12 Natural Insect Repellents

Protect yourself from biting bugs with these natural herbal remedies!

Do you hate mosquitoes and other biting pests, but hate the smell of bug spray just as much? Try some of these herbs that double as insect repellents!

1. Citronella

Cymbopogon flexuosus - Perennial plant

Citronella isn’t just for candles. You can wear it, too. Citronella is extracted from a species of lemongrass, and is one of the most beloved mosquito repelling substances around (mosquitoes were apparently not included in that unscientific survey).

2. Lavender

Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but you've actually been planted. - Appalachia

While lavender is an almost universally loved fragrance among humans, bugs just hate it! Lavender is great for repelling flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other pests. You can even rub some lavender oil on your dogs (not cats) to help repel fleas. Please consult your vet before using on your dog.

3. Cedar

Wood - Woodchips

While cedar chests and chips have long been used to repel moths, most people don’t realize this fragrant wood is equally effective against mosquitoes and other biting insects. No, you don’t have to climb inside of a cedar chest or hang a block of the stuff around your neck. Just get your hands on some cedar essential oil.

4. Lemon Eucalyptus

Lemon Eucalyptus oil comes from a different kind of tree than eucalyptus. It’s actually a nickname for a tree called the lemon-scented gum and blue-spotted gum. Despite its name, it contains no citrus. Like Lemon Myrtle and Lemongrass oil, it simply has a lemony aroma. It’s great for chasing away mosquitoes and ticks. 

5. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil - Essential oil

While not an herb, eucalyptus is an excellent insect repellent because pests dislike the smell. This compound is a well-researched alternative to commercial chemical pesticides and it also works well as an insect and rodent repellent. To make an all-purpose pest spray, mix 10 drops of eucalyptus oil with two ounces of water and two ounces of white vinegar. You can use this spray as an insecticide in the garden or spray it on exposed skin to ward off mosquitos and other biting bugs (but remember, topical application is not recommended on pets or children under 2 years of age).

6. Peppermint

Peppermint - Peppermint extract

Misting peppermint oil onto your skin is a nice, cool, refreshing treat in the summertime. It doesn’t hurt that pests, such as mosquitoes and fleas, hate the smell. Be sure you dilute with water or a carrier oil. 

7. Basil

Plants - Garden

Slather yourself in the scent of basil and — presto pesto! — you’ll be pest-free!

DIY Basil Insect Repellent

Recipe courtesy of Finch & Folly

6 ounces fresh basil leaves and stems
4 ounces of boiling water
4 ounces of vodka*


Place the basil in a glass container. Pour boiling water over the basil, cover, and let sit for 6 hours.
Remove basil and pour infused water into a spray bottle. Pour vodka into spray bottle & gently shake. Store in a cool, dark spot.

Avoid spraying around face & keep out of reach of little ones.

*To preserve this repellant, vodka is used as a carrier. If you choose to omit it, make small batches of basil-infused water and keep it in the fridge for 5-7 days.

8. Geranium

Plant geraniums around your property to keep nasty bugs away, or get an extract of the plant to wear.

9. Feverfew

A bottle of tincture with fresh feverfew flowers

Add these pretty daisy-like flowers to your garden to repel a variety of pests. It can also be worn as a spray, or even used to treat insect bites.

10. Catnip

Cat - Catnip

Concentrated catnip has been shown to be more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. Just watch out when traveling through neighborhoods with a lot of stray cats …

11. Rosemary

Rosemary - Rosemary oil

The oil of rosemary makes a very effective mosquito repellent. It’s good in soup, too. 

12. Neem

A type of mahogany grown in India, neem is one of the most effective insect repellents around. Many commercial insect sprays use neem as the main active ingredient. Great for repelling ticks, mosquitos, black flies, and no-see-ums (biting midges).

Any of these herbs or woods can be purchased in essential oil form, or you can make your own extracts. Just crush the plant and soak it in three parts alcohol per one part of solid material. Bottle it up and let it sit for a few weeks before using.

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Farmers' Almanac - Itch
Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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Hoyt a Ray

Will I be ok to mix all 12 essential oils in a spray bottle and mist myself

Susan Higgins

Hi Hoyt, you have to dilute the oils with a carrier oil or even water. Shake vigorously and spray.


How do I get rid of carpenter bees

Ashlyn Ehsani

Carpenter bees will only leave if you remove all sources of wood in the area you don’t want them in… they’re very persistent otherwise!

Karen Crum

What repels snakes?

Skip Press

Regarding Cedar – Which months does it repel?


Awesome knew on some but this is a highlight to understand more thank you God bless you all


Brenda Faye Fisher, I have a no-mow yard…I planted ivy! It takes a couple of years to provide total coverage, but it looks so lush when it does.

