Inspired by Better Basics for the Home, by Annie B. Bond (Three Rivers Press, 1999).
Are you mostly concerned about repelling ticks? Wasps? Mosquitoes? Black flies? It seems that all of us have our own unique set of problems when it comes to insects. The mosquitoes don’t seem to bite one person, but ticks love them.
Fortunately, there are specific essential oils that are particularly good for different types of bugs. Here is a very simple formula for making your own customized repellent oil, plus the very best essential choices for stinging bugs!
Here is an easy repellent to make that has a shelf life of around six months. Label jars “mosquito,” “tick,” etc. for quick identification.
1o to 25 drops essential oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil is fine)
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel (optional)
Combine the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake to blend. Dab on the back of your neck, each elbow and ankle or on your clothing if your skin is sensitive to essential oils.
Here are some suggestions for your choice of bug repelling essential oils:
Ticks: first choice, Rose Geranium
Other: Palmerosa, bay, eucalyptus, European pennyroyal,lavender, tickweed (American pennyroyal)
Mosquitoes: Pennyroyal, lemon balm (citronella), thyme, lavender. Lemon balm and catnip are especially good for warding off mosquitoes: Researchers at Iowa State University found the essential oil in catnip to be about 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Simply crush the leaves of any of these plants to release their scents and rub them on your exposed skin.
Blackflies: Sassafras, lavender, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, cedar, lemon balm (citronella), peppermint
Head Lice: Tea tree, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, rose geranium
Fleas: Orange oil
A note about wasps and yellow jackets: Don’t wear perfume, hair spray, or scented deodorant. Avoid wearing bright colored clothing.
If you are bitten or stung, try the following natural healing remedies.
Plantain, a common weed in yards and parks, can zap out pain, heat and swelling when its leaves are chewed and applied to a bite. Identify plantain by the five parallel veins that run the length of each leaf.
Rub aloe vera leaves on stings or bites to relieve burning sensations.
Ease itch by applying a few drops of lavender oil as needed.
BONUS EXPERIENTIAL MOMENT: My daughter had a severe case of chigger bites this summer and we used lavendar oil to ease the unbearable itch; two days later they were miraculously gone.