Spring is here and with that means the coming of bugs. Even though there is a one-size fits all approach to bug repellents, there shouldn’t be. Some bugs are attracted to certain scents when others are not. Though you’re fighting off one bug you may be attracting another. Regardless of how you feel about bugs (I mean, some are cool, right? and some are gross), I have a few essential oils that repel bugs.
It’s hard to find a blend that works for everyone because everyone is different and essential oils can have different effects on the user. A blend that works for one person may not work for another, and if you’re like me, the commercial bug repellents NEVER work anyway. Also, remember to read the disclaimer here if you haven’t already!
Essential oils that repel bugs
First things first, I just have to get this off my chest: LEMONGRASS DOES NOT REPEL BEES. In fact, lemongrass essential oil is often used to lure swarms of bees to hives/boxes (see here, here, and here). Because I have a small super of bees, I just choose not to use lemongrass at all for bug repellant.
I feel like I should also say I’m not talking about a way to kill bees around you–simply to get them to leave you alone because let’s be honest, it’s kind of freaky when you find them in your hair…or is that just me? Anyway, it’s hard to find information on plants that actually repel bees because I mean, bees pollinate so many things, but here is a bit of what I learned and what I use:
Supposedly the only plant that has been proven to repel bees is wormwood, and I’m wondering if that’s just because it’s so bitter. Either way, I don’t have wormwood essential oil, but I think we have some wormwood that grows on our property that I can forage this summer, so I plan to do that and infuse it in some witch hazel.
What I use to repel bees:
Rosemary contains borneol which is a natural insect repellent and because of this, I use rosemary in my own bee repellant blend, along with peppermint and wild orange essential oils. For now, I add two drops each to a carrier oil and rub the blend on my neck, chest, and arms. I plan to use 10 drops each of rosemary, peppermint, and wild orange in a 4 oz bottle and top with witch hazel. I’ve noticed that when I use this blend and sit next to my hive the bees seem to fly around me rather than landing on me. Occasionally one will land, but I am sitting right next to the hive so I kind of expect that.
What I use to repel ticks:
I use only one essential oil to repel ticks and have found it to be extremely effective–and that oil is rosemary. The CDC actually lists rosemary as one of the plants that repel ticks. To make your own tick spray add 30-40 drops rosemary essential oil to a 4 oz glass bottle and top with witch hazel. It’s as simple as that! I have a bit more info from the Facebook live video I did here.
Other oils that repel ticks: citronella, cedarwood, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass (again, I don’t use this because of the bees), and melaleuca (aka tea tree).
Oils that repel mosquitos:
I haven’t tried any oils for mosquitos yet, but I plan to this year. For the most part, mosquitos tend to stay away from me, but last year they were pretty obnoxious even for me. So I plan to use a blend of vetiver, geranium, and patchouli (10 drops each, 4 oz glass bottle, topped with witch hazel). All of those oils have bug repellent properties and happen to be a few of the oils I used for the DIY beard oil as well.
Some other oils that repel mosquitos: lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, basil, and lavender.
What essential oils do you use that repel bugs?