As we head into the warmer season, bugs, insects and mosquitoes are emerging from their winter hibernation. My home seems to have two seasons, winter and mosquitoes (monster size ones at that) which has me reaching into my essential oils cupboard for solutions.
Generally, any strong scented essential oils will be effective at deterring insects as they dislike the smell. Surprisingly and happily, insects are averse to some rather nice smelling oils. For instance spiders hate peppermint, while ticks won’t go near geranium. Additionally, there are a couple of other natural repellents that you could use. We love herbal infusions, which are cost effective and work well. Also try selected indigenous oils - a uniquely South African solution for our insect problems.
The following make good 'bases' for which to add essential oils to, but also have their own insect repellent properties.
Witch hazel - a good natural dilutant and insect repellent.
Peppermint leaf infusion - a strong insect repellent. The tea is also useful for headaches and indigestion, and the infusion can be added to your DIY shampoo - a handy herb to have!
Neem leaf infusion - neem is well known for its pesticide and insecticide properties. The neem tree is a natural insecticide for your garden.
Buchu leaf infusion - an indigenous herb that is useful for repelling insects
African wormwood infusion or artemisia infusion - these wormwood varieties are great for deterring insects, ticks and fleas on pets and can be used as a base for an insect repellent spray. The living plant is also a natural insect deterrent.
To make an infusion, steep a quarter cup loosely packed leaves in 500ml boiling water (can use less if you want). Soak overnight then strain.
Neem oil - neem oil is a potent insecticide and repellent. Beware of the very strong smell!
Wormwood oil - a great insect repellent and useful in pet shampoos for tick and flea prevention.
You can use any combination of the above essential oils in your insect repellent.
If you have animals and want some ideas for anti-tick and flea shampoos and rinses, have a look at The Natural Pet P2 blog.
Being a family of arachnophobes, the folks behind the scenes here at Essentially Natural share their tried and trusted non-toxic insect repellent recipes:
Vicki takes the approach of throwing ‘everything’ in a bottle and making sure all entrances, surfaces, nooks and crannies receive a generous spray, to prevent spiders in her home.
Vicki’s Spider Repellent
8 drops geranium
8 drops cedarwood
15 drops peppermint
8 drops eucalyptus
8 drops lemongrass
8 drops lavender
8 drops rosemary
1 tsp neem
Mix all together in a spray bottle and spray generously around crevices, entrances and other likely spider hide-outs.
Brad’s potent solution is sure to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Brad’s Mozzie Spray
½ c water
½ c spirit vinegar
½ c witch hazel
1 T of Mom’s vodka
10 drops rosemary essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
30 drops citronella essential oil
30 drops geranium essential oil
Mix the water, vinegar, witch hazel and vodka. Add the essential oils and mix well. Use a funnel to pour into the spray bottle and shake well before use. Spray on as required.
Flies will hate a eucalyptus, lemongrass and peppermint mixture in a base such as vodka, witch hazel or a peppermint infusion. Burning or diffusing these essential oils into the air will also help keep pesky flies away.
Diatomaceous earth is your answer here. You can also make an anti-ant spray using peppermint essential oil, but I find diatomaceous earth works quickly and effectively. Simply sprinkle and pack into crevices and around ant entrances. Make sure you use food grade diatomaceous earth if you have pets or children.
A few drops of cedarwood oil on an absorbent cloth helps repel moths in wardrobes.
Make your own moth-repellent sachets by using any of the following: bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, dried lemon peels, eucalyptus leaves, lavender and pepper corns.
Spiders hate peppermint essential oil, many of you will be glad to hear, and as an added bonus it smells fabulously refreshing and is a great air freshener on warm days and evenings as well. Make your own simple spray by mixing 1 cup water with 1 tsp peppermint essential oil. Shake and spray around doors,windows and cornices.
Enjoy your insect-free home, naturally!
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