6 All-Natural Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

6 All-Natural Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Nothing is worse than being bothered by flying pests. It can make life miserable for you….and your chickens! That’s why this article is about my top 6 ways to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes off your chickens so you AND they can enjoy time outside!

 

It’s just starting to be summer on the farm, which means it’s time for the flying insects to make their grand entrance into the world.

 

I’ve shown you how to keep flies out of your coop, but as your flock plays in their run or tractor, or free ranges, you might notice them shaking their heads quite a bit and looking somewhat miserable, particularly on humid days.

 

You might even hear some annoyed clucks and squawks.

 

It’s possible your flock is being annoyed by gnats, flies, mosquitoes, no see ums, and the like – and it can have an impact on their health.

Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Why flying insects can cause health problems in your backyard chickens

Think about it – if you’re trying to forever keep insects from bugging you, you’re not eating, drinking, and enjoying life.

 

The extra energy spent constantly moving to keep bugs off also can cause your chickens to lose weight and experience heat stress since they’re physically uncomfortable.

 

Flies and mosquitoes also harbor diseases and bacteria, which can effect the health of your flock. And yes, they WILL bite your chickens.

 

So, in this article, I’ll show you 6 different ways you can keep flying insects off your hens!

 

Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Citronella plants

Citronella is safe for chickens, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how great it is at keeping bugs away – particularly mosquitoes.

 

Each year about this time, I put a few potted citronella plants in the coop. They look great, keep the air smelling fresh, and help keep mosquitoes from bothering the hens.

 

You can also use fresh citronella in nesting boxes (see below for more herbal nesting box options), which might prevent them from getting heat stress and laying abnormal eggs.

 

Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes 3-4 times a week if you’re using fresh herbs.

 

Lemongrass in nesting boxes

Lemongrass and citronella are related, and both contain the chemical constituent that does such a great job keeping us bug free during the summer.

 

I have not found the citronella plant as a dried herb, so I use lemongrass in my flock’s nesting boxes to give them extra protection while they lay eggs.

 

I’ve noticed that when the hens sit still to lay their eggs, they’re way more prone to being irritated by gnats, mosquitoes, and flies – which can make it pretty difficult to get those butt nuggets out easily.

 

Imagine trying to give birth while having a mosquito buzzing around your head. No fun.

 

We carry dried lemongrass in the store here and it’s also a main ingredient in PestsBGone, which I developed specifically to keep pests away in coops.

 

Both of these are the same herbs I use in my own backyard chicken flock’s nesting boxes so they’re happy and lay great eggs.


Worried about pests in your coop??

MitesBGone Nesting Herbs can keep mites, lice & other creepy crawlies away.

YES! I want to keep mites & other parasites out of my nesting boxes!!


Dried Lemon Balm in nesting boxes & feed and fresh potted plants

Lemon balm also contains citronella, and can be mixed in feed and nesting boxes.

 

We grow it every year in our garden, and for us, it’s a perennial. So, we have a constant supply of fresh lemon balm to hang in the coop or mix into the nesting boxes.

 

You can also tear fresh lemon balm to release the essential oils and rub them on your flock’s combs, wattles, legs, and other areas that seem bothered by insects.

 

You can buy started lemon balm at your local big box store and replant into pots. If you want to use dried lemon balm (it smells GREAT and the essential oils are concentrated), you can find it in my store right here.

 

You can also mix dried lemon balm into your flock’s feed – they love the fresh taste and picking at the herbs.

 

dried lemon balm Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

 

Citronella essential oil mixed with carrier oil

Not everyone wants to use essential oils on their chickens – and that’s fine.

 

If you DO use oils on your flock, citronella essential oil is GREAT to quickly apply to your flock if they’re REALLY bothered by gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc and are completely miserable.

 

This time of year, I usually have a few hens who seem especially bothered, and they seem much relieved after applying citronella oil.

 

You can mix 1 drop of citronella essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, etc and apply the mixture to combs, wattles, etc to keep the bugs at bay.

 

If essential oils aren’t your thing, you can combine citronella, dried lemongrass, or dried lemon balm with olive oil, allow to steep for 2-4 weeks so the olive oil absorbs the essential oils from the plants, and then apply as needed.

