Natural bug repellent

Do they like you or don’t they? Usually a question like that would tempt you to answer “Yes! Of course they like me!”  However, in the case of bugs and the dreaded mosquito, we sing a different tune.

 It is that time of year again in the desert where the heat and humidity coupled with rain brings mosquitos out in droves. There are several proposed reasons why they seem to flock to certain people such as your unique smell, the products you use and your blood type. 

One of the most studied theories is blood type, with Type O being the most attractive and types A and B (specifically A) being the least. I am Type A, but I also don’t use perfumes in products. Regardless of why, I will gladly accept mosquitos taking a pass on me.

Let’s see what we can do to better protect our Type Os out there and whomever may be a target…. chemically free, of course!  

Mosquito bites, beyond being simply annoying and itchy, can carry harmful infections, so keeping them away is always best. Most commercial insect repellents use nasty chemicals that absorb into our skin and blood stream, such as DEET

(N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). While the EPA said a few years ago that DEET “did not present a health concern to the general population, including children” one look at the long list of warnings and precautions makes me want to steer clear.

Dr. Abou Donia, a Duke University pharmacologist, found that “rats treated with an average human dose of DEET performed far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks requiring muscle control, strength and coordination.” The EPA also advises to avoid getting commercial insect repellants on the hands, mouths and eyes of young children and to wash them off immediately after returning indoors.   

Thankfully, there are several good chemical-free options for you to try before you would need to consider the heavy hitters. I have tried several over the years, and I believe this one to be an easy and effective spray for the whole family! If you have children under the age of two, simply apply to their clothing instead of their skin as it does use essential oils, which can be too strong on a baby’s skin.   

Homemade Bug Spray 


  • 2 ounces apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or vodka 
  • 2 ounces water 
  • 15 drops patchouli essential oil 
  • 15 drops Cedarwood Atlantica essential oil 
  • 10 drops Geranium Bourbon essential oil 
  • Optional - 2 drops of Tea Tree or Vetiver essential oil. 


As essential oils don’t mix well with water, start by adding them to the apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or vodka. Add a squirt of castile soap (if desired), allow to sit for a couple of minutes, and give the mixture a stir.  This will disperse the essential oils in the liquid. Add water and pour into a spray bottle, preferably one made of glass or PET plastic. Store in your fridge and it should last 2-3 months!

A safe, non-DIY alternative bug repellent is offered from one of my favorite companies, Badger. Lastly, a really easy and nice smelling option is to rub any fresh or dried leaves from the mint family (peppermint, spearmint) all over the body as a natural repellent.