Summer is officially here, which means so are the bugs. If you’re sick of spraying toxic chemicals to ward off insects, I’m here to tell you that there is another way: an all-natural way – that is safe for you and your family. You guessed it! Essential oils. Today, we’re talking about the best essential oils to repel bugs. 

Essential oils are incredible alternatives to chemical-laden bug repellents. But before we get into why essential oils rock and our favorites, let’s talk about the risks associated with conventional bug sprays.

For starters, chemicals like pyrethroids, permethrin, cyfluthrin, and DEET are neurotoxins that wreak havoc on our central nervous system. Plus, the anti-caking agents and the preservatives that aren’t required to be listed on the ingredients list!

Essential Oils Buying Guide

Let’s make a pact this summer that we’re going to stop spraying toxic chemicals all over and around us to repel bugs, and instead, let’s opt for all-natural repellents like essential oils. 

First, we’re going to talk about the top 5 essential oils to repel summer bugs, and then we’re going to give you easy recipes to make at home! Get ready to say see ya to summer pests!

5 Essential Oils to Repel Summer Bugs 

Citronella 

I don’t know if you are a camper, barbecuer, or late-night-beach-stroller — whatever your summer activity, you probably encounter mosquitoes. There’s nothing so close to a party crasher/party-ruiner than a cluster of mosquitoes. And if you’re looking for an all-natural, reliable bouncer, then look no further than citronella essential oil. 

This killer essential oil comes from the citronella plant, also known as the mosquito plant! In 1948, the U.S. registered citronella as an all-natural pest-repellent – and it’s still true today.

I know you’ve seen citronella candles, citronella sticks, and citronella body sprays, but what if you could create your own mosquito repellents (that you trust) at home!? 

Tell me more, right?! Okay, so, instead of opting for store-bought citronella products, invest in citronella essential oil to naturally repel mosquitoes. Not only will you save money in the end, but you’ll also be creating something that you know is safe for you and your family.

Here’s how to do it: add 2-3 drops of citronella essential oil to a tablespoon or so of coconut/jojoba oil. Massage onto exposed skin areas. Bonus: this is also an antifungal and antibacterial DIY topical. For an easy pre-made spray, check out the recipe below. 

Citronella Bug Spray 

Send mosquitos, gnats, chiggers, and other disease-carrying bugs on their way with this natural insect repellent. 

Ingredients 

  • 4 ounces of water 
  • 24 drops citronella essential oil 

Instructions:

  1. Add water and citronella essential oil to a dark-colored glass spray bottle and shake well to combine 
  2. Spray onto clothing and exposed skin 
  3. Shake bottle and repeat every 1-2 hours as needed 

Peppermint 

Mosquitos and other summer pests hate the smell of peppermint—kind of like how those over the age of 17 hate the scent of Axe cologne. 

Peppermint essential oil is known to repel bugs. It was also found to kill mosquito larvae on people after exposure (1). One study from the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that applying peppermint essential oil to just one arm of a participant protected both arms from mosquito bites for over 2 hours (2)! Pretty cool, right? 

Now you have options: Diffuse peppermint while you’re lounging outside, apply 1-2 drops with a carrier oil to your pulse points, or add it to your homemade mosquito repellent. The scent will uplift the humans bringing that summer energy alive while eliminating unwelcome guests. 

Tea Tree 

Summer is all about the outdoors: going on long walks, hiking, getting down, and getting dirty. If you have kids like me, you want to be fully armed when lice, fleas, and ticks show up. This is where the tea tree comes in. This potent antimicrobial will deter and kill lice, biting insects, ticks, fire ants, spiders, and fleas. 

But that’s not why tea tree is one of our favorite essential oils to repel summer bugs. It’s also because tea tree is antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, which means it is incredible to prevent bacterial infections and reduce discomfort, pain, swelling, and itching.  

To use tea tree essential oil to repel bugs, add 1-2 drops to a carrier oil and apply to skin. You can also diffuse tea tree while lounging on your back porch or add it to a homemade bug spray. We’ll talk about more DIY recipes below – don’t worry. 

Eucalyptus 

Oh, the wonderful smell of eucalyptus that opens up airways and gives us a breath of fresh air! We love it, but for pests (aphids and mites included) it’s a death trap on the first touch. Use eucalyptus to confuse mosquitoes and ward off ticks, sandflies, and midges.  

Simply add 2 drops to a little bit of carrier oil and apply to skin or diffuse on your porch or patio. 

Lavender 

Were you shocked to read that?! I don’t know how something with a sense of smell could hate lavender essential oil, but mosquitoes! Kick those summer bugs to the curb with lavender essential oil. 

Give your skin some love by adding 2-3 drops of lavender to your favorite organic moisturizer and massage onto skin. Not only will it help soothe skin, but it will also help keep bugs at bay. 

Essential Oils Buying Guide

Consider planting some lavender in your garden for some extra defense. 

How to Use Essential Oils to Repel Summer Bugs 

See Ya Bugs Spray Repellent 

  • ½ cup witch hazel 
  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • 40 drops of essential oils of your choice (try citronella, tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, geranium) 
  • Dark-colored glass spray bottle (8 ounces at least) 

Instructions: Add all ingredients to the spray bottle, shake well to mix, spray all over the body and area 

Go Away Bugs Bug Spray 

  • 20 drops citronella essential oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 9 drops geranium essential oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil 
  • 1 teaspoon neem oil (optional) 
  • 1 tablespoon vodka 
  • Distilled water 
  • Dark-colored glass spray bottle (8 ounces at least) 

Instructions: add essential oils followed by neem oil if using and vodka. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake well to combine. Spray exposed skin areas as well as clothing. 

Mosquito Repellent Spritz Spray 

  • 1 oz Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil 
  • 5 drops citronella essential oil (or lemongrass) 
  • 4 drops eucalyptus essential oil 
  • 2 oz dark colored glass spray bottle 

Instructions: add ACV and then essential oils to spray bottle, shake well to combine, and top off with water. 

Deep Woods Insect Repellent Oil 

  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil 
  • 4 drops neem essential oil 
  • 5 drops of cedar essential oil 
  • 2 oz of carrier oil of your choice 
  • 2 oz dark-colored glass bottle

Instructions: combine all ingredients and shake well. Apply before going out into the woods to protect against ticks and other crawling and biting bugs. 

Mosquito Repellent Diffuser Recipe 

  • 3 drops citronella essential oil 
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops geranium essential oil 

Instructions: add oils to your diffuser and place it on your deck or porch at least 20 minutes before going outside. 

Fwef! That was a lot. But I mean, bugs are a lot, a lot! Are you ready to send those party crashers packing with essential oils? Me too. Let me know in the comments below which recipe you are most excited to try! 

Cites 

  1. Natural Living Ideas (2017). “5 Best Essential Oils To Repel Common Bugs, Insects and Pests.” Retrieved from: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/essential-oils-to-repel-bugs-pests/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609176/

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