Rethinking Bug Repellent: Natural Recipe + 8 Bug Repelling Plants

Looking for a natural bug repellent that works? Give this recipe a try, plus 8 bug-repelling plants to plant in your backyard! // The Ezer Wife photo by gabriel flores romero

As the weather warms up, the bugs come out to play..and to feast. Our first reaction is to douse ourselves and our kids in bug spray. Isn’t that what you do? That’s what we’ve always done. Until I found out that essential oils are like invisible shields to those blood-suckers.

Warning: Short Story. Last year my husband and I (and the pooch) went for a camping trip. I’m pretty organized, it’s rare that I forget to bring a trash bag or extra batteries for the lantern. I did however forget bug spray. And boy am I glad I did. The bugs were out thick. I mean thick my friends.

Wait, didn’t she just say she was glad she forgot her bug spray?! Yep. Yep, I did. That’s because I had my kit of essential oils. That weekend we enthusiastically and yet skeptically dabbed ourselves with lemon and lavender oils. And that’s all it took.

Rubbing a bit of those oils behind our ears and on our ankles did the trick. So, yes if you just wanted to purchase those from me, go right ahead. But while you’re at it, get the peppermint too, it’s worth it. Get the Intro Kit here.

Ingredients in Most Commercial Bug Sprays

DEET (aka N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) This pesticide is in most commercial bug sprays, although I’ve seen several products advertised as “DEET-free” as well. While governmental agencies back the safety of this ingredient, the Environmental Working Group shares some tips that just don’t add up. For instance, they recommend washing bug spray with DEET off once you come indoors (who is gonna do that, really?). They also use terms like “use just enough” or “avoid over-application”. Well, what is “just enough”? And why should it matter how much we use if it’s safe?

And then, how about some Ethanol or Butane? Propane anyone? What are we, about to light something up in a mountain of flame? Don’t roast your marshmallows too close to the fire, unless you too want to be squished between a cracker and melty chocolate. Isobutane or Fragrance? Yeah, because those sound delicious and I want to soak my skin in them.

Not really. Sorry, sometimes the sarcasm comes out involuntarily, especially when trusted bodies tell us that something is “okay” when clearly, with a little research, some ingredients are far from what I’d want to spray all over my body and have absorbed into my bloodstream let alone any little ones.

Looking for a natural bug repellent that works? Give this recipe a try, plus 8 bug-repelling plants to plant in your backyard! // The Ezer Wife

Homemade Bug Repellent

Witch hazel This is used for its anti-inflammatory effect (if you do get bitten, this will help with itching) and because it’s been used topically for a variety of ailments for hundreds of years (bruises, cuts, pimples, etc). The plant itself doesn’t create enough oil to make an essential oil, but its leaves, bark, and twigs are distilled in an alcohol solution to create the clear liquid. So yes, there is some alcohol in this too.

Water For as much witch hazel is used, we also use water in this recipe. Using water from the tap is okay, but we prefer purified to avoid some of the pathogen and microorganisms found in tap water.

Essential Oils While many oils act as bug repellents, we’ve made this recipe to include eucalyptus, lavender, and a doTERRA blend, Purify (which includes lemon, lime, pine, citronella, melaleuca, cilantro).

You will find this recipe, Bugs be Gone, in my Etsy shop soon!

Bug Repelling Plants

The following plants are shown to repel mosquitoes and other pests. Research optimal growing conditions for each of these plants as their success depends on location and time of year planted. Depending on where I could the seeds or plant, the following links will take you three places: Amazon (of which I’m an affiliate), Baker Creek Seeds and Seeds Now. Both seed companies offer non-GMO, organic, heirloom seeds. Yes!!

Citronella Grass

Bee Balm




Lemon Balm



What plants do you specifically put in your backyard to deter bugs? 

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