What Essential Oils Keep Bugs Away? Best Choices Revealed

What Essential Oils Keep Bugs Away? Best Choices Revealed

What essential oils keep bugs away? Find out the best oils for natural pest control and how to use them to keep insects out of your home.

People have been using the therapeutic properties of essential oils for centuries, and in addition to their use in aromatherapy and health care, many essential oils are highly effective in repelling insects. As a natural alternative to chemical repellents, essential oils offer a safer, pleasant-smelling alternative to pesky insects. This article describes essential oils that are particularly effective in repelling common insects such as mosquitoes, flies, ticks and ants. In addition, the article includes practical recipes and usage tips to help you make the most of these natural substances for the troubles you encounter.

What Essential Oils Keep Bugs Away?

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil is renowned for its bug-repelling properties. Derived from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree, this oil contains a compound called PMD (para-menthane-3,8-diol), which is highly effective against mosquitoes
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes.
  • Effectiveness: Studies have shown that lemon eucalyptus oil provides protection against mosquito bites for up to three hours.
  • Application: Dilute with a carrier oil and apply to exposed skin, or use in a spray form.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is not only known for its calming scent but also for its ability to deter insects such as mosquitoes, flies, and moths. Its strong aroma is offensive to many bugs.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, flies, moths.
  • Effectiveness: Lavender oil can protect against insect bites and is also useful for soothing existing bites.
  • Application: Apply directly to the skin with a carrier oil, or use it in diffusers and sprays around your living spaces.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, has powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also an excellent bug repellent, particularly against mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, ticks.
  • Effectiveness: Its strong smell keeps bugs at bay, and it can also treat insect bites, reducing itching and swelling.
  • Application: Mix with a carrier oil and apply to the skin or use in homemade sprays.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is another potent insect repellent. The strong scent of menthol in peppermint oil is unbearable to many insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and ants.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, flies, ants.
  • Effectiveness: Peppermint oil can deter insects and is also useful in killing some pests like ants.
  • Application: Apply diluted peppermint oil to the skin, or use it in diffusers and sprays. It can also be used in a mixture with water to spray around entry points to deter ants.

Citronella Oil


Citronella oil, derived from lemongrass, is one of the most widely known natural insect repellents. It works by masking scents that are attractive to insects.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes.
  • Effectiveness: Citronella oil is particularly effective against mosquitoes and can protect for up to two hours.
  • Application: Use in candles, sprays, and diffusers. It can also be applied to the skin when diluted with a carrier oil.

Eucalyptus Oil


Eucalyptus oil has a strong, fresh scent that repels various insects. It is particularly effective against mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, ticks.
  • Effectiveness: Provides several hours of protection from mosquito bites.
  • Application: Dilute with a carrier oil and apply to the skin, or use in sprays and diffusers.

Lemongrass Oil


Lemongrass oil, similar to citronella, is effective in repelling mosquitoes. Its fresh, citrus scent is both pleasant to humans and repulsive to insects.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, houseflies, ants.
  • Effectiveness: Effective against mosquitoes and also deters houseflies and ants.
  • Application: Use in sprays, diffusers, or apply directly to the skin with a carrier oil.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil is a versatile essential oil with strong insect-repellent properties. It works well against mosquitoes, flies, and even some types of beetles.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, flies, beetles.
  • Effectiveness: Its strong aroma deters insects and can also protect plants from pests.
  • Application: Apply diluted to the skin, or use in garden sprays to protect plants.

Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood oil is known for its woody scent and is effective in repelling mosquitoes, moths, and other bugs. It also disrupts the pheromones of insects, which helps to keep them away.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, moths.
  • Effectiveness: Works well for indoor and outdoor use, particularly against mosquitoes and moths.
  • Application: Use in diffusers, sprays, or apply diluted to the skin.

Patchouli Oil

Patchouli oil, with its deep, musky scent, is effective against a variety of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and moths.
  • Effective Against: Mosquitoes, flies, moths.
  • Effectiveness: Its strong odor repels bugs and can also be used to treat insect bites.
  • Application: Apply directly to the skin with a carrier oil, or use in diffusers and sprays.

Application Tips and Safety

While essential oils are natural, it's important to use them correctly to avoid skin irritation or other adverse effects:
  • Step 1 Dilution: Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as coconut, almond, or jojoba oil, before applying to the skin. A typical dilution ratio is 10-20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
  • Step 2 Patch Test: Conduct a patch test on a small area of skin before widespread use to ensure there's no allergic reaction.
  • Step 3 Avoiding Sensitive Areas: Do not apply essential oils near the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Step 4 Pregnant and Nursing Women: Consult a healthcare provider before using essential oils if you are pregnant or nursing.
  • Step 5 Children: Use essential oils with caution on children and always dilute heavily.

Five Essential Oil Recipes for Bug Repellent

Now that we have explored the various essential oils and their effectiveness against different types of bugs, let's delve into some practical ways to use these oils. Here are five essential oil recipes specifically formulated to keep bugs away. These recipes can help you create your own natural insect repellents at home, using the essential oils we've discussed.

Recipe 1: Mosquito Repellent Spray

  • Ingredients: 10 drops lemon eucalyptus oil, 10 drops lavender oil, 10 drops eucalyptus oil, 2 ounces water.
  • Method: Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle, shake well before use.

Recipe 2: Ant Repellent Spray

  • Ingredients: 10 drops peppermint oil, 10 drops tea tree oil, 2 ounces water.
  • Method: Combine in a spray bottle, spray in areas where ants are present.

Recipe 3: Fly Repellent Diffuser

  • Ingredients: 5 drops rosemary oil, 5 drops lemongrass oil, 5 drops lavender oil.
  • Method: Add to a diffuser and use as needed.

Recipe 4: Tick Repellent Body Oil

  • Ingredients: 10 drops tea tree oil, 10 drops eucalyptus oil, 1 ounce coconut oil.
  • Method: Mix thoroughly and apply to exposed skin.

Recipe 5: Moth Repellent Closet Spray

  • Ingredients: 10 drops cedarwood oil, 10 drops patchouli oil, 2 ounces water
  • Method: Mix in a spray bottle and spray on clothes and in closets

Enjoy The Great Outdoors

Essential oils offer a natural and effective way to repel insects, providing a safer alternative to chemical-based repellents. Oils such as lemon eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, rosemary, cedarwood, and patchouli have proven effective against a variety of bugs. By understanding their properties and proper application methods, you can enjoy the outdoors without the nuisance of insect bites and infestations. Always remember to use these oils safely to maximize their benefits while protecting your skin and health.

References

Carroll, S. P., Loye, J. (2006). PMD, a registered botanical mosquito repellent with deet-like efficacy. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 22(3), 507-514.
 
Nerio, L. S., Olivero-Verbel, J., & Stashenko, E. (2010). Repellent activity of essential oils: A review. Bioresource Technology, 101(1), 372-378.
 
Maia, M. F., & Moore, S. J. (2011). Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malaria Journal, 10(Suppl 1), S11.