With sultry summer days upon us, it’s easy to get swept up in the beauty of the outdoors, until you get your first bite. With mosquitoes out in record numbers, it’s hard to imagine enjoying the outdoors without some thought on bug repellent. For those of us looking for a gentler, less abrasive solution, we tested out two natural solutions. Made from ingredients like essential oils and witch hazel, they weren’t as effective as a chemical filled spray, but they helped reduce the amount of insect bites we incurred. How do you battle the mosquitoes this time of year?
Wellness Mama’s Make Homemade Bug Spray:
1. Fill spray bottle 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water.
2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top.
3. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be.
This recipe is a gentle, non-toxic recipe that combines essential oils and witch hazel and was gentle enough for children to use. For use on really little ones, we suggest diluting with water so that it won’t irritate their delicate skin. Witch hazel has astringent properties and when combined with certain types of essential oils, works to repel those pesky insects. Effective oils include citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree*, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender and mint. One little tip from us: no matter what essential oil you choose as your base scent, add a few drops of citronella. It really is the most effective deterrent.
We really liked the combination of tea tree, eucalyptus, mint, citronella, and lavender. The lavender added a calming and sweet smell to the spray.
Four Thieves Vinegar
1. Start with 16oz ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
2. Add 1 tablespoon each of dried Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Thyme and Mint
3. Place all ingredients into a glass jar with airtight lid, store in a dark place for 2-3 weeks. Each day give the jar a shake to make sure the herbs keep blending with the vinegar
4. After three weeks strain the herbs out and fill a spray bottle with half water and half of the vinegar mixture. Place your spray bottle in the fridge and it’s ready for use.
This recipe works well, but be warned: when you first put it on, it’s very smelly! Don’t worry, though, the smell subsides. Variations of this recipe can be found all over the place. It was invented sometime between the 14th and 18th century by thieves to protect them from the plague as they plundered the dead. To start, try making a small batch. Since you cut the mixture in half with water, it goes a long way.
Most of the herbs used in our bug sprays are naturally fragrant and can be planted around the yard, deck, or play areas to keep pests away. Lavender is a favorite because it is beautiful and smells wonderful. Citronella and catnip are also great additions to any bug repellent landscaping plan. While you’re planting around the yard, keep an eye out for spots that encourage pests like mosquitos. Any stagnant bodies of water need to be removed or cleaned regularly. Fountains and fishponds are fine as long as the water is moving or regularly agitated. One spot many of us don’t think about, the gutters. When drains are clogged water can pool and create an environment for bugs.
*Please note that tea tree oil is not safe for cats, so please use caution if you are a cat owner.