As winter phases out and warm weather begins to trickle in the insects will be coming out of hiding to get in on the summertime action. Insects play a crucial role when it comes to keeping the ecosystem in balance, but more often than not, they aren’t fun to interact with. This is particularly true with parasitic insects like mosquitoes and ticks that can leave painful, itchy bites and cause disease. In this article, we will discuss a couple of different methods for making a natural insect repellent with plant-based ingredients.
Important note: When replacing commercial insect repellents, it is important to use your own discretion. While the herbs listed here might help, they are not scientifically proven to be as effective as traditional repellents. Below we’ve provided options that we’ve experimented with in the past… But you must do thorough research before attempting to use them or make them for yourself. While we enjoy opening people up to the world of herbs, and we do our best to provide valuable insight, our instructions and information may be subject to error.
Making a Spray From Dried Herbs
All plants contain compounds that are known as volatile oils, but some plants and herbs contain higher concentrations than others. Generally speaking, the more fragrant a plant is, the higher the volatile oil content. Insects like mosquitoes become overwhelmed when in the presence of aromatic herbs that contain high levels of these oils, which is why they might be useful for keeping bugs at bay. One combination of herbs that works particularly well is a mix of peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender.
How We Make the Spray
- Boil about a cup of water
- Add two dried tablespoons of each herb
- Stir the herbs into the water
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and let steep until cool
- Strain the infused water and mix with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
- Store the mixture in a spray bottle and use as needed
- The vinegar should act to preserve the spray but placing in the fridge may help
Yarrow is a common plant that grows wild in a variety of places. It hosts a number of benefits that most people are not aware of. It is popular for skin health and also reportedly makes a powerful insect repellent. So, if you’re looking to tone your skin while simultaneously keeping bugs at bay, Yarrow could be the choice for you.
Yarrow extract (or tincture) can be purchased at most health stores. Yarrow is gentle enough to spray to the skin directly, but if you would like it to go further you, it can be diluted with a small amount of water.
Essential Oils That are Effective Against Insects
When working with essential oils, it is best to start with a couple of drops diluted in a carrier oil. Starting small can reduce the risk of skin irritation. If you choose to make a spray out of essential oils instead of diluting with a carrier oil, be sure to shake it up well before you use it to ensure even application.
Essential oils are incredibly concentrated and can be harmful to the skin when used without proper dilution. Using essential oils for making homemade bug repellent is quick and straightforward, but it can be harmful if done improperly.