Natural Insect Repellents

Don’t get bugged out – follow these simple recipes for homemade insect repellents to keep pests at bay.

| June/July 2017

Being outdoors during summer months will inevitably lead to encounters with flying and crawling insects. Both desirable and undesirable bugs are constantly battling it out in our yards. All gardens have bugs that help and bugs that harm. Some of the beneficial ones that can be found in your garden are dragonflies, ladybugs, and ground beetles. They feed on plant-destroying critters, such as aphids, caterpillars, and spider mites. This is nature’s way of keeping our environment well-balanced.

Bugs can also bug us. We all know how irritating a hungry mosquito is or how destructive a colony of ants can be.

While many insect repellents are on the market today, most of which contain synthetic chemicals and fragrances, functional alternatives also exist, including homemade options.

Insects use a multitude of inputs to locate their targets: carbon dioxide gradients, colors, and scents. You can use this information to make your body and home less enticing to flying and biting pests: Keep your home clean; dress in light, bright colors; and use scents that are unattractive to bugs, such as citronella, lemon, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. Many repellents are based on these scents, so if you’re sensitive to strong smells, try spraying fabric and doorways rather than your body. You could also light candles away from where you’re located to lure bugs toward the carbon dioxide the candles emit. Try tucking fresh herbs inside floral arrangements; mint, lavender, and basil are good options.

Finally, you’ll want to check your garden and yard for standing water. Mosquitoes are especially attracted to moisture, which is where they reproduce. Even a small amount, such as a puddle or an overwatered flower pot, will attract them. As a preventative, dump any and all standing water.

Plant-Based Repellents

Here are some popular natural and effective repellents you can try in your own home and garden.

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