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As I was picking out my plants for my garden this spring I came across a few natural bug repellent plants. That got me thinking about making myself an all natural bug spray. I live in the state of Wisconsin in the summer our state bird changes from a robin to a mosquito. Just kidding, but really we have an onslaught of mosquitoes during the summer and fall. Our family uses a bunch of bug spray so that we can enjoy the outdoors during the warm months without becoming totally irritated by the little biting menaces.
I wanted to try to make my summer less full of toxins and chemicals while still enjoying the outside. I have three homemade, homegrown and sure fire ways to make your own natural bug repellents. As proof I am using one of the repellents as I work on my post. It’s August 7th and the sun is going down after a warm day. For anyone that lives in this part of the county you know that it’s the prime time for the blood suckers to come out.
#1 Natural Bug Repellent: A Pot of Plants
Potted plants are easy and there are so many plants that are natural bug repellents. When I started researching this post I learned that many plants were already in my garden. The common plants that deter mosquitoes include: lemon grass, catmint, lavender, sage, marigolds, rosemary and citronella geranium. I happened to have catmint, sage, and lavender in my garden. I decided to purchase some lemon grass, citronellIa geranium and yellow marigolds for a pot that needed some filling.
The plants went in great and I liked how it looked at our entrance to our little patio. It was all decked out for the 4th of July and the plant was doing wonderfully. Then the great rainy season came and I noticed too late that the pot’s drain hole was blocked and my plants were swimming. I succesfully killed the catmit and the citronella geranium. The lemon grass thrived and the marigolds barely pulled through.
Although not all the plants survived it’s still doing it’s job. I use the lemon grass more than anything else. When the kids are jumping on the neighbor’s trampoline and I need to keep an eye on them. I grab a blade of grass and rub it on my ankles and legs. This has stopped the mosquitoes from driving me crazy and cutting my kids’ jump time short.
#2 Natural Bug Repellent: Homemade bug spray
We usually use an off the shelf bug spray where the main ingredient is DEET. Here is what is included on the warning labels for items with DEET.
-Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
-Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
-Do not allow young children to apply this product.
-After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
-Do not use under clothing.
-Do not spray in enclosed areas.
Ummmmm….not really what I want to put on myself let alone my kids. Guess where I turned to? Yes essential oils. You can make your own repellent out of essential oils. There are a many oils that deter biting insects: citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, cajeput, cedar, catnip, geranium, sage, thyme, eucalyptus, mint, tea tree, and lavender. Surprise! Many of the oils are similar to the plants that deter bugs!!
I had a few of these in my small home collection of oils and gave them a whirl. Combining about 20 drops of eucalyptus, mint, tea tree (melaleuca) and lavender into a glass bottle. To the oils I added equal parts witch hazel and apple cider vinegar. I give it a shake before using it and spritz it on. Works like a charm.
5ml Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca, & Peppermint Only $15 including shipping
#3 Natural Bug Repellent: Smoking dried herbs
So earlier I said that sage is one of the plants that can ward of the biting menaces. I have been working on this post while allowing a terracotta pot filled with dried sage smolder next to me. It has filled the air with a pleasant smokey odor reminiscent of my college days (DON’T WORRY NEIGHBORS IT’S ONLY SAGE). I have learned quickly that you will not burn down the joint with sage. It smolders nicely and needs some relighting.
If you have a sage plant you most likely have a plethora of leaves at your disposal for drying. All you need to do it cut some fresh groupings of leaves, tie them together and hang up in a dry warm place with good airflow. Much like I did with my dried oregano, follow the link and check out the post.
After the sage is dry, collect a few parts together and wrap them in a bakers twine. Remember these are for burning so make sure you don’t wrap in a plastic line or something noxious. I placed the tied sage stick in a terracotta planter with sand in the bottom. As the sage burnt down I ended up pushing it into the pot to keep it nicely contained. It worked wonders!
I was able to write my entire post with the sage smoldering and some lemon grass rubbed on my wrists and ankles. No DEET necessary. It’s great to know that there are alternatives to commercial bug repellents that are found in nature.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks installment of Make it Monday. How do you fight off the bugs this time of year?