Staying inside to avoid the bugs? Arm yourself with an herbal bug repellent.

homemade bug spray repellent

It’s the perfect time of year to take a walk. Just imagine breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the scent of flowers, and the buzzing of mosquitoes by your ear! Okay so perhaps the melodic buzz of mosquitoes is far from a relaxing sound, but it is a reality as you set out on your beautiful summer walk. Rather than staying inside to avoid the bugs, why not face them armed with an herbal bug repellent?

The first step to making your own bug repellent is choosing high quality essential oils to combine in your bug spray blend. Look for therapeutic grade essential oils. These oils are safe to use on your skin and do not contain unknown fillers.

There are countless plant-based essential oils which can be used to create a bug spray which help to deter pests like mosquitoes. Some of the herbal essential oils to use include:

    •    Rosemary
    •    Lavender
    •    Geranium
    •    Citronella
    •    Lemongrass
    •    Tea Tree
    •    Eucalyptus
    •    Peppermint
    •    Spearmint
    •    Cedar wood
    •    Clove

Next you will want to choose your carrier oil. A carrier oil helps to safely dilute the essential oils so that they do not irritate your skin. Oils such as jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, olive oil or neem oil are all great choices.

Below is a recipe for a basic herbal bug spray. Feel free to choose different essential oils to suit your taste and needs.

Herbal Bug Spray Recipe
2 tablespoons Carrier Oil
2 tablespoons Witch Hazel
1 tablespoon Distilled Water
10 drops Eucalyptus
10 drops Cedar wood
10 drops Lemongrass
10 drops Lavender

**If using on children replace Eucalyptus with another essential oil such as spearmint.

Combine the ingredients in a 3oz amber glass bottle with a spray top. The dark glass will help preserve the bug spray for later use. Shake bottle before each use.

As with any home-made product, be sure to do a test patch on your skin before trying the bug spray on your whole body.  Every person’s skin is unique and will react in differently when exposed to different essential and carrier oils. Make decisions based on what you know about your skin type and be aware that young children have more sensitive skin.

**Please note, for those of you traveling to areas in which the Zika virus is a potential issue, please consult the CDC website for the most up to date information on proper precautions and bug sprays to utilize.


Danielle Simmons, Horticulture and Animal Interactions
Inspired by her childhood experience of play in the forests of upstate New York, Danielle has devoted her career to connecting human wellness with a deeper engagement to the natural world. Danielle planted and manages the greenhouse and the garden beds at Sunrise. She enjoys teaching guests the many uses of herbs, from first aid to making herbal teas and salves. When she is not being inspired by the big trees and abundant water at Sunrise, she is enjoying time with her family and their organic garden, which they tend on their homestead south of Santa Fe.