Brenda Faye Swisher

I have been trying to do a no mow yard. Has anyone else tried this? B

Brenda Faye Swisher

I’ve been working on a natural way to do a mow free yard. Has anyone else tried this. B

C.A. Swem

Adrianne , here by the rivers in central Ill . we use real vanilla to prevent annoying buffalo gnats from bothering us . Works like a charm but it must be the real thing not flavor .


unfortunately NONE of these seem to work on those demon-posessed little biting jerks called ‘buffalo gnats’ (a.k.a. blackflies).

Been trying for weeks now. NO luck with anything I’ve tried.


Does anyone know of an effective, non toxic remedy for moths? I’ve used cedar and set out moth traps. Also threw away many items already damaged by them. I have a curious cat at home. Definitely need something that won’t harm her.


Hang up the prozap strips that Lowes sells. There great for moths, any kind of flies


All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work!


Need help pls. Anyone have any advice on how to get rid of thousand leggers; have so many of them 🙁


wanda Grubbs

Karen Smith, diatomaceous earth, completely safe to pets, will tackle any roach or other bug problem, get food grade. google it, there are places that sell it, but Amazon does as well, its a fine powder, that can be squirted any where and every where, safe for pets. except your garden, some bugs are beneficial to the plants, dont want to kill them 🙂 I use a lot of essential oils for these purposes as well.

Karen Smith

I’m in dire need of a roach killer /repellent that’s safe for ferrets dogs and humans. I’ve been hitting them with anything I can find that’s ” suppose” to END the infestation and they seem to get worse. Not to mention I’m having headaches and breathing problems during and after treatments. They moved in about 2 years ago during the Texas draughts. I’m loosing my mind fighting with them. Everything is so nasty I’m ready to move out. But can’t. Please help.


I need away to get rid of roaches in my house


Anything specific for ticks?

Daniel Siegel

Crocodile Herbal Insect Repellent is all natural. It is made from an herbal infussion of Rosemary, Peppermint and Thyme. It is Citronella free and is being used on People and Pets. You can check Crocodile out by doing a search or going to dancingroots.com

Connie Hunter

Susan I would also like your friends recipe to keep those bugs away.


There are so many great remedies out there as i’m one who uses them everyday i make myown cleaning agents and many others and these all work great to.

Mary D

Please let us in on the natural ingredients for mosquitos. And where can you find all these differnt oiks. Thanks 🙂

Hoyt a Ray

I get my oils from Doterra and have been for years. I am pleased with the products they sell. I am a member


We found another great use for Peppermint Oil, If you have a mouse problem,, put a few drops of the oil on cotten balls, put them where they may be getting in, they do not like the smell and will not go over it. We tried this in a old trailor up north over the winter months, NO MORE MICE!!! Good luck.


oregano oil works 2 if you mix it with grapeseed oil.


I read somewhere that ticks hate lavender

jeanette marcoux

i like using pure aloe vera gel with a few drops of essential oil my favorite ‘lavender’ the aloe is so soothing for dry skin,


New high-tech strategies are being developed to combat the spread of Dengue fever, the fastest spreading insect-borne viral illness in the world (spread by mosquitoes), affecting 20 times as many people as the flu
Researchers have discovered an unusual bacteria called Wolbachia, and mosquitoes infected with this bacterium are completely unable to transmit the Dengue virus to humans, which holds great promise for drastically reducing infection worldwide; Wolbachia appears to be a much safer option than the genetically engineered strategies being developed by other biotech companies, such as Oxitec
British biotech company Oxitec has been genetically engineering mosquitoes to produce offspring that die before they reach maturity, but this strategy has proven less reliable, more expensive, and far more risky than infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachiabacteria
Oxitec has released millions of these genetically engineered (GE) “suicide mosquitoes” into several countries, without the consent of the public or long-term safety studies, highlighting concerns over the lack of regulation of release of GE insects into the environment


Susan, I live in south florida and we do have a problem here with mesquitoes. Would you share the recipe for the mesquito repellant from your friend.
Thank you ……….Glenda


What is the ‘solid material’ thats in the recipe supposed to be?

Jaime McLeod

Kathy – “Solid material” would be any herb listed above that you chose to use in its raw form.

Janet groves

Tea tree oil works well also.


Susan, would you mind sharing your friend’s recipe? After Tropical Storm Debby moved through here the past couple of days, I know we are going to have a massive invasion of mosquitoes in the very near future. A natural repellant sure would be nice!

Susan Morrison

A friend mixed up a brew of natural ingredients to use on the children last summer that smelled wonderful while also repelling the bugs. It worked great! We even use it at bedtime to repel mosquitos that inevitably bite the youngest child, who refuses to stay covered up & has super-sensitive skin. She always got up in the morning with several big whelps, but after using the natural repellent – no more whelps! Thanks for the list of items. Now I can make up some repellent.

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