The Best Natural Insect Repellents
I’m a bug magnet!
If there is a mosquito or midge around, you can be guaranteed it’s going to bite me before anyone else.
But I really don’t want to use traditional insect repellent. The active ingredient DEET in most of them has been linked to neurotoxicity and damage to our environment and waterways.
However, mozzies can carry disease like dengue, Ross River, malaria and lyme, so we do want to have some form of protection when they are around. There are some much safer, natural ways to keep mozzies and bugs away, apart from gassing everyone with the Aeroguard!
I’ve discovered that just like sunscreen, how well they work will depend on your chemical make up! It’s not an exact science, so try a few out and see what is the most effective for you.
Here’s what you can do to avoid being bug food this summer:
On your body:
♥ Natural Bug Spray
There are so many good ones out there these days! Just remember to apply liberally and evenly all over your body and apply regularly, particularly if you are sweating or swimming. To apply to the face, spray on your hands and rub over.
♥ Vanilla Mozi. Queensland mum Lea-anne has created somewhat of a cult following with families living in tropical areas swearing by her range! Vanilla Mozi is based on pure essential oils and natural plant oils, beeswax and shea butter.
Lea-anne’s products are quite different in that you use them like a moisturiser on all exposed skin. It is suitable for children and babies 5 months and up (but if your kids have sensitive skin, you may want to patch test). It smells of vanilla and spearmint and kids love it, so you won’t have to wrangle them to apply. Vanilla Mozi is also good for soothing bites!
You can also get insect repelling soy candles and wax melts from Vanilla Mozi too. The 100ml pump bottle with a locking top is $18.95 here.
♥ Bug-Grrr Off! This one is a best seller at my friend Jo’s online store. She says they fly off the shelves (see what I did there??) Bug-Grrr Off uses scientifically proven REPELLIN, a lemon scented eucalyptus extract. It is available in 2 hours or 6 hours protection in both spray and roll ons. Suitable for adults and kids over 12 months.
♥ Miessence Bushflower Body Spray. This certified organic spray uses a combination of pure essential oils and organic herbal extracts. Tea Tree, Lemon-Scented Tea Tree and Citronella oils combine with the effective natural repellent properties of India’s Neem tree.
125ml spray bottle $18.75 here.
♥ Bug Another. This certified organic repellent in a 125ml spray bottle contains antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties. It can also help prevent itching from insect bites.
♥ Eco by Sonya Organic Personal Outdoor Spray. This repellent is in a 100ml spray bottle and based on certified organic essential oils of basil, lemongrass and citronella. Suitable for adults and children.
♥ Eco Kid Bug a Bug. This spray is an all natural, hypoallergenic bug repellent, based on unique Australian indigenous oils combined with wild harvested organically certified Andiroba Oil to hydrate and nourish. Suitable for all ages.
200ml spray for $17.95 here.
♥ First Light. This is a spray made with lots of love and 95% organic ingredients. It comes in a 100ml pump spray and is safe on kids over 12 months. It can be used to relieve bites too.
♥ Vanessa Megan. This range contains two 50ml roll on options – Bug Off My Baby especially designed for babies under 2 and the general Bug Off Me. My friend Simone from Nourishing Hub recommends these when she travels overseas to tropical countries.
$19.95 and $18.95 here.
♥ Physic Garden Bug Balm. This delicious balm is formulated by a naturopath and contains Citronella, Lemongrass, Geranium & Eucalyptus essential oils in a soothing shea and chickweed base. Suitable for ages 2 and up.
♥ Wear long sleeves and pants in a lighter rather than a darker colour. Interestingly, our kindy was located in a botanic gardens and was a mozzie haven – they definitely liked the kids wearing dark clothing more! Also avoid perfumes as they can attract bugs.
♥ DIY Bug Spray
Aromatherapist Kim Morrison swears by her insect repelling recipe. She says to add 15 drops of Immune Boost essential oil blend to a 50ml spritzer bottle filled with water to make the best insect repellant. Just be careful when using around children – you may want to spray onto their clothing and hats instead of their skin.
♥ Neem Oil
Neem oil smells disgusting. But it is very good at keeping bugs away. We use this if the mozzies are really, really bad. It works really, really well but yeah… stinky! You should be able to find it at health food stores or pharmacies. You could also try this Neem roll on which is neem oil mixed with some essential oils.
♥ Wristbands and Patches
There are a number of wristbands and patches on the market that protect against mozzies. These usually work with an infusion of essential oils. Some have replaceable pads, others are disposable. Check out some of the best mosquito bands here.
Note: Insect repellent is generally not recommended on children under six months old unless specified. Use mosquito netting around the cot and pram and cover up with clothing.
Around the house:
♥ Avoid being outside at dawn and dusk as these are prime times for mozzies. Shut your doors and windows around these times as well.
♥ Get good screens on your house (and remind the kids to shut them!)
♥ Use yellow globes in outside areas – bugs are not as attracted to them as they are to regular bulbs.
♥ Grow mozzie repelling plants in your outdoor areas – lemon balm, catnip, basil, rosemary and lemon geranium.
♥ Use an electric bug zapper to attract bugs away from you.
♥ Put a fan on so mozzies find it hard to land on you.
♥ Use mosquito netting around beds at night time.
♥ Keep your yard tidy and regularly inspect for anywhere water can sit – gutters, pot plant saucers etc
♥ Use an insect repelling candle like this gorgeous one from Blue Mountains business, Ikou. It comes in a little tin, so it’s perfect for travelling. Vanilla Mozi also make insect repelling candles and wax melts for burners.
♥ Diffuse essential oils around the house. Those with insect repelling properties include: citronella, geranium, tea tree, lemongrass, peppermint, lemon, rosemary, thyme and spearmint.
A great bug repelling recipe for your diffuser is 2 drops of citronella, 2 drops of lemongrass, 2 drops of peppermint and 1 drop of lavender.
How to soothe insect bites:
Sometimes, no matter how careful we are, those pesky little insects will manage to find us and bite us! There are many people who seem to flare up quite badly after being bitten. Here are some great natural remedies to soothe the bites.
♥ Our of our natural new age mums and homeopath, Clare Stride makes this amazing ‘Bites Blend’ to soothe insect bites and reduce pain and inflammation. This homeopathy blend is totally safe for everyone from babies to the elderly, easy to take and there are hundreds of doses per bottle. You can read more about it here.
To order your Bites Blend, please email Clare directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). They are normally $30 a bottle, but if you mention NNAM, you can get it for $25 until the 11th of December 2016.
♥ Make a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water and apply to bites.
♥ Use straight Apple Cider Vinegar on bites or a diluted compress for larger areas.
♥ Emu Oil is great for bug bites that flare up and cause pain and itching. Just break a capsule and rub in!
♥ Weleda Bites and Burns Cooling Gel is a natural and safe option for insect bites (and sunburn!)
♥ Place a hot teaspoon directly on the bite for a few minutes. Just hot water from the tap on the spoon for a minute is hot enough – don’t burn yourself! The heat kills off the protein the bugs leave behind and prevents the itch.
♥ If you are covered in bites, one of our readers recommends alternating bicarb and apple cider vinegar baths to soothe.
♥ Aloe vera works well as a soother too – either straight from the plant or a natural gel.
Well that was a bumper post! I hope it was useful to you. Please get in touch if you try any of these out and how they work for you!
If you liked this article, you may also like some of these:
Aromatherapy Recipes for your Oil Burner by Judy Chapman.
The Aromatherapy Bible by Gill Farrer-Halls.
Essential Oils Pocket Reference by Life Science Publishing.
Environmental Working Group
Parts of this article are sponsored.