Natural Bug Deterrent Alternatives

Natural Bug Deterrent Alternatives

Insects play a very important role in maintaining the ecosystem and are beneficial to the environment in many ways. They help in pollination, decomposition of organic matter and in keeping the population of pests under control. Although these creepy crawlies offer so many benefits to the environment, they aren’t so welcome inside the house.

When it comes to repelling insects, there are tons of products out there in the market that can give fast and effective results. But most people these days prefer to opt for natural bug deterrents because the products that are available in stores contain toxic chemicals that can cause side effects in humans such as severe respiratory problems, allergies and skin disorders. Fortunately, there are several natural bug repellent alternatives that can help get rid of the insects in the most effective and safest manner. Let’s see what natural insect control alternatives are:

Cinnamon – holistic bug repellent

A great way to keep insects out of your house is to sprinkle cinnamon around the house. It’sbelieved that if you apply cinnamon in a line around the point of entry of the insects, they won’t dare to cross it.

The oil extracted from cinnamon leaves is used to get rid of cockroaches, mosquitoes, head lice, bed bugs and dust mites. According to studies, pure cinnamon oil is very effective in killing mosquito larvae and can be used as an all-purpose natural pest repellent.

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You can make your own natural insect repellent by adding a few drops of cinnamon oil to your sunscreen or body lotion. The use of cinnamon is not only easy and natural, but it is inexpensive as well. So, now you know how to make ahome remedy mosquito repellent.

Onion – natural safe bug repellent

Another natural ingredient that is effective in keeping away insects is onion. Insects seem to hate the taste and smell of onion. Making an insect repellent using onion is very easy.

Try out this natural bug spray. Just chop up some onions and put them in a bowl containing 500ml of water. Let this mixture stand for a day, strain it the next morning and then dilute it with 20 ml of water. Spray this liquid around insect affected areas every two weeks until the insects disappear. It can also be effectively used as bug spray for babies. Applying little onion juice to babies feet also serve as natural bug repellent for babies

Planting onion near other plants will help keep away insects from your garden.

Lemongrass – mosquito repellent

Lemongrass is a natural mosquito repellent that really works. Studies indicate that lemongrass has insect repelling properties and the oil extracted from it can be used as an alternative insect repellent that can be as effective as the ones that are commercially sold in the market.

The oil contains constituents like citral and citronella, that are toxic to the insects and hence keep them away. The best bug spray available in market often contain citronella. The lemongrass oil does not contain any toxic chemicals that can be harmful to the human body. Not only is it organic, it is very affordable too. When combined with other natural repellents, such as citronella, basil, clove, rosemary and lavender, the power of lemongrass in repelling insects is amplified many folds.

You can make your own essential oil bug spray using lemongrass oil. Lemongrass is key ingredient in most natural mosquito control techniques and herbal mosquito repellent.

[Read more about Health benefits and medicinal properties of Lemongrass]

Vanilla Extract – for personal insect repellent

Vanilla extract can be used as a natural insect repellent. A very simple concoction made with vanilla extract as the main ingredient works well against insects such as flies, mosquitoes and gnats.

Mix a tablespoon of vanilla extract with the same amount of water and you get an insect repellent with an amazing smell. In addition to water, you can also add essential oils such as lemongrass oil, citronella oil and peppermint oil. Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and wipe it on your skin. Make sure to apply it all over the exposed areas.

The repellent effect of vanilla extract usually stays for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. You can reapply the mixture on your body once the effect starts to diminish.

Soybean Oil – an natural insect repellent oil

Soybean oil is used mostly as a cooking oil, but research has shown that it is also an effective insect repellent. It is an active ingredient in Bite Blocker insect repellents and is found to be capable of providing protection against mosquito bites for about 5 to 7 hours, which is way more than any other plant-based repellent that has been ever tested.

Furthermore, a study conducted in 2011 that used a combination of a few other essential oils with soybean oil for repellent tests, showed that soybean oil may be the best option for home made natural insect repellent mixtures.