 

I avoid essential oils altogether with chicks, and opt for simply keeping fresh or dried herbs around them to prevent pests.

 

Peppermint coop spray & fly spray for chickens

I cover how to make peppermint coop spray here and natural fly repellent here, and they’re both a great option to keep flies, etc away. Please note that these sprays aren’t meant to be sprayed ON your chickens – just around the coop.

 

I have a recipe below that you can use ON your chickens.

 

Flying insects hate peppermint, although I would also add something like citronella or lemon balm to get a double (or triple) punch. I’m not convinced peppermint is as effective as plants containing citronella when it comes to flying insects (for mites, etc, peppermint is GREAT).

 

If you plan to spray your flock to keep bugs away, consider steeping peppermint with lemongrass in hot water. Allow to cool, then gently mist by spraying the mixture up towards the sky, allowing the mist to fall down.

 

Don’t drench your chickens – you’re not looking to give them a bath. Just mist them a bit, making sure to avoid eyes, ears, nostrils, etc.

 

If they’re particularly bothered in those areas, you can squirt your fingers and gently apply by rubbing your fingers AROUND those areas – not in or on them.


With eyes, if I need to apply around the eyes, I only apply UNDER the eyes to avoid any drips that might harm their eyeballs.

 

I do the same with other species, especially those that physically sweat such as horses – you don’t want anything entering their eyes and potentially causing problems.

 

This is assuming the day is warm enough for it – if the temperature is cool in your area, try a different way I’ve mentioned in this article to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes away.

 

We’ve found this to work to provide some relief during particularly muggy & buggy days.

 

As above, I avoid spraying chicks at all and opt to keep fresh or dried herbs around them to keep them bug free.

Marigolds

Marigolds (not calendula, which are great flowers to feed your backyard chicken flock for golden yolks, but regular marigolds you find at your local farm store in early spring) are the go-to for gardeners to keep pests out of the garden, and it’ll work for your coop also.

 

We love putting marigolds in window boxes, hanging them around the coop, placing the petals in nesting boxes, etc to provide relief and help keep our hens comfortable.

 

They’re safe for backyard chickens, and it’s best to put any fresh flowers or herbs we discussed in this article at the same level as your flock.

 

But if you find your hens stripping off the petals, put the marigolds out of reach so they can still do their job or give your flock something tastier to rip apart.

 

The pretty color of marigolds brightens the interior of the coop and nesting boxes. Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes regularly, and keep watch for any potential external parasites such as chicken mites.

 

I hope these ideas give you some ways to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes off your chickens so they – and you – can enjoy the warm weather!

11 Essential Oils You Should Never Wear In The Sun

11 Essential Oils You Should Never Wear In The Sun

It’s summer, so let’s chat about essential oils you should never wear in the sun.

 

You’re probably thinking “What? I thought oils were safe….” And they are. BUT like anything in life, you need to use them the right way.

 

I learned this lesson the hard way (luckily, I caught myself in time).

 

Certain oils contain furanocoumarins, which is a long scary word for a naturally-occurring chemical compound that some plants produce as part of their defense mechanism.

 

These essential oils have a chemical reaction to UV light which can potentially result in some pretty serious skin problems, including:

  • severe redness
  • darkening
  • swelling
  • blisters

 

The effects are uncomfortable, and can last for weeks:

 

There's 11 essential oils that are dangerous to wear in the sun. Here's a detailed list and how to use them safely!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

In this article, I’m going to show you which oils you shouldn’t use before you head outside to work in your garden or care for your flock. I’ll also show you how you can safely use them if you DO want to use them before going outside.

 

11 Essential Oils You Should Never Wear In The Sun

Before we get started with our list, sometimes some of these oils are ok to wear in the sun depending on how they were distilled (cold pressed, steam distilled, etc).

 

For the sake of simplicity, I’m not going to get into all that in this article. Just generally understanding which oils you shouldn’t apply before going into the sun makes it easier to remember what’s safe and what’s not.

 

If you want to use any of the oils in the list below, just do it 12 hours before you go outside, or keep the area of application completely covered. It’s simple enough to do.

