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Essential Oils That Repel Insects and Prevent Bug Bites

Carton pictures of insects with red line through each insect | Essential Oils That Repel Insects

One of the most commonly recommended essential oils that repel insects, especially as a mosquito repellent, is citronella. You can even buy citronella candles to burn on your patio or in your backyard. 

Another option to keep a space clear of mosquitoes is to diffuse citronella with an aromatherapy diffuser. If you don't like or don't have citronella, you can also use eucalyptus radiata, lemon, lemongrass, or peppermint essential oil. 

This article contains essential oil recipes to keep insects off of you. For insect control around the home, see getting rid of pests such as ants and roaches.

Caution: Some of the suggested essential oils, especially citronella and lemongrass, can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Spot test to check for a reaction before extensively using blends.

Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent

For a simple, natural mosquito repellent to apply to your skin, use one of the best essential oils for mosquitoes: Mix 25 drops of citronella in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil or lotion.

A blend may offer better protection. Here are some suggestions.

Mosquito Repellent Spray and Lotion

Add the following to a four-ounce spray bottle:

  • 100 drops citronella essential oil
  • 100 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 100 drops eucalyptus citriodora essential oil
  • 300 drops coconut emulsifier or other emulsifier of choice

Fill the balance of the bottle with distilled water. Shake well before use. Re-apply every 1-2 hours.

You can also make a lotion: Add the three essential oils to a 4-ounce bottle. Fill the bottle with plain unscented lotion. Mix well. Re-apply every 1-2 hours.

Source: Aromatherapist Annette Davis in "Natural Bug Repellent and Bug Bite Relief Blends." NAHA Aromatherapy Journal, Summer 2013.2, pp. 59–60.

Mosquito and Insect Repellent Oil

If you don't like the scent of citronella, try this insect repellent oil to deter mosquitoes and other tiny critters:

  • 8 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops orange essential oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop peppermint essential oil
  • 1 drop clove essential oil
  • 1 drop cinnamon essential oil
  • 4 tablespoons carrier oil

Blend ingredients. Apply liberally to your skin, keeping it out of your eyes.

Source: Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art

Mosquito Be Gone Spray

Blend the following essential oils in a two-ounce spray bottle:

  • 25 drops cedarwood
  • 25 drops patchouli
  • 15 drops geranium
  • 25 drops Eucalyptus citriodora
  • 10 drops peppermint

Fill the balance of the bottle with distilled water. Shake well before applying. Re-apply every 2-3 hours or after getting wet.

Source: Aromatherapist Jade Shutes in "Natural Bug Repellent and Bug Bite Relief Blends."

Mosquito and Insect Protective Formula

Blend the following essential oils in a small, dark glass bottle:

  • 40 drops palmarosa
  • 20 drops lemongrass
  • 10 drops lemon tea tree
  • 10 drops atlas cedarwood
  • 10 drops patchouli
  • 10 drops peppermint

To use this blend with carrier oil, make a 10% dilution. Rub on exposed areas of skin.

You can also make a spray by adding 10 to 15 drops of the blend to a one-ounce mister bottle filled with purified or distilled water. Shake well before using. Gently mist onto clothing or around an area you want to protect, avoiding eyes or other sensitive areas.

Source: The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide

For more about essential oils for mosquitoes: "Comparative Repellency of 38 Essential Oils Against Mosquito Bites" in the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal, Summer 2013.2, pp. 10–18. The abstract is available on PubMed.

Blends of Essential Oils That Repel Insects

Here are a variety of blends for general protection from insects.

Bug Off Skin Oil

Blend the following ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons carrier oil
  • 5 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 4 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 2 drops geranium essential oil
  • 1 drop citronella essential oil

For convenience you can make this oil in a plastic squeeze bottle.
Source: Aromatherapy: A Holistic Guide to Natural Healing With Essential Oils

Essential Oil Bug Spray and Face Oil

Essential Oil Bug Spray

Note: Do not use this spray on your face.

  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 75 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 75 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 50 drops lime essential oil
  • 50 drops lavender essential oil
  • 50 drops geranium essential oil
  • 4 tablespoons vodka
  • Jojoba oil
  1. Mix ingredients, except jojoba oil, in a spray bottle and shake well.
  2. Rub some jojoba oil onto your skin.
  3. Spray a minimal amount of the mist on your skin.

Face Oil

Blend ingredients and apply to your face as needed.

  • 2 teaspoons carrier oil
  • 4 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 4 drops cajeput essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil

Source: 500 Formulas For Aromatherapy

Essentail Oil Insect Repellent

Combine these ingredients in a 4-ounce spray bottle:

  • 4 ounces German chamomile hydrosol
  • 8 drops palmarosa essential oil
  • 8 drops spikenard essential oil
  • 4 drops patchouli essential oil
  • 6 drops cedarwood essential oil

Blend all ingredients in the spray bottle. Shake well. Use as needed.
 
Palmarosa helps protect the skin. According to The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia, palmarosa hydrates skin, has antiseptic properties, balances all skin types, regulates oil production, and may help cells regenerate.

Source: Aromahead

Aloe Vera Bug Repellent Blend

Blend the following essential oils that repel insects with 4 ounces of aloe vera gel:

  • 20 drops eucalyptus citriodora
  • 10 drops lavender 
  • 10 drops geranium
  • 12 drops catnip

Source: Aromatherapist Kelly Holland-Azzaro in "Natural Bug Repellent and Bug Bite Relief Blends."

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I recommend Young Living essential oils.



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