Natural Insect Repellents
Overview - clove as mosquito repellant
Neem oil

Visit Cautions page before using essential oils

Eucalyptus citriodora is a good insect repellent. - flea repellant
citrus oil - mosquitoes
peppermint oil instead of deet - mosquitoes
Pest Repelling Essential Oils
Many plants have pest repelling properties. Some are better at repelling a specific bug, and some repel more general bugginess. Below are some essential oils that pests don't seem to like.

Most sources recommend diluting essential oils before applying to skin as they can cause irritation. If you want to apply them directly to the skin, do so at your own discretion.

To get the maximum effect, crush herb leaves in your hands to release their perfume, and then rub the leaves and their oils over your skin. Here are eight herbs that work great and can be kept in pots on a porch, near a door, or anywhere else you plan to congregate outside. 

Lemon Balm
This member of the mint family has white flowers and a gentle lemony scent, as well as some healing properties. It’s particularly good at keeping biting insects away, but it’s also an invasive species, so be careful when growing it.

This fragrant mint cousin contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which is both a feline attractant and a useful insect repellant.

A 2009 study showed that the essential oil from this delicious herb is toxic to mosquito larvae.

This beautiful, potent, and lovely-smelling flower not only repels mosquitoes but keeps moths and flies away. The flower’s perfume is well-known, and while it will scent the air, it’s still most effective when actually rubbed on skin.

In its concentrated form, peppermint is sometimes used as an insect repellent, and its essential oil has been shown to keep away the adults and kill the larvae of several species.

This perennial is actually marketed as “mosquito plant,” primarily due to its strong citronella-like smell. Unfortunately, though it’s the most heavily marketed, there’s some research that suggests it’s also the least effective at keeping away mosquitos. Still, there’s some benefits to be had from rubbing it on your skin, and if there’s nothing else around, it will provide some protection.

Sage + Rosemary
If you’re planning to gather around a fire, try burning a little sage or rosemary. The incense these plants give off when they burn not only smells good but is unpleasant enough to the little critters that it’ll keep them away—as long as you’re near the smoke.

When away from your garden, you may still need an organic bug repellant. We like Buzz Spray and Bite Blocker.


Common Essential Oils With Insect Repelling Properties
Absinth wormwood(artemisia absinthium) - fleas and moths
Lemon grass (Cimbopogon winteriana)
Lemon oil -
Lemon Eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora)
Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) - repels various insects, such as mosquitoes, biting flies and fleas.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) - repels mosquitoes
Geranium - repels ticks and mosquitoes
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) - repels mosquitoes
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) - repels mosquitoes
Pennyroyal - (Mentha pulegium) wards off fleas, ants, lice, mosquitoes, ticks and moths.
Peppermint - repels mosquitoes(in high concentrations), ants, flies, lice and moths
Spearmint - wards off flies
Soybean oil
Catnip - (Nepeta cateria) essential oil is highly effective for repelling mosquitoes, bees and other flying insects. The most active constituent in catnip has been identified as nepetalactone. It repels mosquitoes ten times more than DEET. It takes about one-tenth as much nepetalactone as DEET to have the same effect. I know, right?
Lavender - repels ticks.

Combine a few drops each of Citronella, Lemon (Citrus limon), Rose (Rosa damascena), Lavender and Basil essential oils with one liter of distilled water and spray liberally around the house to ward off indoor insect pests.

Duration Of Essential Oil Insect Repellents
Most of the above essential oils provide short-lasting protection usually lasting less than 2 hours.

The oils of Cymbopogon nardus (citronella), Pogostemon cablin (patchouli), Syzygium aromaticum (clove) and Zanthoxylum limonella were the most effective in studies and provided 2 hours of complete repellency.
Lemon grass oil repellency lasted for 2–3 hours (Oyedela et al., 2002).

Prolonged protection effects have been reported from 20% of the oil from turmeric, citronella, and hairy basil, especially with the addition of 5% vanillin as fixative in which they each can repel three species of mosquitoes for up to 6 hours.

In another study, Bourbon geranium, cedarwood, clove, peppermint, and thyme were tested for mosquito repelling effectiveness. Thyme and clove oils were the most effective mosquito repellents and provided 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours of protection, depending on oil concentration. Clove oil (50%) combined with geranium oil (50%) or with thyme oil (50%) prevented biting for 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.

The potential for using essential oils as topical mosquito repellents may be limited by user acceptability as some oils can be irritating to the skin.

Schinus molle - fleas

Credit For Content:
US National Library of Medicine
US Department of Health and Human Services
University of Maryland Medical Center
Institute For Science and Technology Research and Development/Chiang Mai University - Chiang Mai Thailand
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Division of Agricultural Chemicals, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi India
University of Minnesota
US National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Hansa Center for Optimum Health
The Magazine of Domestic Economy, Volume 5
The Herbalist by Joseph E. Meyer
Saint Louis University
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils In Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health, and Well Being by Julia Lawless
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health - In vitro efficacy of essential oils and extracts of Schinus molle L. against Ctenocephalides felis felis.
Rodale's Organic Life

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