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Natural Bug and Pest Repellents

August 29th, 2012 Healthy Living

As the summer months become numbered, you might be tempted to maximize the last of the warm weather by spending evenings outdoors. But you won't be alone outside - pests like mosquitoes are bound to appreciate your company as well by getting a taste of you. While you may usually opt for a commercial bug spray, that might not be the best option. According to, many insect repellents contain diethyltoluamide or DEET. While more than 30 percent of people use DEET annually, it can cause skin irritation, rashes and blisters. The source notes that it's thought to have a correlation with neurological damage and death in children and adults. It's also detrimental to the environment.

Your best bet may be to go with natural options that will still be effective, but won't be a threat to your health or the great outdoors. Here are a couple of methods and organic recipes to keep those bugs at bay.

Flame on

An ideal bug repellent that doesn't require you to lather up before you go outside is a citronella candle. notes that citronella is a lemon tree native to Australia, so not only is it completely natural, but it has a sweet citrusy scent. Citronella candles can be purchased at hardware stores as well as outdoor supplies retailers. While they're helpful for warding off pests, their range of effectiveness isn't that big, so they should mainly be used when everyone's in close proximity, such as at a picnic table.

Tiki torches add an exotic flair to any occasion and you can also put citronella in them. They'll burn brightly and the strong flame's sure to provide a powerful defense.

Make your own

There are two important elements in every homemade insect repellent. The first is the chemical that will drive the insects away and the second is a carrier that will transport the scent to form an invisible protective barrier around you. The carrier, according to, is usually alcohol-based, while the repellent is an oil with a scent that wafts through the air such as citronella or clove oil.

One good recipe that suggests using contains 1 ounce of witch hazel, 1 ounce of grape seed oil, 35 drops of citronella oil, 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oils, 15 drops of lemon essential oils, 15 drops of lemongrass essential oils and 15 drops of cedar essential oils. All you have to do is mix these ingredients in a bowl and dab it on with a cloth, or you can apply it by using a spray bottle.

You can tailor your natural bug spray recipe to have a specific scent or serve a certain purpose. To get a minty concoction, notes that all you need is to add ½ teaspoon or ¼ teaspoon in a spray bottle and mix in 1 cup of isopropyl and 1 cup of water. If it's a little cooler outside and you already have on long sleeves, you can make a repellent that can be applied to your face by combining 4 drops of sandalwood, 4 drops of cajeput and 4 drops of lavender. For a carrier oil that won't burn the sensitive skin on your face or irritate your eyes you can use extra virgin olive oil. If you don't have time to make your own natural insect repellent there are a few companies that produce them such as Burts Bees, which uses the standard Lemongrass, Citronella and other essential oils. You can also check out Whole Foods or your local health food store for organic options.