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How to Repel Bugs Naturally (and Cheaply)

Posted on 5/14/2014 12:00 EST

Mosquitoes and fleas and wasps... oh my! Insects are a major drawback of the summer months but there are simple and cheap ways to repel bugs naturally. We've compiled a list of tips and DIY projects that can minimize the ick factor this season.

DIY Bug Repellent.

To cut costs, repel bugs naturally by making your own bug spray and lotion. Aside from the gratification of doing it yourself, you're sure to benefit from the chemical-free composition. Ingredients needed for a bug-repellent lotion bar include coconut oil; shea, coconut, or mango butter; beeswax; dried rosemary leaves; dried whole cloves; dried or fresh thyme; cinnamon powder; dried catnip; and mint leaf. The instructions at Wellness Mama are a bit time-consuming, but don't let that deter you.

cheap natural bug repellents
Photo by Gucio_55/Shutterstock

An easier (but possibly less effective) way to repel bugs is DIY bug spray, with directions courtesy of the same site. Simply boil a cup of water and add a tablespoon each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip, and lavender and a few cloves. Once the mixture has cooled, strain out the herbs and add a cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol and pour into a spray bottle. Store the brew in the refrigerator.

Need a quick-fix natural approach to keeping the bugs at bay? Mix vanilla and witch hazel and use as a spray; apply lavender oil to your skin; rub any type of mint (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, etc.) leaves over your body. Both WebMD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm that oil of lemon eucalyptus is a long-lasting, effective way to repel mosquitoes and ticks. A half-ounce bottle of lemon eucalyptus oil costs less than $5 and only a small amount is required to fend off blood-sucking insects. Just take a dab of the oil and rub it on your skin, avoiding the mouth area.

Homemade Citronella Candles.

Barbecues are a summer essential, but mosquitoes can turn this pastime into a nightmare. Rather than rushing to the store for an antidote, repel the insects naturally with DIY citronella candles. To get started you'll need safe-to-melt wax, crayons, containers (for melting the wax), wicks, citronella oil, spoon, thermometer, old jars, letter stickers, and hot glue. To make the citronella candles, heat water to 140 degrees, add wax and stir (adding in crayons gives the wax a nice color), then add citronella oil. Attach a wick to the bottom of each jar and pour in the melted wax (leave some wick showing), and let cool.

Create a Wasp Trap.

A little creativity (with a soda bottle) can save you lots of money and keep you from getting stung. To make a wasp trap, slice off the neck of a plastic soda bottle, turn it upside down, place the inverted neck into the opening, and secure in place with duct tape. For bait, mix sugar and water and smear petroleum jelly or cooking oil along the steep inner sides of the trap. Hang it from a tree and watch the wasps swarm its way.

repel bugs
Photo by sxc.hu/gorand1983

Use What's in the House.

Inevitably, ants find their way through every crevice in your home every time summer rolls around. To repel these bugs naturally, sprinkle cinnamon over the areas they seem to be coming from, along the back edges of kitchen counters, and around the cabinets. If cinnamon doesn't do the trick, try this recipe: 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons boric acid, and 3 cups warm water. Combine the ingredients in a jar, put some cotton inside the lid of a jar and saturate it with the mixture; leave on the counter and the ants will find it, drink up, and bring the "goodness" back to their nest.

Eliminate fleas from carpet and upholstery the natural way by sprinkling on some baking soda before vacuuming. If you own a pet, skip the pricey flea medications and bathe it in sea-salt water dressed up with rosemary.

Avoid Certain Foods and Consume Others.

How Stuff Works warns that mosquitoes are attracted to the lactic acid in human sweat. If you eat foods containing large amounts of salt and potassium, your body will produce more lactic acid and a scent that attracts insects. Staying away from foods with these components can help repel insects naturally and make mosquito bites a thing of the past.

To deter ticks and mosquitoes, down one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and include garlic in your diet. The addition of vitamin B1 to your morning routine might help repel pesky bugs, as well.

Wear Light-Colored Clothing.

Mosquitoes use their vision as one way to locate targets. Dark colors, such as black and dark blue, stand out to blood-seeking mosquitoes. Don light-colored clothes that are thin and breathable.

by Tahirah Blanding (Google+ Profile)

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