To mosquitos and other biting insects, the human race is a giant walking buffet. Some of us are as popular of a target with them as the roast beef carving station, while others seem to attract all the attention of room temperature Brussels sprouts.
Those of us not lucky enough to be passed over naturally by winged diners must use artificial means to repel these pests. But that doesn’t mean our only choice is expensive insect repellents and the complex, questionable chemicals they contain.
There are plenty of recipes for homemade insect repellents using natural ingredients and common household products. With a bit of trial and error experimentation, we can all find a personal favorite recipe to make us an unappetizing dish to pests.
Some folks only need a single ingredient to ruin insect appetites. Vicks VapoRub is a popular rub-on choice, as is a cotton ball dab of original flavor Listerine antiseptic mouthwash. Dryer sheets rubbed on skin and clothing, then hung on a belt loop or inside a tent, have been credited with saving outdoor adventures from mosquito mayhem.
For those who find we need something more, the key ingredient in any spray or rub-on recipe is the strong scent of essential oils. These are widely available at chain department and drug stores or online. Choose the oil based on the bug you are targeting.
Mosquitoes: Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint,
Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.
Flies and Gnats: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Melaleuca, Patchouli, Peppermint and Rosemary.
Ticks: Cedarwood, Geranium, Melaleuca, Peppermint and Thyme.
Now let’s get to the recipes that can ruin insect appetites:
Lemon Eucalyptus Mosquito Repellent
Ingredients: lemon eucalyptus oil, sunflower oil or witch hazel
Directions: Mix one part lemon eucalyptus oil for every 10 parts of sunflower oil/witch hazel. Rub or spray on skin.
Lavender Vanilla Mosquito Repellent
Ingredients: 15 drops of lavender essential oil, 3 to 4 tbsp. of vanilla extract, 3 to 4 tbsp. lemon juice, distilled water
Directions: Pour first three ingredients into an 8 oz. spray bottle. Finish filling bottle with distilled water. Shake to combine ingredients. Spray on skin or clothing.
Homemade Mosquito Repellent
Ingredients: 16 oz. of rubbing alcohol, 3.5 oz. of whole cloves, 3.5 oz. of baby oil or another type of oil (almond, sesame, chamomile, lavender, fennel, etc.)
Directions: Place cloves in alcohol and leave to infuse for four days, stirring every morning and evening. After four days, strain the alcohol into a spray bottle and add the oil. Shake well before use. Spray onto skin or clothing.
Mosquito and Tick Repellent
Ingredients: 6 oz. witch hazel, 2 oz. castor oil, 5 drops cinnamon oil, 15 drops eucalyptus oil, 15 drops citronella oil
Directions: Combine all ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well before each application.
Organic Insect Repellent
Ingredients: 5 ml. neem oil, 2 ml. liquid soap (organic), 1 liter distilled water
Directions: Pour water into spray bottle. Add neem oil and liquid soap. Shake and apply directly to exposed skin.
Lavender Mosquito and Tick Repellent
Ingredients: ¾ c. baby oil, ¼ c. witch hazel, 2 tbsp. vanilla extract, 10 drops lavender oil
Directions: Mix in spray bottle and shake before use.