 

Here’s the list of oils you should avoid outside:

  • Bergamot
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Kumquat
  • Cumin
  • Tangerine
  • Mandarin
  • Petitgrain
  • Rue
  • Lemongrass

So You Want To Use One Of These Essential Oils You Should Never Wear In The Sun…What Now?

I personally didn’t follow my own advice one day (honestly, I used a blend and didn’t read the label – whoops!) and walked outside to feed my rabbits.

 

After a few minutes I noticed my neck and throat were getting kind of hot….much hotter than they should have. That’s a sign that phototoxicity was setting in – and it happened on my body after only just a few minutes. Not good!

 

I ran inside and checked the blend, and sure enough, orange was listed on the label.

 

To stay safe, after applying one or more of the oils listed above, you should stay out of the sun for at least 12 hours.

 

If you accidentally applied one of these oils, or really need or want to use one, and plan to go outside, just make sure you keep the area covered. Applying it to a place under your clothing is an option, and you can apply it to the bottom of your feet if they will remain covered.

 

If you’re going to be outdoors without shoes, you’re running the risk of feeling really, really hot, and possibly really uncomfortable. So, learn from my mistake!

 

Use your best judgement and stay safe. I want you with all your skin on.

Control Pests In Your Garden Organically With Essential Oils

Control Pests In Your Garden Organically With Essential Oils

If you use essential oils in your home, you can also use them to rid your garden of unwanted pests that will try to steal your harvest.

 

At least, that’s what we do.

 

Nothing is more frustrating than to spend lots of time and energy trying to grow cabbages than to go out to your garden….only to find leaves full of holes and sprinkled with tiny green cabbage looper eggs. Grrr…..

 

Oils are great to use in your garden because they’re organic, all-natural, and they WORK.

 

Particularly if you make a homemade insecticidal soap, you only need a drop or two – so they’re also economical.

 

Most basic essential oils cost $0.08 a drop, so you can spend a lot of money on commercial organic pest control….or you can save a few bucks and make them yourself.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how to use essential oils to deter and get rid of bugs, freeloading insects, and vegetable munchers in your garden.

 

A Word About Purity

Before we get started, let’s talk about purity for a minute. Everyone has their own favorite brand of oils – so we won’t cover particular brands in this article.

 

However, I advise buying from the manufacturer directly, and not from a 3rd party source like Amazon. It’s very, very easy to pop the top off oils and replace them with an inferior essential oil – or something that doesn’t even resemble an oil, but smells like the real deal.

 

The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and effort growing your garden, only to dump a bunch of toxins on them unwittingly.

 

Bottom line: Buy from a trusted source, just be sure the oil is pure, and the oil in the bottle is as advertised.

 

Ok, moving on….

 

How Do You Know Which Essential Oil To Use?

If you’re new to oils, or aren’t sure which one will most benefit your garden, determine which pests are bothering your garden.

 

Then, using the chart below, figure out which oil will best repel them.

 

If more than one pest threatens your plant, or in insect AND a fungus are causing trouble, then it’s perfectly fine to add more than one oil to water, to a rag, or to a container.

 

 

What Are The Go-to Oils?

There are a few essential oils that are go-to oils that will work against MOST garden pests. They interfere with your pesky visitor’s biological systems (each oil effects a different part of the insect’s body), causing them to leave the scene to save their lives.

 

Orange essential oil

If you want a go-to oil for killing insects, then orange is a good choice, since it works to destroy the exoskeletons of bugs.

 

Cedarwood essential oil

A second option is cedarwood, which is believed to interfere with their neurological capabilities.

 

Peppermint Essential Oil

If you don’t yet have pests in your garden or just want to deter them, then peppermint oil is a good option. It’s strong smelling, and garden pests will turn around and find an easier target for a snack.

