Words can hardly describe how excited I am about this gardening weather! My plants have been planted, the compost bin is finally seeing some action, and Abby is proudly donning her sun hat!
The only real downsides of the summer are sunburns, unflattering swimsuits, and bugs.
I’m sure all bugs serve some ecological purpose, but if it were up to me, I’d wipe mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers from the face of the earth.
Yep, I’d kill them all. No remorse.
But since I can’t actually do that, I’ll have to settle for repelling them in the safest way possible. If you’ve ever read anything about DEET, you probably read about its questionable toxicity. We do know that it can be fatal when ingested, so why put it on your skin? When it comes to putting potentially toxic chemicals on my body, I err on the side of safety and avoid them — especially with Abby.
Thankfully, there are several essential oils that have proven to be effective at repelling certain bugs while being harmless to humans. I experimented with these last summer with great results, so I’m sharing my recipes and tips with you today. You’re welcome 🙂
Natural Mosquito Repellent (Spray):
There are several essential oils that reportedly repel mosquitoes, so a combination of any of them added to witch hazel/vodka and water makes a nice bug spray. You could also purchase doTerra’s repellent blend, TerraShield, and combine it with your witch hazel and water mixture — whichever you prefer.
Oils that mosquitoes dislike:
- TerraShield (repellent blend)
- Melaleuca (AKA tea tree oil)
- Clove (use sparingly — it’s very strong!)
- Peppermint (avoid if nursing)
I personally like to cover all of my bases, so I use TerraShield and add other oils to it until I get a fairly strong (but not unpleasant) smell. Here is my recipe for a 4-oz. spray bottle (preferably glass):
- 1/4 cup witch hazel (or vodka)
- 1/4 cup water
- 20 drops TerraShield
- 5 drops Cedarwood oil
- 5 drops Lemon oil
- 5 drops Lavender oil
- 3 drops Peppermint oil
Combine all in spray bottle and shake before each use.
Again, use whichever oils you have, blend them however you like, and make sure the smell is potent!
Like the mosquito repellent, there are several different recipes online for tick repellent. Many of them contain vinegar, which is fine if you don’t mind smelling like vinegar, but I’d rather use it to kill weeds than put it on my skin.
A little internet research taught me that these are some common natural ingredients used to repel ticks:
- Melaleuca (tea tree oil)
- Eucalyptus oil
- Peppermint oil (again, avoid if nursing)
- Lemon oil
- Geranium oil
I prefer to use geranium oil because it has a nice scent and because its efficacy in repelling ticks has actually been shown in a research study (science, people!). This study found that geranium oil is actually as powerful as DEET!
Depending on your outdoor activity, you may want tick repellent in a spray form (similar to the mosquito repellent recipe) or diluted with a carrier oil in a rollerball applicator. Since ticks can’t fly (thank God!) and I don’t typically roll around in the grass, I prefer to dilute about 10 drops of geranium oil in fractionated coconut oil and apply it to my ankles using a rollerball tube (purchased via Amazon). Rollerball applicators are small, easy to fill and use, and are great for taking on camping or hiking trips!
Bug Bite Soother:
Because I don’t always have my bug repellent on, basil oil is my best friend in the summer (well, that and aloe vera)! For some reason mosquito bites don’t bother me that much, but chigger bites make me miserable. Whenever I visit my parents and take even one step in their yard, I’m guaranteed at least one chigger bite.
To call it a chigger “bite” is an understatement, because a chigger is actually a mite that drills a tiny hole and injects digestive enzymes that destroy the surrounding tissue. It then drinks the fluids from our skin cells through a tube called a stylosome. Our skin becomes irritated by the drilling and enzymes, and reacts with large, firm bumps or a rash that is intensely itchy. And the more you scratch, the more swollen and itchy the site becomes.
Chiggers bother me so much that the itching interferes with my sleep. I hate them!
Last year, when I was really getting into essential oils, I read that basil and lavender are good for soothing bug bites, so I decided to give them a try. The lavender didn’t really do much, but the basil oil worked instantly — no more itching!
Basil oil is an essential oil that can safely be applied “neat,” which means you can put it on your skin undiluted. You will probably want to apply it more than once, and definitely reapply after bathing. Try not to scratch the bite after applying though, because you will remove the oil and keep itching.
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You may think that essential oils are too expensive — and yes, they are quite an investment — but each bottle is extremely concentrated and lasts a long time. You can buy them directly from the doTerra or Young Living websites, from EO reps, or from sellers through Amazon for much lower prices. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just love my oils and everything I can do with them!
I hope this post inspired you to throw out your store-bought insect repellent and try a more natural, healthier approach to avoiding pesky insect bites. If you know any EO sellers, sometimes they will give you a small sample to try before you purchase a whole bottle. I encourage you to look into EO’s and how they can help you rid your home of toxic chemicals and enjoy the outdoors safely.
Happy gardening! 🙂
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Also try my soothing Sunburn Spray!