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Insect bites can put a damper on even the most beautiful spring and summer night. Unfortunately, so can the intense aroma and harmful effects of insect repellants. Thankfully, there are essential oils that repel insects, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors again.
Essential oils can provide a safe and natural way to repel everything from mosquitos to dust mites. Some oils are also known to be effective insecticides so that you can kill bugs before they become a problem.
Depending on your needs, oils can be combined to make your own bug spray, offering you a safe and natural alternative to DEET and other chemical-based insect repellants.
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The following is a list of essential oil ingredients to create insect repellant spray:
1. Basil. This zesty oil is great for controlling mosquito and dust mites. Several studies have found that basil effectively repels mosquitos and even exhibits mosquito larvicidal activity.  This makes basil oil an especially good option for those living near swamps, ponds and other areas with a high mosquito population.
2. Clove. A 2005 study of essential oils as mosquito repellants found that clove provided the longest duration of repellency against the three types of mosquitos used in the study.
3. Eucalyptus. You get a lot of bang for your buck when using eucalyptus oil as an insecticide. It’s been found effective on a wide variety of insects, most notably its effect on sandflies.
4. Garlic. For years, garlic has been used to control common pests found in gardens and has now been found to be an effective way to keep mosquitos at bay.
5. Geranium. A 2003 study found this pleasant smelling oil to be highly effective in killing larval, pupal and adult development of mosquitos.  This means that it’s not only great for preventing mosquito bites, but it can also kill mosquitos through all stages of life. A must-have for your backyard or cottage!
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6. Lemon. Of all the essential oils that repel insects, lemon is by far one of the best-known natural insecticides and repellants. A 2012 study found that it offers an effective and natural alternative to conventional chemical insect control.
7. Peppermint. This minty-fresh oil is used as a natural insecticide against many types of bugs. Studies have found methanol-based oils to be effective insecticides. A 2011 study also found it to be an especially effective larvicide and mosquito repellant.
8. Tea tree oil. This natural anti-parasitic is a great option for people and pets because of its ability to stop the growth of fleas, ticks and lice. Tea tree oil is also an effective remedy for soothing the itch and discomfort of mosquito bites.
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Thyme. Thyme has been found to be very effective in repelling two of the peskiest insects around: mosquitos and houseflies.
Each of the ingredients above can be mixed with a water and vinegar base to create a natural insect repellent spray. For the most effective insect repellent spray, use the following:
Natural Insect Repellent Spray
- Basil oil: 15 drops
- Lemon oil: 10 drops
- Tea tree oil: 10 drops
- Peppermint oil: 6 drops
- Geranium oil: 6 drops
- Distilled water: 2 ounces
- Vinegar: 2 ounces (preferably white vinegar, but apple cider works as well!)
Blend all the ingredients and put into a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Note: This is an aromatic blend meant to be diffused into the air around you. Do not use for topical or internal use.
Having these essential oils that repel insects on hand can help you keep your home and garden free of pests without the use of chemicals.
What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:
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 Trongtokit Y., Rongsriyam Y., Komalamisra N., Apiwathnasorn C. Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytotherapy Research. 2005;19(4):303–309. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1637.
 Maciel, M.V., Morais, S.M., Bevilaqua, C.M., Silva, R.A., Barros, R.S., et al. (2010). Chemical composition of Eucalyptus spp. essential oils and their insecticidal effects on Lutzomyia longipalpis. Vet Parasitol, 167(1):1-7. Epub 2009 Oct 9.
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 Kumar, S., Wahab, N., & Warikoo, R. (2011). Bioefficacy of Mentha piperitaessential oil against dengue fever mosquito Aedes aegypti L. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 1(2), 85–88. http://doi.org/10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60001-4
 Park B.S., Choi W.S., Kim J.H., Kim K.H., Lee S.E. 2005. Monoterpenes from thyme (Thymus vulgaris) as potential mosquito repellents. J Am Mosq Control Assoc-Mar;21(1):80-3.
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