 

Pest Repelled By
Ants Peppermint, Spearmint, Wild Orange, Cedarwood
Aphids Peppermint, Spearmint, Cedarwood, Wild Orange
Beetles Peppermint, Thyme, Wild Orange, Cedarwood
Caterpillars Rosemary, Cedarwood
Cutworms Thyme, Clary Sage, Cedarwood
Fleas Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Wild Orange, Rosemary, Cedarwood
Fungus (e.g. Powdery Mildew) Melaleuca, Wild Orange
Lice Peppermint, Spearmint, Cedarwood
Rabbits, Mice Peppermint
Slugs/Snails Cedarwood, Douglas Fir, Peppermint
Squash Bugs Peppermint, Wild Orange, Cedarwood

 

 

Insecticidal Soap

Commercial insecticidal soaps work by dissolving the hard external bodies of insects, and you can make your own at home with liquid castile soap and orange essential oil.

 

These soaps are effective against aphids, thrips, mites, immature leafhoppers, and whiteflies.  Just remember that insecticidal soap is only effective if they come in contact with the insects while the soap is still liquid; it won’t work after it dries on the plants.

 

To make your own, combine 5 tablespoons of pure castile liquid soap to 2 quarts of water. Add 5-6 drops of orange and cedarwood essential oils. Combine thoroughly and use immediately.

 

9 Essential Oils To Repel Insects Naturally (And Get Your Yard Back)

9 Essential Oils To Repel Insects Naturally (And Get Your Yard Back)

It’s summer…and it’s buggy. This time of year, the heat and humidity are bad enough, and I break out my go-to essential oils to repel insects when we’re outside.

 

(This article is based on my new book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. Grab it on Amazon here!)

 

I have another recipe where you can use herbs, but I’ve found oils work better because they’re concentrated plants in a bottle – so much more powerful than just the herbs themselves when it comes to insects.

 

Because they’re weaker than oils, if you spray yourself with an herbal solution, it will dissipate faster – so you’ll need to spray yourself again and again. With oils, I found we only need to do it once or twice while outside.

 

In this article, we’re going to talk about recipes you can make at home that you can use on yourself and your family to keep bugs at bay.

 

The bugs we’ll discuss are:

 

  • Ants
  • Flies
  • Wasps/Hornets
  • Mosquitoes
  • Ticks

The Go-To Essential Oil For Killing Insects

Yes, there is a single one you can depend on (although there’s more you’ll want to use). Orange essential oil kills insects because it destroys their exoskeletons. In any recipe you make yourself, be sure it includes orange essential oils.

 

A word of note: Citrus essential oils, in large quantities, can harm your cats because it interferes with their liver. (It’s fine with other animals.) If your kitties hang out outside a lot, then don’t spray orange unless you can be sure your kitties will not be outside for 24-48 hours. Use any of the other alternative oils we talk about in this article, and just make sure there’s good circulation.

 

Ants

I hate these buggers. They’re arrogant insects, thinking they can get into whatever sugar I leave on the counter and invading my home whenever suits them….but there is hope.

 

The BEST I’ve found to repel ants is cinnamon oil.

 

Because it’s so strong, it interferes with their neuroreceptors and they can’t send signals (by pheromones) back to their nest to come grab whatever goody they’ve happened upon. It unnerves them, and they leave the scene rapidly.

 

It’s satisfying to watch the insects scurry away.

 

You can apply cinnamon directly to the area you want the ants to leave, without dilution, or you can dilute 10 drops in 8 oz of water or rubbing alcohol. Shake before use, and spray away.

 

If you plan to spray it directly ON the ants, also mix 10 drops of orange essential oil into the spray bottle. (If you’re allergic to cinnamon oil, you can use any of the oils listed above as an alternative).

 

If you plan to spray it on yourself, dilute it with carrier oils like coconut or sweet almond, or dilute with water or alcohol. Cinnamon is a “hot” oil, meaning on people with sensitive skin or children, it can cause skin irritation. Be safe.

 

Flies

I hate flies even more than ants. They’re just as annoying insects, except they ACTIVELY try to get in your face.

 

I have a great article with my favorite recipe to get rid of flies with essential oils here. It’s the best recipe I’ve found, and it actually works. It includes lemongrass and eucalyptus (which have many more uses than fly spray, by the way).

 

Wasps/Hornets

 

  • Mint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella

Mix 8 drops of any of the above oils with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or any other oil you love. Rub it on your body to keep the suckers away.

