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.



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).




  • 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.)



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:


  • 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!)

Natural Fly Repellent You Can Make In Your Kitchen (Really)

Natural Fly Repellent You Can Make In Your Kitchen (Really)

Tired of gross chemicals in your fly repellent? Me too. Want a natural alternative? Cool, I have one.


It’s a dilemma we have every summer – do we suffer the flies or load ourselves with questionable chemicals?


There was a time when we would use any fly repellent that worked – it didn’t matter what it contained, as long as the bugs were away.


So, I started researching alternatives to over-the-counter fly repellents, which included researching essential oils that might work, and I came up with some great information.


I just wanted a simple, straight forward way to make fly repellent whenever I needed it without waiting, and using all natural ingredients that I already had on hand.


After some research, I developed an all natural fly repellent using organic herbs, and I’m going to share the recipe with you.


My recipe for all natural fly repellent requires 4 ingredients: Lavender, peppermint, water, and witch hazel.


Just having the plants around, however, isn’t enough of a repellent – you need to release the essential oils in the plant to light a fire under its effectiveness. 


Luckily, that’s a pretty easy thing to do.


You can make this today, in your own kitchen, with just a few ingredients.


Want a natural alternative to chemical-filled bug sprays? Here's a recipe for natural fly repellent you can make in your own kitchen - today. From FrugalChicken


1. Choose your herbs



For this recipe, I used peppermint and lavender. Both are grown organically here on the homestead, and are a natural addition to any herb garden.


Lavender is one of those power herbs you should have in your garden, and its been researched and proven to be a natural fly repellent on its own – I’m not sure why, but flies hate it.


Lavender also has the beneficial side effects of being a natural calming agent, and its great for skin – and in fact, whenever I use this natural fly repellent, my skin is softer.




The other herb I chose to formulate a natural fly repellent is peppermint. The strong scent is reported to get rid of even the most stubborn fly.


I sell it in my online store right here.


Want a natural alternative to chemical-filled bug sprays? Here's a recipe for natural fly repellent you can make in your own kitchen - today. From FrugalChicken


But it gets better:


Mosquitoes hate it too, making this another power herb you should have on hand to use as a natural repellent.


Peppermint is great to energize you, too.


I use stems containing the leaves, but it comes down to probably 3 or 4 tablespoons of herbs.


I don’t recommend dry herbs for this fly repellent – they don’t have the same level of essential oils as fresh herbs because they lack the moisture content.


2. Release the essential oils


If you’re using herbs, then the first step to creating your natural fly repellent is to release the essential oils in your herbs – they will be one of the active ingredients in your fly repellent.


This is a very basic way to create an essential oil mixture, and although it’s not the method used by essential oil companies, it will work well to create a natural fly repellent.


To release the herbs’ natural essential oils, you need to crush them slightly, then combine them with boiling water.


Want a natural alternative to chemical-filled bug sprays? Here's a recipe for natural fly repellent you can make in your own kitchen - today. From FrugalChicken


Bring 2 cups of water to a boil – not a rolling boil, however, so reduce the heat just before to gets to that point. 


Once it’s heated, add your herbs. 


3. Allow your herbs to steep while the mixture cools



To make the natural fly repellent effective, you need to release the oils in the herbs – let the herbs sit in the water until it’s cool. 


Yup, it’s like making tea, and it will smell great.


Be sure to cover the herb mixture to keep the released essential oils in the mixture – as they release in the steam, the top will encourage the natural oils to drop back down into the water.


This is important because you don’t want to lose the most effective part of your fly repellent.


4. Remove the herbs, and add in the witch hazel


Strain the herbs from the water – I strain it into a mason jar.


Want a natural alternative to chemical-filled bug sprays? Here's a recipe for natural fly repellent you can make in your own kitchen - today. From FrugalChicken

The herb mixture before adding in the witch hazel


Now is the time to mix in your witch hazel, which will act as a binder, and keep the scent of the herbs on your skin longer.


Since water is absorbed by the skin quickly, you need something, like witch hazel, that will sit on your skin longer than a few moments for the herbs to be effective in your fly repellent. 


Want a natural alternative to chemical-filled bug sprays? Here's a recipe for natural fly repellent you can make in your own kitchen - today. From FrugalChicken


For this formula, I use a 1:1 ratio, so since you’ll use 2 cups of water, add in 2 cups of witch hazel. Just dump it right into your mason jar.


If you don’t like the smell of witch hazel, you can use rubbing alcohol, which is just as effective in a natural fly repellent.


5. Stir to combine, and add your fly repellent to a spray bottle


Want a natural alternative to chemical-filled bug sprays? Here's a recipe for natural fly repellent you can make in your own kitchen - today. From FrugalChicken


Once everything is mixed together, you have your natural fly repellent. Just pour it into a spray bottle, and it’s ready to use immediately.


Spray it on yourself before heading outside – it’s safe for children too, since the herbs’ natural oils have been diluted in the water and witch hazel.


Oh, yeah, and it doesn’t contain any chemicals, which is great for kids too.


6. Some notes:


If you don’t like the smell of the witch hazel, you can use rubbing alcohol instead. 


You can use citronella as well as peppermint and lavender. I’ve used it as well, but left it out of this recipe since not everyone has it growing in their garden. You can purchase citronella essential oils to use in your fly repellent, and it works great.


If you want to get citronella essential oil, by clicking here.



While no fly repellent is 100% effective against bugs, going all natural is a great choice if you’re looking for an effective alternative to chemical-based products.