It’s that time of year when we flock outdoors to bask in the sun and enjoy Mother Nature. Well, some of Mother Nature we enjoy: It’s also the time of year we run indoors to escape from mosquitoes and other biting insects.
Mild winter temperatures and wet springs mean hordes of biting bugs. Unfortunately, for most of America, that describes this past winter and spring. What’s a person to do? Besides spending all the summer covered head to toe in clothing, which is not even practical in hot weather, the option is insect repellent.
Most of the commercial insect repellents on the market contain EPA approved chemicals, such as DEET. The problem with DEET for many people is that it’s a chemical, and it goes on the skin. The skin is porous, so anything that goes on it becomes absorbed into the body. So many chemicals are now in the average person’s body there’s a term for it, body burden.
Body burden refers to the amount of man-made chemicals that accumulate in the human body. The CDC report on human exposure to chemicals says there are at least 212 chemicals in the blood and urine of the average person. Another study commissioned by the Environment Working Group reported that the umbilical cord from ten newborns had over 200 chemicals in them. It’s no wonder people search for and want to use natural remedies.
In addition to the chemical issue, many people have had an allergic reaction to DEET with rashes and blisters. DEET has also been found to be harmful to the environment. It’s been found in water supplies and can kill wildlife.
The other issue with biting insects is no matter the intention and effort to keep them away, bites happen. Plant-based insect repellents help with the itching and healing; they also soothe the skin and are very simple to make. Below are recipes for a natural bug repellent and anti-itch spray.
Essential Oil Bug Spray
Lemon eucalyptus, rosemary, and catnip essential oils are known to repel bugs. Witch hazel is a natural astringent and anti-inflammatory that heals, cleanses, tones, and calms the skin.
Native Americans were well versed in the benefits of witch hazel for skin issues. It’s also been a primary ingredient in many well-known skincare brands since it was first introduced commercially in 1846. While witch hazel is skin friendly, it’s also useful as a carrier for the essential oils.
8 oz glass spray bottle
1 cup Witch hazel
15 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops rosemary essential oil
15 drops catnip essential oil
Blend all ingredients thoroughly. Pour into the 8 oz spray bottle. Shake before using. Do a patch test on the skin to make sure there is not an allergic reaction. After spraying the repellent on the skin, lightly rub it in.
As with all insect repellents, be careful not to spray it around the eyes. Also, reapply the repellent after being outdoors for long periods of time.
Essential Oil Anti-Itch Spray
This recipe has peppermint, chamomile, and lavender essential oil. Witch hazel is also an anti-itch ingredient. Peppermint essential oil is cooling, a pain reliever, and antiseptic. Chamomile and lavender work as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and is calming.
4 oz pump spray bottle
½ cup witch hazel
7 drops peppermint essential oil
7 drops chamomile essential oil
7 drops lavender essential oil
Blend all the ingredients thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the bottle. Massage one to two drops on the affected area. Use as needed. When using essential oils, do a patch check to make sure there is no allergy.
Other Suggestions to Keep Bugs Way
- Add the essential oils used in the bug spray to a diffuser to keep bugs away on the patio or deck.
- In the yard, plant insect repellent herbs such as citronella, thyme, lavender, rosemary, basil, lemongrass, and mint.
- Do not make your yard attractive for mosquitoes: Remove all standing water. Weekly clean birdbaths and replace the water.
Natural insect repellents and anti-itch sprays use the resources of nature instead of man-made chemicals to repel bugs. They are easy to make and smell good too.
The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated this information. This article is not meant to diagnose, prevent, or treat any illnesses, conditions, or diseases.
Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns (July 14, 2005). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns#.WwXXA6lJmA8.
Guiterrez, David. DEET chemical now being found in municipal water supplies (Nov. 19, 2010). Retrieved from https://www.naturalnews.com/030446_DEET_water_supply.html.
Odor, Tom. 12 plants that repel unwanted insects. Retrieved from https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects.
Weil, Andrew, 10 Uses for Witch Hazle. Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/supplements-remedies/top-10-uses-for-witch-hazel/.