 

In this article, I show you how to eliminate wasp nests with liquid castile soap – You can also add the above oils along with orange to the castile soap mixture to kill ‘em dead.

 

Word of warning: You don’t want to use the orange essential oils on your body to repel wasps  – it will ATTRACT them since it smells sweet (wasps are attracted to sweet smells), and it can trigger photosensitivity (potentially causing some nasty burns) if you plan to remain outdoors.

 

(Orange is otherwise VERY safe to use – just avoid it on areas that will be uncovered if you plan to be out in the sun for a while.)

 

Mosquitoes

Summertime is mosquito time on our farm. With all the poop we have, the rotten insects LOVE to build nests and breed….and freeload off our livestock.

 

Whenever we go outside, I grab my purple spray bottle containing the following oils (in equal parts, mixed with 8 oz of water). As a bonus, we all smell better.

 

Citronella : Everyone knows that citronella repels mosquitoes, and it’s my go-to oil to repel ‘em. You can mix it (in a roller bottle) with any of the oils we discuss below for a more powerful solution that’s convenient to put on.

 

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil has been used since the 1940s to repel mosquitoes, and is approved by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent.

 

Lavender: Lavender essential oil is great for relaxing and smelling good, but did you also know it can repel mosquitoes? Lavender can also be used to support healthy skin!

 

Ticks

Ahh…ticks. The lovely buggers that gave me lyme disease about 10 years ago. That was not fun…lots of yogurt, since I couldn’t eat anything else while I recovered.

 

These days, our chickens do a pretty good job of keeping the population down (yet another bonus to keeping a backyard flock), but if you plan to go camping or take a walk in the woods, here’s some essential oils you can put in a roller bottle or a spray bottle (along with water or alcohol – rubbing alcohol stays on longer) to repel the dirty insects.

 

You can mix and match 8 drops of oil with 8 oz of water or alcohol:

 

  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Cedar (cedarwood oils)
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Eucalyptus

 

The CDC has even said that the above are safe essential oils to repel insects (specifically ticks!)

The Best All-Natural Bug Spray Using Essential Oils!

The Best All-Natural Bug Spray Using Essential Oils!

Bug season is upon us….and when you have as many animals as we do, you have a LOT of flies!

 

I used to buy store-bought bug sprays, but after many years working at the FDA, I know what’s in them…and there’s natural options I prefer to use, especially on my kids.

 

(A lot of you have asked about which oils I personally use. Here’s everything you need to know!)

 

So, I’m going to show you how to use essential oils to make a safe, non-toxic bug spray that’s worked for us. 

 

There’s a couple variations depending on the scents you like best. I personally prefer to go with Lemongrass but you can switch it out with Lavender or any other scent you like.

 

The only thing to remember is that if you want to use a citrus scent, the oils can make you more photo-sensitive. So just keep that in mind before you use them!

 

You CAN leave oils for scent out, but I’ve found that Eucalyptus can sometimes smell medicinal….so if you’re sensitive to those smells or your kids object, consider adding something like Lavender.

 

The Eucalyptus and Peppermint do a great job at deterring flies and no-see-ums. We have one horse that’s particularly sensitive to no-see-ums, and he seems much more comfortable after an application.

 

How to Make A Non-Toxic Bug Spray With Essential Oils

 

For an easy to make all natural, non-toxic bug spray here’s what you can use:

 

  • 10 drops Lemongrass or Lavender for scent
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus
  • 10 drops Peppermint

 

Slowly drip each oil into a 10mL roller bottle (this is the brand I buy) and top with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil.

 

The roller bottle makes it super simple to apply to your body, and you can feel confident knowing that it’s totally safe for your kids.

 

Before going outside, simply roll the bug spray onto your neck, arms and legs.

 

This recipe also works as a spray for animals. You can mix it with 8 ounces of water and pour into a spray bottle. Just be sure to shake and mix before using for the best results.

 

You can spray it in your chicken coop to deter flies, however, I don’t recommend using it ON your chickens.

 

There you have it! A simple and easy bug spray you can make again and again in your own home!

 

(Ready to grab some essential oils so you can get bugs out of your life for good? Here’s everything you need to know!)