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How to Repel Bugs Naturally (and Cheaply)

Posted on 6/17/2015 9:34 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. Cheapism.com compiled a list of tips and DIY antidotes that can minimize the ick factor this season.

natural bug repellent
Photo by forest71/shutterstock

Make Your Own Bug Repellent.

Aside from the gratification of concocting DIY bug repellent at home, there's the added benefit of its 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. The site also provides instructions for brewing up bug spray right in your kitchen.

If you're looking for a quick-fix, natural approach to keeping bugs at bay, here are several: 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. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a long-lasting, effective way to repel mosquitoes and ticks, according to WebMD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A half-ounce bottle of lemon eucalyptus oil costs less than $5 and only a small amount is needed to fend off blood-sucking insects. Take a dab of the oil and rub it on your skin, but avoid the mouth area.

Craft Citronella Candles.

Barbecues are a summer essential, but mosquitoes can turn them into a nightmare. Rather than rushing to the store for an antidote, repel the insects the natural way with DIY citronella candles. You'll need safe-to-melt wax, crayons, containers (for melting the wax), wicks, citronella oil, spoon, thermometer, old jars, and hot glue (to affix wicks to bottom of jars). Heat water to 140 degrees, add wax and stir (adding in crayons gives the wax a nice color), then add citronella oil; pour melted wax into jar (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. Make a wasp trap by slicing off the top quarter of a plastic bottle, smear petroleum jelly or cooking oil along the steep inner sides of the bottle, place the inverted neck into the cut opening, and secure in place with duct tape. For bait, mix sugar and water and squeeze droplets into the bottom. Hang the trap from a tree and watch the wasps swarm its way.

Use What's in the House.

Ants inevitably find their way through every crevice in your home every time summer rolls around. To repel these bugs naturally, sprinkle cinnamon around 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 the animal in sea-salt water dressed up with rosemary.

Avoid Certain Foods and Consume Others.

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, such as pickled vegetables and dairy products, can help make mosquito bites a thing of the past.

To deter ticks and mosquitoes, down 1 to 2 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. When you're outside, don clothes in pale shades.

Remove Breeding Spots.

Stagnant bodies of water are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Get in the habit of regularly emptying areas that collect water, especially after heavy summer rainfalls and dewy mornings. Drains, pet-food dispensers, open containers, and other shallow areas easily collect small pools that harbor mosquitoes. Even small amounts of water are enough to attract mosquitoes and other pests.

Cover Up.

If you prefer not to slather your skin in chemicals and concoctions, covering your skin might be the second best line of defense against bugs. Long sleeves and full-length pants make it difficult for insects, including mosquitoes, to reach bare skin. In the summer, when mosquitoes are most active, opt for thin, breathable materials that cover most of your body.

Turn to Technology.

Technophiles might be attracted to digital bug repellents, especially when they're free. The Apple Bug Spray app uses a high frequency noise to deter mosquitoes and other small insects and Android's Insect Repellent app uses the same type of ultrasound to ward off ticks, flies, fleas, and more. The average human ear doesn't pick up these audio frequencies so you won't be pestered by constant noise while the app is activated.


Mosquitoes are attracted to body movement, heat, and the chemical compounds released during breathing and heavy physical activity. In the evening, when mosquitoes are most active, refrain from exerting yourself. Instead of working out or chasing after a ball, take a brisk stroll or watch the garden grow.

by Tess Rose Lampert (Google+ Profile)

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