincing unwanted insects to move on.

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