Farmers Almanac
The Farmers Almanac
Order your copy today!

Herbal Insect Repellents

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Subscribe by Email Print This Post
Herbal Insect Repellents

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

Citronella — If the word citronella makes you think of tiki torches, the people at the candle companies are doing their jobs right. But 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).

Lavender — 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 prevent fleas.

Cedar — While cedar chests and chips have long been used to repel months, 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.

Lemon Eucalyptus — If you want to repel koalas in the Australian outback, eucalyptus definitely won’t work, but it’s great for chasing away mosquitoes and ticks. Bonus: it’ll also clear your sinuses!

Peppermint — 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.

Basil — Do you love pesto? Despite the name, mosquitoes do not. Slather yourself in the scent of basil and — presto pesto! — you’ll be pest-free!

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

Feverfew — 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.

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 …

Rosemary — The oil of this fragrant wood makes a very effective mosquito repellent. It’s good in soup, too.

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.


1 Jim { 06.07.16 at 10:12 am }

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.

2 Brenda Faye Swisher { 04.04.16 at 2:47 pm }

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

3 Brenda Faye Swisher { 04.04.16 at 2:42 pm }

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

4 C.A. Swem { 05.31.15 at 8:39 am }

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 .

5 Adrianne { 05.30.15 at 11:28 pm }

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.

6 Kelly { 05.30.15 at 1:28 pm }

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.

7 Rick { 04.27.15 at 11:49 am }

All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work!

8 Kate { 04.27.15 at 6:33 am }

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


9 wanda Grubbs { 04.26.15 at 8:37 pm }

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.

10 Karen Smith { 12.02.14 at 3:37 pm }

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.

11 ida { 05.17.14 at 12:16 am }

I need away to get rid of roaches in my house

12 Bec { 05.15.14 at 10:38 pm }

Here are 2 recipes for bug repellent:

5 drops lavender, 5 drops lemongrass, 3 drops peppermint, 1 drop thyme
Mix in 1 cup of water and shake in a spray bottle

5 drops lemon, 5 drops purify
Mix with 1 cup distilled water into a spray bottle
You can also mix these blends with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and spread on to your skin. Will last about 4 hours while outside. It is however not waterproof so it you get wet or sweat you will need to reapply.
dōTERRA TerraShield insect blend is another ready to use option to help fight away those nasty bugs, so you can enjoy the outdoors. TerraShield will also prevent deer ticks as well, which carries Lyme Disease.

To find oils you can go to http://www.mydoterra.com/rebeccapetermann/

13 Lindy { 05.15.14 at 3:15 pm }

Anything specific for ticks?

14 Daniel Siegel { 07.21.13 at 11:04 am }

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

15 Connie Hunter { 08.04.12 at 7:36 pm }

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

16 mountiangirl { 07.18.12 at 9:59 am }

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.

17 Mary D { 07.06.12 at 6:55 am }

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

18 Barb { 06.28.12 at 6:50 pm }

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.

19 buck { 06.28.12 at 2:07 pm }

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

20 KAREN FALCH { 06.28.12 at 1:21 pm }

I read somewhere that ticks hate lavender

21 Anita { 06.27.12 at 2:22 pm }

Great article! I love all these plants and use them in my garden. The great thing about them is the beneficial insects don’t mind the fragrance. The chewy pests leave and I rarely have to mix up a spray to keep them off my veggies.

So happy to see you list Neem as a bug repellant! Did you know that neem also works internally for humans and pets? I take neem capsules and give one a day to my dog. Bugs don’t bother me and fleas and ticks don’t bother him. Love, love LOVE my Neem. There are a couple of places to get neem for humans online. I get mine at. http://www.theneemqueen.com

22 jeanette marcoux { 06.27.12 at 11:36 am }

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,

23 Ali { 06.27.12 at 11:08 am }

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

24 Glenda { 06.27.12 at 10:43 am }

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

25 Jaime McLeod { 07.05.12 at 10:22 am }

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

26 Kathy { 06.27.12 at 10:43 am }

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

27 Janet groves { 06.27.12 at 10:13 am }

Tea tree oil works well also.

28 Twila { 06.27.12 at 9:23 am }

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!

29 Susan Morrison { 06.27.12 at 9:14 am }

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.

Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

Spring Is Here – Sign Up Today!

The Farmers' Almanac is a gardener's best friend. Get 365 days of access to our online weather and gardening calendars + a copy of the 2017 Almanac
for only $13.99 $11.99!

Subscribe Today »