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DIY Natural Bug Spray and Tips for Outdoor Family Adventures

DIY Natural Bug Spray and Tips for Outdoor Family Adventures[Image via Flickr: “Springtime in Skipton Woods” by Alison Christine]

My idea of “roughing it” is staying at a hotel without a Concierge, but my family loves camping, hiking and enjoying the wilderness. Typically, I become Melman the second I come in contact with the great outdoors. “Ah! Nature! It’s all over me! Get it off!

I fear bugs the most. Ticks, spiders and mosquitoes! In the words of George Takei, “Oh my!” I would drench myself in sprays and fumigate my kids with those aerosol cans. DEET has been the subject of a debate regarding the health risks. Some studies suggest that the chemical, developed by the U.S. Army for use in jungle warfare during World War II, can affect a mammal’s nervous system. Other studies suggest that the use of DEET on clothing is harmless.

No matter what side of the debate you are on, there are several homemade natural bug repellent options.

Natural Oil Bug Repellent Guide

The key is to mix various essential oils to create a blend that is perfect for you and your needs. You can mix and match these natural oils to create a mixture that will repel bugs and they won’t leave you smelling toxic.

Rose geranium, Grapefruit oil – repels ticks
Lemon oil – fleas, mosquitoes, lice, flies
Lavender oil – fleas, mosquitoes, lice, flies, chiggers
Peppermint oil – fleas, gnats, mosquitoes, spiders

1. Mix equal parts boiled water and *vodka. (Witch Hazel can be used in place of vodka.)
2. Add 20-30 drops of each of your chosen oil for every 8 ounce batch you make.
3. Shake to mix well.

*Test drops of each oil on tiny areas of skin before creating a mixture. Pregnant or nursing women should check with their doctor before use. Not for use on children under 2. Check with your pediatrician.*

Quick Bug Repellent Tips

  • Wear long sleeves and tuck long pants into your boots. This will help prevent bites and ticks attaching themselves for a feast.
  • If you do find an attached tick, don’t be tempted to use one of those wacky methods involving nail polish or a lighter. Instead, safely and completely remove the tick by cleansing the skin with rubbing alcohol. Then, using sharp pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the attachment point on your skin as you can. Using steady pressure, pull the tick out in one solid motion. Ensure the entire tick has been removed. Cleanse the bite area with more rubbing alcohol.
  • Avoid tall grassy areas that are damp or shady. This is paradise for various types of bugs.
  • Try planting marigolds or mums around your house to naturally repel mosquitoes. Basil, rosemary and lemongrass are also great for keeping those bugs at bay and they are great to cook with!
  • Keep weeds and lawn trimmed.