Newsletter Signup | Subscribe to Magazine

Bug out

Make homemade bug repellent for your skin, home and yard

By Grandma Reen

When I step outside in the summer, mosquitoes and biting gnats call out to each other that their favorite human meal is now available. I’m sure there are others who have the same experience. So a few years ago, I began hunting for a natural and safe mosquito and gnat repellent, since I really dislike the smell of DEET and its sticky feeling on my skin. I only found picaridin, a slightly better alternative. So began my research. I found that many essential oils have bug repellent properties. Not only that, but most smell nice as well. Here’s what I found:

  • Lemon eucalyptus is one of the most effective natural mosquito repellents. It is the only natural repellent that is registered with the EPA and recommended by the CDC for effectiveness and human safety. Its effectiveness ranks third behind DEET and picaridin.
  • Cedarwood An effective repellent for mosquitoes, flies, ticks and chiggers. 
  • Lavender Make sure it’s Lavandula angustifolia. Use it to repel mosquitoes, flies, gnats, ticks and chiggers. 
  • Rosemary Good for flies, gnats and ticks. 

Here are some other essential oils and their “targets.” You may find you like another combination of smells better. Just remember that you’ll need a combination of 100 drops, and start with the heavy concentration of lemon eucalyptus if you want an effective mosquito repellent.

  • Citronella Mosquitoes, fleas, gnats, ticks
  • Lemongrass Chiggers, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, gnats
  • Peppermint Flies, mosquitoes
  • Spearmint Mosquitoes, flies