Citronella Oil – insect repellent oil

Citronella oil, an essential oil obtained from the stems and leaves of a particular species of lemongrass known as Cymbopogon is a biopesticide with a non-toxic mode of action. Studies have proved the oil has mosquito repelling qualities. It is also effective in repelling body lice, head lice, and flies. Citronella oil is used widely throughout the world as an ingredient in candles, perfumery, soap, incense, cosmetic, and flavoring agents. If you look at ingredients of insect repellent candles available in market, you ought to find citronella.

An insect repellent lotion can be prepared by taking equal quantities of citronella oil and water and whisking the emulsion until it forms a creamy white colored lotion. You may have to reapply the lotion every 30 to 60 minutes, since the effects usually wear off by then.

If you are looking for an essential oil bug spray, citronella oil must be one of the key ingredients. Citronella oil is amongst best essential oils for mosquito repellent.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil – best mosquito prevention

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is a natural oil that is extracted from the lemon eucalyptus tree. It is recommended by experts as an alternative to N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). In fact, several studies have found this oil to be as effective as DEET in getting rid of mosquitoes. It is also found to be effective in eliminating ticks.

Today you will find many natural lemon eucalyptus oil mosquito repellents. These are natural mosquito repellent that works effectively.

Mint Leaves – plants that repel mosquitoes

Another fantastic natural insect repellent alternative is mint leaves, which might always be available in your kitchen. In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, mint has also been used as an effective remedy to get rid of insects. It is particularly useful in keeping away insects like ants, mosquitoes, flies and moths.

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Mint leaves can be used in many ways to keep the insects at bay. Crush some mint leaves to release their scent and some of the natural oils, and place these around areas of your house, where the insects are particularly problematic.

You can also make an insect repellent spray by mixing 5 parts rubbing alcohol with one-part peppermint oil. Spray this mixture on your body before you go out. So, add mint to your garden plants; these plants that repel mosquitoes too!

White Vinegar – for organic bug spray

Vinegar is a natural ingredient that you probably have in your kitchen cupboard all the time. Not only is it a culinary ingredient but it also has endless uses, including repelling insects.

Vinegar contains acetic acid that is harmful to the insects and so using a solution of diluted vinegar will easily help you repel the pesky creatures. The strong odor of vinegar is also a big turnoff for these insects.

To make no chemical bug spray, all you need to do is combine equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle, and then spray directly on the infested areas. You may have to repeat this process regularly. You can also use it as bug spray for dogs.

Turmeric – A Natural Bug Killer

Turmeric has long been used not only as a kitchen ingredient, but also as a natural remedy against numerous ailments. It also shows promising results as an insect repellent and natural pest control ingredient.

To use turmeric as an insect repellent, make a fine paste by combining 2 tablespoons of the powder with water. Dip cotton balls in the paste and place them in areas of your home that are prone to insects. Turmeric is also good option for baby safe bug repellent.

Make sure that you don’t apply the paste directly to your floors, walls, etc. because the turmeric stains are extremely difficult to remove.

Clove Oil – natural pest repellent

Clove oil has numerous uses, including its use as an effective insect repellent. Make sure not to apply it directly on your skin as it can sometimes cause burning sensation, irritation, or even nerve damage.

To use it as a safe and effective natural insect repellent for house, it should be diluted. The best combination is to mix 80 percent coconut oil or olive oil with 20 percent clove oil and then apply it on the uncovered areas of your body.

Lavender: bug deterrent

Lavender is amongst the natural mosquito repellent plants. Scientists have found two compounds in this herb that may be responsible for the insect repelling properties. The first is linalool, a compound that has flower-like odor and naturally found in lavender. It is found to be toxic to some types of insects. The second compound is beta-citronellol, found in citronella and has mosquito repelling qualities.

Just crush some flowers and place near bed to repel mosquitoes. If you are looking for all-natural insect repellent for babies, lavender should be your choice.

Neem Oil: A natural mosquito repellent for yard

Neem oil, extracted from the seeds of the neem tree is a best mosquito repellent for yard that is not only very effective but also free of DEET! Neem tree is grown widely in tropical countries, where mosquito problem is at its worst. The essential oil obtained from the plant is used as a topical application in these places to deter mosquitos.

