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:
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.
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.
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).
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.)
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!
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:
- Cedar (cedarwood oils)
The CDC has even said that the above are safe essential oils to repel insects (specifically ticks!)
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.