It is definitely bug season now! Our local nature preserve flooded this spring and it is a mosquito haven now, with lots of flesh exposed stand up paddle boarders ripe for the pickings! This got me (well actually my husband) to thinking that I should write about natural insect repellents. With all the picnics, hikes, and camping going on we need a healthy way to not get bit!

For starters, most insect repellents have nasty chemicals that we don’t want anywhere near our bodies, let alone inside them via the skin. Keep in mind anything you put on your skin hits your liver within 20 seconds, so would you feel comfortable eating deet? Cuz, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you spray it on your body.

Deet is capable of causing side effects including rashes, skin irritations, numbness, burning lips, nausea, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating (just to name a few). Not good. And as a bonus, studies on rats found that frequent and prolonged exposure to deet led to brain cell death and behavioral changes. Bottom line, that is super not good. Some studies, and of course our very own EPA say it’s safe, but I’m sure not taking the chance! Those guys have proven again and again that they don’t have our backs!

But, we don’t want to get eaten alive either. Lots of people can even react to bites, not to mention bugs can give us some nasty stuff too. Lyme comes to mind immediately. So, what’s an outdoor enthusiast to do?!?

Luckily there are lots of cool home remedies to ward off bugs, like eating garlic, and I’m here to say essential oils do the job quite well. Plus, they have the added benefit of improving our health (not wreaking it) and smelling nice to boot!

Citronella is the first essential oil that comes to mind, but did you know Lemon Eucalyptus keeps those critters away too? As does Cornmint? And, Lemongrass? There are lots and lots of essential oils you can use, but here’s a nice recipe I like: geranium, lavender (any species), and patchouli. I include this mixture in my DIY deodorant, and voila I’m bug protected as well! Another great recipe is lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, and any sage – such as clary or true or purple. I have used mugwort, cedarwood, and lemon in the past as well with excellent results.

You do have to apply and reapply to keep the bugs away, but I love putting essential oils on so the more the merrier in my book. I’m normally not a fan of blends, but in this case it is fine to mix up a small batch of any of these oils and take it on a hike or paddle board with you. Since we aren’t using this blend for specific health improvement, but just to keep the mosquitos from biting us, it doesn’t matter if the vibratory rate of each essence gets reduced through the blending. But, if you’re looking for the therapeutic effects, don’t blend. It just loses it’s efficacy with time, so it is better to layer and use each essence individually, one at a time on top of each other. But, I digress…

There is also this great herbal insect repellent I LOVE from Green Earth Farm out of Colorado. That’s my shout out to them. The convenience of a spray is nice to throw in a pack as I head out the door. It has a water, aloe, neem (great bug repellent) and jojoba oil base with the essential oils of lavender, citronella, lemon eucalyptus, geranium, cedar, and lemongrass – all the bug heavy hitters! They have some other great products too for natural sun protection and skin care.

So, skip the deet or any other chemical insect repellent and go for something natural, from the earth that will not only keep the bugs away but improve your health and make you smell divine! Thanks, I’ll keep my nervous system intact exactly as it is!