How to Make Herbal Insect Repellent

Herbs can keep bugs at bay

Creating homemade bug repellent is both economical and healthier than using modern chemicals. They make you smell unattractive to any would-be pests and confuse the bug's hormonal responses that tell a bug when and where to feed.

Neem-Based Broad Spectrum Bug Repellent

Neem makes a great base for herbal bug repellent. It has a very strong, deterrent scent, and it creates an oily barrier between the bug and its target. Neem also causes hormonal havoc, blocking the triggers that tell bugs to feed and mate. A bug that has trouble feeding means it may not want to suck your blood, and one that won't mate means fewer of his (or her) kind will be coming around.

Unfortunately, neem has a really unpleasant smell, so you will want to mask that with some more pleasant selections. You can find neem at your local health food store or order it through NOW Foods.

General Recipe

  • 10-25 drops of at least two different essential oils (Choose from the list below.)
  • 2 tablespoons of carrier oil or alcohol (olive, coconut, almond or any cooking oil, witch hazel or vodka)
  • 5 drops of neem

Mix ingredients and put them in a squirt or spray bottle. Test your skin with a small amount in one spot to gauge skin sensitivity. If you've had no reaction within twenty-four hours, you can use the bug spray as needed by spraying and rubbing it into your skin. Use enough to cover the exposed areas without leaving a noticeable residue.

Choosing Your Essential Oil

Because of their strong scents, most herbs, spices and pungent foods are highly unappealing to bugs. Some are especially good deterrents even though they smell pretty good to most people, and their oils provide a very potent, concentrated form that is easy to apply to the skin.

Nearly all herbs will have some deterrent effect on a wide variety of pests, but there are certain choices that are particularly good for deterring specific bugs. Combining two or more oils increases the breadth of insects you'll be able to keep away. Choose an essential oil based on the type of pest you want to avoid or what scent you prefer.

  • Ticks: English pennyroyal, tea tree oil, rosemary, dalmatian pyrethrum
  • Mosquitoes: Catnip, lemongrass/citronella, tansy, feverfew, thyme, mint, basil, sage
  • Fleas: Mint, rosemary, dalmatian pyrethrum, eucalyptus
  • Lice: Tea tree, lemongrass/citronella, rosemary, eucalyptus
  • Bees, hornets, wasps: Lemongrass/citronella, eucalyptus, thyme, mint
  • Gnats: Marigold, lemongrass/citronella, tansy
  • Bed bugs: eucalyptus, clove, rosemary

Home and Garden Bug Repellents

You can also make bug repellent for your home and garden using the same recipe with the following essential oils.

  • Ants: Cinnamon, mint
  • Slugs: Wormwood, rosemary
  • Flies: Mint, lemon basil, sage
  • Moths: Lavender, mugwort, sage, chamomile, hyssop, wormwood
  • Beatles: Peppermint, catnip, savory, oregano, tansy
  • Aphids: worms, caterpillars: Tansy, rue, anise, basil, fennel, dill
  • Spiders: eucalyptus, rose, lavender
  • Roaches: Catnip, bay leaves, osage orange

A Natural Solution

When you want to keep creeping, crawling or flying pests off your skin, look no further than these tried and true herbs to create a bug repellent spray. You can also grow these herbs and keep them in your home, and around your yard and garden to keep bugs at bay.

How to Make Herbal Insect Repellent