The way neem oil works is slightly different from the other insecticides available in the market. Instead of killing the insects right away, what neem does is that it messes with the bodies and nervous system of the insects, rendering them totally incapable of surviving in this world.

Neem oil contains certain ingredients that are similar to the natural hormones produced by the insects. Once these ingredients enter the insect body, they block the functioning of the insect hormones, which in turn affects the proper functioning of the organ systems. It disrupts the life cycle of the insects, causing them to disappear eventually.

Here’s how you make a neem oil spray that you can also use as mosquito spray for yard. You need Neem oil – 2 tsp, Warm water – 1 Quart and Dishwashing liquid or insecticidal soap – 1tsp. First, mix the soap and warm water together and then add the oil slowly, while stirring briskly. Pour the solution into a spray can and spray on the leaves and stem of plants.

If you live in a mosquito-infested area, the best way to prevent mosquito bites is to apply a mixture of neem oil (10 drops) and coconut oil (1/4 cup) onto the skin. This remedy is effective for up to 12 hours. This is a natural mosquito repellent lotion. Make sure not to apply it on injured or wounded skin.

[Read more about benefits of neem to mankind]

Garlic – natural bug repellent

Most people know garlic as an aromatic spice that is widely used in almost all cuisines in the world.  It also has many medicinal and curative properties. But, did you know that it is an effective insect repellent as well? Garlic is used to repel various types of flying and crawling insects, including mosquitos. When crushed or chopped, garlic releases a substance called allicin that has a characteristic odor, which is not so favored by the insects. However, the spice is easy on the environment and does not affect those insects that are beneficial to us.

Here’s a recipe to make your own garlic insect repellent spray: For this recipe, you’ll need: Garlic, water, mineral oil and dish soap. Mince 4 cloves of garlic and add it to a tablespoon of mineral oil. Allow it to sit for a day. Take out the garlic pieces and add the oil to a pint of water and a teaspoon of mineral oil. Pour this into a spray bottle. Since it is a concentrated mixture, add water to the bottle to dilute it. Spray the mixture on the leaves and stems of plants.

Rosemary and Catnip

While rosemary is a fragrant and delicious herb that adds flavor and aroma in cooking, it is unpleasant to several insects. The cuttings of the herb or the plant itself is effective in repelling many insects, especially mosquitos.

To make an insect repellent spray with rosemary, boil a quart of dried rosemary in a quart of water for half an hour. Cool the mixture and strain it into a container. Store it in the refrigerator. Add a small amount of the liquid in a spray container and spray as needed.

Just like rosemary, catnip is also an excellent mosquito repellent. According to studies, it is 10 times more effective in repelling mosquitos than DEET. Belonging to the mint family, catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone that fends off insects.

You can create a rub-on insect repellent by mixing 2 parts catnips, 1-part rosemary and 2 parts carrier oil, such as grapeseed oil or coconut oil in a jar. Prior to adding them to the jar, make sure to roll the herbs between your fingers or hands to release their oil. Close the jar and store in a cool place for about 2 weeks.Shake the container once every day to ensure proper mixing of its contents. This mixture will keep in the fridge for about 8 months. Apply this oil on your skin to prevent mosquito bites.

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Cedar Essential Oil – natural insect repellent

Cedar essential oil, extracted from the bark of cedar trees is a very effective natural insect repellent. It is particularly effective against ticks, fleas, mites, ants and other crawly insects. You can repel mosquitos by applying a mix of cedar oil and a carrier oil, such as coconut oil on your skin.

If you’re searching for a natural flea repellant remedy for your pet, cedar essential oil is the one! Just rub a few drops of oil in your hands and then apply on your pet’s coat or you can add the oil to your pet’s shampoo. You can also innovate some pet safe bug spray for dogs using cedar essential oil.

Eucalyptus oil

Essential oil from eucalyptus has properties as antimicrobial and insecticidal. It has been long used as natural pesticide. It is effective for using it as natural bug repellent for your yard.

Here are some Homemade Bug Sprays

If you’d rather avoid chemical-based insect repellents and go for the safer and natural remedies, there are plenty of recipes you can easily make at home. Here are few recipes for you to try:

Recipe #1 for bug spray for house: Take ¼ cup of witch hazel. Dilute it with equal amount of water. To this add 10 drops each of Citronella Essential Oil, Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Tea tree Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil and Geranium Essential Oil. Mix well, store in a glass spray bottle and you’re good to go! Make sure to give the bottle a good shake before you spray.

