Mother Earth's Medicine Cabinet: 10 Natural Ways To Keep Bugs Away

This year’s Spring Equinox brought about such beautiful weather in my area. The first day of Spring was lovely with temperatures peaking out at 81, mid-afternoon. I found myself outdoors felling trees in order to get my land ready for my new tiny home -- I’m ashamed to say I was unprepared.

With my first tree felled I felt the creepy crawling of none other than…..seed ticks, which are basically little tiny baby ticks. I knew that flea and tick season was fast approaching but I didn’t realize it was upon us already. With that being said, I decided it was time to walk you through Mother Earth’s Medicine Cabinet and show you around the natural bug repellant section. There is a plethora of available plants and herbs in Mother Earth’s arsenal so I’ve decided to pick 11 of my favorites to use.

11 Natural Bug Repellents & Deterrents

  1. Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum): Mountain Mint, also known as, short-toothed mountain mint, is full of a chemical compound called pulegone. The essential oils produced from the plant make an incredible bug repellent. You can also use the leaves for a delicious spearmint flavored tea, just like many of the plants in the mint family. Mountain Mint can keep fleas, ticks, and mosquitos at bay.
  2. Beautyberry Bush (Callicarpa americana): American Beautyberry has been a well-known folk remedy for centuries. It has the potential to keep mosquitoes, deer flies, ticks, and horseflies from causing any nuisance. The leaves contain compounds that keep biting bugs from digging in.
  3. Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata): Sweetgrass is an incredible medicine in so many ways. The aroma is incredibly sweet-scented and calming -- for us, that is! Bugs, especially the blood-sucking kind, don’t really like strong aromatic scents. The chemical compounds phytol and coumarin are safer and just as effective as DEET, the not-so-safe chemical bug spray.
  4. Rosemary (Rosemary officinalis): This isn’t the first or last time you’ll see Rosemary listed on Mother Earth’s Medicine Cabinet. Rosemary oil is incredible for so many things, one being a natural bug repellent. You can simply bruise the fresh leaves and rub them onto your skin or you can make a bug spray (keep reading for directions!).
  5. Rue (Ruta graveolens): Rue, also known as the herb-of-grace, is a very potent bug repellent. It is best used in combination with wormwood but it can be used by itself. It can be used in the gardens and in the home to repel unwanted insects, especially mosquitos and fleas.
  6. Citronella (Cymbopogon): Some know this plant as citronella while others recognize it by its other name, Lemongrass. The super strong fragrance masks our body scents so bugs can’t find us so easily. The strong scent is also undesirable to blood sucking insects when it comes to the odor, as well as the super bitter taste.
  7. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus): Once again the strongly scented oil is behind the bug repellent qualities. Eucalyptus oil has the ability to mask our scent, which confuses the bloodsuckers. The oils can also block the carbon dioxide and lactic acid exhalations which are two other ways the insects find us.
  8. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): Wormwood is an awesome mosquito repellent. You can use the fresh crushed leaves alone or make a brew using a combination of other essential oils and herbs. Wormwood is another plant that is great for repelling bugs from the garden, as well as keeping them away from our flesh.
  9. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium): This member of the mint family is another that can be brewed for tea, as well as for brewing bug spray. The volatile oils found in the leaves make an incredible bug spray.
  10. Garlic: Any species of fresh crushed garlic can make an amazing bug repellent.  Unfortunately, it is one of the stinkier options for both the bugs and the humans.

All of these plants are amazing options for all-natural bug repellents. Something I think is totally awesome is that all of these plants, aside from the garlic, can be planted in and around your yard to keep the insects further away from your home. If you have the plants growing all over your yard then it’s a guarantee that you’ll have some to harvest for making the bug spray. All of these plants, herbs, and their essential oils are super beneficial to us. Mosquitoes, ticks, and other blood-sucking insects can carry all sorts of terrible diseases and illnesses -- in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Essential Oil Bug Repellent For Clothing

  • 4 Ounces Witch Hazel ~ OR ~ Vodka ~ OR ~ Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 15 Drops Rose Geranium Oil
  • 15 Drops Sweetgrass Essential Oil
  • 5-7 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5-7 Drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
  • Spray Bottle

This recipe is rather strong and doesn’t contain any carrier oils. It is meant to be sprayed onto clothing: Do Not Use Directly On Skin! You can also rub some of this onto your pet’s collar to keep them bug-free as well. I have also used just a little bit on the pet’s bedding to help keep bugs at bay.

Rosemary Repellent

This is a super simple recipe and it is safe for the skin.

  • 1 Cup Dried Rosemary Leaves
  • 2 Quarts Water

Place 1 quart of water into a saucepan with the Rosemary and boil it for about 20-25 minutes.

In a separate half-gallon container pour in the second quart of water, strain the Rosemary water discarding the plant matter into the compost, and add the Rosemary water to the half-gallon jug. Shake. Keep this spray stored in the refrigerator so it doesn’t spoil. You’ll know when it isn’t going to be useful any longer when the scent becomes weak. You can apply this directly onto you and your pets’ skin.

I hope that this article was helpful to you. I know with the warm weather there are going to be a lot of us outdoors frequently. You can make big batches of the bug repellents and use a small spray bottle to carry with you when you go outside. Always remember, if you’ve never used certain oils or plants before, do a skin test to be sure you won’t have a negative reaction.

Articles published by Basmati.com are no substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider before beginning any new regimen. For more information, please visit our disclaimer page here.

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