A common misconception is that insects only come out in the rainy season, preferring to spend their short lives huddled close to swamps and forests. However, anyone who has a garden, or spends a lot of time outdoors, knows that all seasons attract their own share of biting bugs. Autumn especially is known for the prevalence of highly destructive and supremely invasive insects like the emerald ash borer which can kill trees at an alarming rate. While mosquitoes may be the most prevalent, we also have to deal with bed bugs, fleas, ants, spiders, wasps, flies, and moths invading our homes.
Not only can they give you a good scare, but many of these insects can also do quite a number on your plants and garden. Whether in the house or outside, you can be prepared for these creepy crawlers and flying stingers. These are some extremely easy homemade bug repellents that you can mix up and carry with you anywhere in a spray bottle. They are mostly made from natural ingredients meant to smell refreshing and keep the bugs at bay! Give these repellents a try and see which one works best for you.
You’ve probably used essential oils in the past to give your home a welcoming fragrance with the help of a diffuser. Some natural oils can even act as highly effective pain-relievers or reduce symptoms of colds and the flu. However, many essential oils also work well as bug repellents and can be mixed into quick and easy-to-use sprays. The next time you’re stocking up on essential oils, keep an eye out for these:
Most small bugs are repelled by citrus oils, so you can add them to any homemade repellents you already have to make them more effective. Citronella has the added effect of acting as an insecticide. To make your own repellent, you just mix half a cup of water with half a cup of clear alcohol (like vodka) and add about 30 drops of citronella. A good substitute for straight alcohol is witch-hazel which is equally effective at keeping bugs away and tends to be kinder on the skin. Be sure to keep the spray away from your eyes though!
Here’s one essential oil that will keep your home mosquito-free and have it smelling fresh all the time. Much like citrus oil, it can be turned into a spray. In case of an ant problem, wipe down the area with a concoction consisting of 2 cups of water, a quarter cup of vinegar, and 10 drops of peppermint oil to keep them away. This oil can be toxic to dogs and cats, though, so be careful of where you spray it if you have a pet.
Both for your home and for your garden, clove oil can do wonders at getting rid of pests. Make your own spray using alcohol or witch-hazel and water. 1/10th of the mixture should consist of clove oil. Mosquitoes, moths, flies, and ants are all repelled by clove oil. Mixing it with eggs, milk, dish soap, and hot sauce will create a repellent for deer as well. Clove oil is pretty potent and can act as a skin irritant, so never apply it directly to your skin.
Given the anti-insect properties of cedarwood, it's no surprise that the oil makes an excellent base for a bug spray. It is considered to be relatively non-toxic when diluted and is effective against moths, fleas, and ticks. You can also add it to citrus oil bug repellent sprays to make them more powerful.
This oil works effectively as a household cleaning agent and as a mosquito repellent. An easy bug-spray can be made using half a cup of water and the same amount of witch hazel/alcohol, a little bit of vinegar, and around 30 drops of lemon eucalyptus oil. It also keeps away deer ticks, which makes it ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time in a garden. It is extremely potent and must be kept away from pets and children.
Castor oil is a major component in food, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, soaps, and cosmetics, and yes, insect-repellents. You can create an extremely effective repellent with 10 drops of castor oil and only 2 tablespoons of witch hazel or alcohol. The most popular use of castor oil is actually as a mole repellent, though it works equally well against other underground animals like voles and gophers, as well as against household rodents like mice and rats.
Neem oil is the ultimate multipurpose gift from nature and is something you should always keep stocked. It has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. It also acts as both a mosquito repellent and a natural insecticide. It is often added to shampoos to get rid of lice. You can make a bug spray out of it or you can put a few drops on your clothes before you go out. But be wary of the smell if you do, because pure neem oil can be quite pungent.
Homemade lavender soaps made from essential oils can do wonders for ensuring insects give you a wide berth. Though lavender oil alone can be used as a base for a bug-repellent, it is most effective when added into sprays that contain the other essential oils listed above. It not only adds to the potency of the repellent but also enhances the fragrance.