Recipe #2 for bug spray: Take 2 ounces of Apple cider vinegar or witch hazel. Add equal quantity of water. To this add 15 drops of Cedarwood Essential oil, Citronella essential oil or lemon eucalyptus essential oil and Geranium bourbon essential oil each. Add 2 drops of Catnip essential oil. Give the mixture a thorough stir and then pour into a glass spray bottle. This insect spray will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 months. Shake the mixture before use.

Recipe #3 for herbal bug spray Take 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint and 6 tbsp of finely chopped catnip, citronella, lavender and/or cloves. Boil a cup of water in a small saucepan. Add fresh herbs, cover the pan and switch off the flame. Cool the mixture and strain out the herbs. Add one cup of witch hazel, or vodka to the infused water and mix well. Store this herbal bug repellent in the fridge and use as needed.

[Read more about 9 Amazing benefits of Kaffir lime]

Natural Midge Repellent

Come summer and you are ready to enjoy the warm and sunny weather.  But that’s not the only thing summer brings. A swarm of midges also come to visit during this time, especially in Scotland Highlands and other places in Europe. These tiny insects that belong to the mosquito family often fly together in big hordes and are known to bite and suck the blood of other animals. Midges are hard to get rid of, but there are many natural home remedies that help to keep away these insects. Essential oils such as the ones mentioned above,especially Citronella essential oil are best midge repellent and very effective in keeping the midges at bay.  Just apply any of these oils on the skin and the midges won’t dare to come anywhere near you. Alternatively, you can prepare a homemade insect repellent spray and spray it on your clothes or body.

Natural Insect Repellant Safety

Natural does not mean it is always safe to use. Since most natural insect repellants use essential oils as the main ingredient, it is important that you know the safety issues associated with these oils so as to prevent potential side effects.

Although essential oils are likely to cause minor irritation and discomfort in some people, it will rarely cause any serious problems. The factors that influence the possibility of an adverse effect include Adulterated or poor quality essential oils, Chemical composition of the essential oil, Method of using the oil, age of user, Excess usage of the oil and Skin health. The most common adverse effects that are likely to occur while using essential oils include skin irritation, dermal sensitization and photosensitization. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should not be used on your skin without diluting well. Using undiluted oil on the skin can cause irritation, swelling and allergic reactions in some people.

Citrus oils, such as lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and bergamot essential oils contain certain ingredients that can make your skin more sensitive to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, leading to tanning, discoloration and sun burns. So, make sure you don’t apply these oils on your skin before going out in the sun.

The use of some essential oils like Wintergreen, Sage, Mugwort, Tarragon, Birch, Aniseed, Camphor, Hyssop, Parsley, Pennyroyal, Tansy, Thuja, and Wormwood essential oils should be avoided if you’re pregnant because these oils can cause serious hormonal imbalance that can affect the pregnancy. Nursing mothers should avoid using peppermint essential oil, as it reduces the production of breast milk.

Essential oil used to make bug spray at home should be stored safely, any ingestion should be avoided. Since the essential oils are highly concentrated and have different levels of toxicity, it is best to avoid taking them internally.


Controlling pesky insects in your home or on your yard plants does not require the use of harmful chemicals anymore. Instead, you can use the above mentioned natural insect control and natural ingredients to repel insects without the risks of toxic poisons. Make sure to address the pest infestation as soon as you spot them because the longer you wait, the more worse the situation gets and the harder it becomes to eliminate it.



  1. Eucalyptus essential oil as a natural pesticide – Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 256, Issue 12, 10 December 2008, Pages 2166-2174 –
  2. A bioassay for natural insect repellents –
  3. Plant based products: use and development as repellents against mosquitoes –
  4. Formulation of an effective mosquito-repellent topical product from lemongrass oil.
  5. Repellent composition containing natural oils of citronella, cedar and wintergreen –
  6. Evaluation of botanicals as repellents against mosquitoes –


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