How to Make All-Natural Insect Repellant

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Summer is in full-swing and the bugs are out in full force! Some of my readers have requested a recipe for an all-natural insect repellant, so I developed formula made with essential oils that works well and smells good, too!

Different essential oils repel different insects, so I used a blend of different oils to cover a wide spectrum of pests. For my recipe, I used cedar, citronella, clove, lavender, peppermint and rosemary with castor oil (which repels mosquitoes) in a witch hazel base.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces distilled water
  • 3 ounces witch hazel
  • 3.5 teaspoons of essential oils
  • 1 teaspoon glycerine (optional)

Combine well and pour into clean spray bottles.

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Shake well before each use as the water and oils will separate. Spray onto your skin or clothing, avoiding your eye area, covering as much area as possible. Wash with soap and warm water to remove once you are back indoors. Store in a cool, dark place.

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You can vary the recipe by using different essential oils, as long you keep the ratio of no more than 1 part essential oils to 10-20 parts carrier. Here are some of the best essential oils for repelling insects, along with the insects they repel:

  • cedar oil (fleas)
  • cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
  • citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • clove oil (mosquitoes)
  • eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
  • geranium oil (ticks and lice)
  • lavender oil (ticks)
  • lemongrass oil (ticks)
  • orange oil (fleas)
  • peppermint oil (fleas)
  • rosemary oil (mosquitoes)

You can use any combination of the above listed essential oils. And instead of witch hazel and water, you can use olive oil, vodka or straight witch hazel without water.

NOTE: If you are pregnant or nursing, do not apply an insect repellent, natural or otherwise, without consulting your physician

IMG_6725This little nymph recently hitched a ride home on my leg from a hike in the woods. If only I had some of my homemade bug repellant with me, he wouldn’t have had a chance!

NOTE: If you are looking for all-natural pesticide recipes, this post on housekeeping.org has a comprehensive collection, including our neem-based recipe.

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Strawberry Leaves Forever

Recently, while visiting the local garden supply store, I overheard a woman asking a salesman if he had any product that would kill wild strawberries. I have tons of wild strawberries growing all around my yard, and it made me wonder if there wasn’t some good use for them. I know the animals enjoy the berries. What could I do with them? 

I looked in his book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus and found quite a bit on wild strawberries. Apparently the leaves have extremely high levels of Vitamin C — more per serving than a glass of orange juice.

So, I tried making an infusion from the leaves. I picked about a cup of fresh, unblemished leaves. Then I rinsed them off to remove any dirt. I placed them in a quart jar, and poured 1 quart of boiling water over them, then let them steep for 4 hours. 

The result was a mild tea that tasted something like spinach water. I added some peppermint tea to the infusion to give it a more interesting flavor. I’m not sure that this is something I will add to my regular diet, but it is good to know that, in a pinch, abundant doses of vitamin C are right there for the picking.

Please note: My yard is completely pesticide-free and has been as long as I have lived here. Do not ever make teas or consume plants that have been exposed to chemical pesticides.