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Homemade Bug Spray and Prevention


Summertime is one of the best seasons for breaking from your normal routine and getting back outside to do the things you love to do.  The days are long and the nights are warm giving you and your family ample time outside to do things that the weather may otherwise limit during the rest of the year.  Backyard barbeques and weekends away turn more into events than simple moments.  In short, summer is one of my favorite times of the year.   


The trouble is that with the full onset of summer, so to do we begin the experience the full onslaught of insect season.  Now depending on your area, you may or may not have to deal with some of the more common and annoying insects.  The big ones in my neck of the woods are mosquitoes and ticks.  

I can’t stand these little “suckers” at any point in the year, but I am especially fed up with them during the summer.  We recently hosted a cookout with some close friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years, and were having a delightful time until the sun just started to set.  As if by magic, the entire gathering was overrun by a cloud of mosquitoes that required us to hastily gather everything and relocate inside. 

This by no means is the end of the world, but it is a common nuisance that we have to deal with each summer.  Bites from mosquitoes are no fun, especially for my youngest child who has somewhat severe reactions to mosquito bites.  We are a firm believer in the effective use of bug sprays as a way to keep the bugs at bay, though are becoming less and less willing to reach for the big commercial products so well known to us. 

When I was younger, I never had a problem reaching for an aerosol container of whatever bug spray contained the most deet.  Anyone who has spent any time in the woods or has bought any commercial bug sprays if no stranger to this additive.  It is well known for its great ability to keep bugs at bay.  The trouble is that it isn’t the best option when it comes to the health and well being of you and your family. 

More and more I am starting to see less toxic options appear as the continued push against the use of deet grows.  We generally use spray products that are labeled as family safe and are rated as safe for children.  Some of these still contain deet, though at a greatly reduced concentration.  Industry standards still list deet as being acceptable to use on children and adults, though the concentration of deet needs to be within a certain range based upon the age of the child. 

A lot of times, the other options I am seeming have active ingredients like picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil.  While each of these are by no means natural ingredients found in nature, they are far closer to being considered natural than deet. 

The second active ingredient mentioned above is an example of an essential oil.  These are starting to gain more and more traction as their uses become more widespread.  There are too many ways people are using these oils to mention in one article, but one of the most intriguing ways these oils are being used is in homemade bug sprays. 

What is the benefit to making a spray at home?  Well for starters, you know just what you are getting if you make it yourself.  There are a wide variety of oils on the market as well with varying levels of purities from a range of sellers.  This means you have options when it comes to what and whom you are dealing with when you purchase your oils.

If you want to make a simple homemade bug spray, try this method.  All you will need is a small spray bottle, some distilled water, a bottle of witch hazel, and some of your preferred essential oils.  Once you decide to produce your own spray, you will soon realize just how many types of essential oils are on the market.  This may seem overwhelming, but you may want to consider some of these options.

  • Citronella
  • Tea Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary

There are more out there, but using a blend of any of these may help you to find a scent that you enjoy that also has the repellent characteristics you need.  The basic recipe for a homemade bug spray is to:

  1. Fill your spray bottle halfway with distilled water
  2. Add witch hazel to the mix until nearly to the top of the bottle
  3. Put 30-50 drops of your preferred essential oil blend
  4. Shake well before use
  5. Reapply every several hours as needed

This recipe is for an 8 oz. spray bottle.  If the bottle you are using is larger, consider adding more drops of essential oils.  The more you add, the stronger it will be.

Something to consider when using essential oils is that these all contain natural compounds. Caution is best used when applying essential oils in any situation.  It is recommended to avoid using essential oils on young children below the age of three or in small amounts if unsure about how your body will react to a particular compound.  If you know you have an allergy to a particular product, avoid using it in your bug spray. 

Bug sprays are one of those things that you should always have when preparing for a day hiking in the woods or an evening by the pool.  It’s a fact of life that we always have to deal with bugs even if we don’t want to.  Just remember that you have options when it comes to how you deal with these pests. 

If you want to rely on chemical agents, deet may be your best friend.  If you want to avoid this particular option, you do in fact have choices.  You can make your own or can buy an organic or all natural product from another retailer.  In the end, just do your homework and decide on an option that you feel comfortable with and will work best for both you and your family.

3 Responses

Joe Gleason
Joe Gleason

August 08, 2016

Glad you all enjoyed the article! It is a pleasure to spread this kind of information and I appreciate the feedback greatly.

Doug Smith
Doug Smith

July 21, 2016

Grteat idea, great article! Thanks

JP Keesy
JP Keesy

July 21, 2016

Great article, thank you. I have used essential oils for a short time but each time I look up the essential oils alternative in the many books available I am pleased at how well they actually work. Thanks again.

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