bug repellant mosquitos Jul 10, 2020

I live on top of an oak tree, so I’m used to interacting with my share of bugs. We have a general understanding that we leave each other alone, but sometimes they get a little too friendly. I’ve found that an organic bug / mosquito repellant is the best way to say ‘Bug Off’ without putting anything toxic on my skin.

This DIY Bug / Mosquito repellent uses a group of herbal aromatics that bugs and mosquitos don’t like, so they keep their distance. It’s easy to make by infusing these fresh herbs, or you can use essential oils, which are faster to use, but can be more expensive. 

I’ll walk you through both options - 


Herbal Infused No-squito

Citronella Leaf. 4 parts

This beauty from the mint family is a powerful mosquito repellent and is a common ingredient in most outdoor bug repellent candles and organic sprays. 

Lemongrass 2 parts

Available at many grocery stores, this is easy to find and adds another level of bug deterrent to your formula.

Rosemary 1 part

The natural oils in Rosemary will help carry the scent of your repellent into the air surrounding your body, so the bugs will tend to stay a little further away from you. It’s also a natural repellent in it’s own right.

Geranium 1 part

Geranium has been a key player in herbal bug repellents for hundreds of years, making geranium a valuable landscape plant near patios, pools and picnic tables. The oils are composed chiefly of geraniol, citronellol, linalool, and citronellyl formate.

Peppermint or Patchouli .5 part

I like adding peppermint to bring a cooling element to the spray. I usually use this formula in the summer, and if it’s hot outside and I’m going to spray something on my neck and arms, it can feel hot and sticky. The minty action of peppermint keeps me cool and comfy! 

For 1 quart of finished spray, use ¼ cup when you see the word ‘parts’. Sp, 1 cup citronella, ½ cup lemongrass, ¼ cup Rosemary, ¼ cup Geranium, and ⅛ cup Peppermint or Patchouli.

Macerate the herbs (chop them up or break up the leaves to open up the plant material) and place the herbs in 1 quart of Distilled Water.

Bring to a low simmer and cover for 30-45 minutes. Allow the water to cool to room temperature and strain the water, throwing away the herb material. Measure the infused water and add 1/3 of the total water in alcohol, preferably Everclear. This should give you close to a quart of finished ‘Bug Off’ with a ratio of 3 parts infused water, 1 part Everclear. In a pinch, clear Vodka works too but it doesn’t have the same microbial power as Everclear, and you’ll smell like - Vodka. 

If you’d prefer using essential oils to create a bug repellent, that works too!


Essential Oil No-squito

Start with 1 cup of organic, virgin olive oil, minus 2 teaspoons. 

Anywhere you see ‘parts’ in the herb formula above, just use ¼ teaspoon which equals 25 drops.

With that formula in mind, here are your measurements for 1 cup of oil. 

  • Citronella 1 teaspoon
  • Lemongrass ½ teaspoon
  • Rosemary ¼ teaspoon
  • Geranium ¼ teaspoon
  • Peppermint ⅛ teaspoon

Once you’ve added your essential oils to your Olive oil, blend completely. 

Optional: Add ⅓ cup of Everclear 

  • (available in small amounts in most states, including California.) The everclear is the only alcohol with a high enough ethanol level to ensure stabilization of your oils and to guard against microbial growth. Many herbalists use Vodka for tincturing and just use Vodka for this process with essential oils as well, but it won’t properly stabilize the oils and your formula could easily grow mold or bacteria. Anytime I work with Essential Oils, I use this fantastic reference for preserving and stabilizing.  

Store into an air tight glass container of your choice, and enjoy a bug-free Summer!


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