If bug-sprays aren’t working for you, there are other ways essential oils can be used as repellents or insecticides. One popular alternative is creating DIY Bug Repellent candles. You can make these by mixing a little bit of the essential oil of your choice in with the wax just before it starts to cool. You can also make your candle using natural beeswax.
The best oil to use, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of mosquitoes, is citronella oil, due to its dual roles as both repellent and pesticide. Add a hint of lavender oil to sweeten the smell. You simply need to light the candle whenever you see the number of mosquitoes in your home rising. It also has a longer-lasting effect than most sprays and a longer shelf life.
Another way of making use of candles to repel insects is to buy and light plain unscented candles and add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice to the top just after the wax melts a little. Be extremely careful while doing this though, as most essential oils are known to be highly flammable.
This is actually one of the easier solutions for dealing with pests, both insect and mammal. If you happen to be a coffee-lover, then this also gives you an excellent opportunity to recycle. Just sprinkle your leftover coffee grounds outside the doorways of your home and around the plants in your garden.
Most bugs, like fruit flies, beetles, and pests like rodents and deer dislike the smell of coffee beans and will usually avoid it. Placing them in your garden has the additional benefits of providing more nutrients like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus to your plants, promoting healthier growth. You can also put them in a bowl and keep them in the corner of a room to keep the mosquitoes away.
In addition to beetles, deer, and mosquitoes, coffee grounds can also work well against fleas. If your cat or dog is having a flea problem and you want to use a natural remedy, you can run the grounds on your pet’s fur after a bath. This may work at keeping fleas away, though it is by no means as effective as products prescribed by vets for getting rid of fleas.
Yet another alternative to the bug-sprays and scented bug-repelling candles is a homemade balm that acts as a bug-repellent. Heat cocoa butter, coconut oil, and natural beeswax in equal proportions until they are fully melted and liquified. While the liquid is still hot (but no longer being heated), add 15 drops each of lemon eucalyptus oil and citronella oil. Once the mixture has cooled, you can apply in small doses to your skin to keep the insects away from you.
You can make a similar mixture with olive oil instead of cocoa butter, and with cedarwood, peppermint, and tea tree oil mixed in. These three oils can be incredibly nourishing for the skin. Ensure the oils are added while the liquid is still hot but as it begins to cool, as excessive heat could nullify some of the beneficial properties of the essential oils.
If you do not have or perhaps do not wish to use essential oils, there are other options like coffee grounds and banana peels (which keep aphids away and fertilize your plants). If you happen to grow herbs in your garden, however, there may be another option for you.
There are a variety of herbs that you can boil and add to a mixture of witch hazel and water to create an effective bug spray. Dill, basil, thyme, rosemary, and sage all contain elements that act as insect repellents and some have the added benefits of nourishing your garden.
The most popular herbal bug spray you can make requires mint, citronella, and catnip. Crush one cup full of these fresh herbs together and heat it with equal parts water. When the liquid is boiled, drain out the herbs and mix the concoction with witch hazel after it cools. Pour the whole thing into a spray bottle that you can use both indoors and outdoors.
Both lemon and garlic have properties associated with insect-repelling uses. In fact, garlic tends to repel both animals and bugs due to the presence of allicin. This chemical found in garlic has a distinct smell that most animals and insects tend to dislike. Lemon juice is acidic and can be used to create boundaries that insects will not cross.
Mixing the two together can create an especially potent repellent, usually best used outdoors as it can be sticky, but is equally effective indoors with higher concentrations of lemon and water. You can make this spray by first crushing cloves of garlic and then soaking them in mineral oil for at least one day. Mix the oil (after all the garlic is filtered out) with a few teaspoons of lemon juice and 2 cups of water.
You can pour your repellent into a spray bottle or you can add dashes of it to areas in and around your home that tend to attract insects. Just ensure you shake the mixture well before applying to ensure it is properly used.
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