It’s a debate that rages through the camping world, that dons the headlines of such lofty publications as Porch Sitters Anonymous and Balcony Business Weekly, a concern that distracts woodsy hikers and urbanite park strollers alike: What exactly are we supposed to do with irksome bugs? How best can we deter them, as if suitors who simply don’t understand we are not interested yet continue pursuing unwanted interactions with us?

In the days of old, when we lapped up the horrible advice of chemical companies and product labels, there was DEET. However, as we’ve wised up, the thought of rubbing a toxic chemical pesticide all over our bodies seems less appealing than having a harem of insects feast on us. If DEET seems a viable option, perhaps this is not the article for you: Best of luck with that.


If, on the other hand, all-natural, homespun solutions seem the most desirable means of battling bug bites, well, then, let us proceed.

Using Space

While the tendency with insect repellents is to focus on slathering our skins with stuff, creating a safe place in which to frolic is probably a good step one for those readers of Porch Sitters Anonymous and Balcony Business Weekly. We can’t control what grows in the forest or parks, but we can cover our personal spaces with powerful plants. Yes, beautifying that balcony and patio can actually be a covert assault on insect senses, while producing some pretty tasty teas and delightful fragrances for ours.

It’s simple really. Get some pots, a little potting mix, and get to planting. Notable insect-repelling plants include lemongrass, citronella (It’s a plant!), lavender, pennyroyal, chrysanthemum, and marigolds. Then, there is feverfew (medicinal as well), mint, and basil. Not only will having these plants keep bugs out of the area in general, but they will also provide — naturally and freely — a green treasure chest of materials to create repellent potions.

Outside & Exposed

Apple cider vinegar


Source: Sea Wave/Shutterstock

Of course, humans are social animals, and we can’t survive on patios and balconies alone. We need to be able to get outside, stretch our legs and reconnect with nature, at least those parts of it not trying to suck our blood or take a chunk out of our exposed parts. For such situations, a little extra effort, a bit of something-something as it is often referred to, might bit necessary. Options are aplenty.


The Witch Hazel Brew

For those unfamiliar with witch hazel, it’s a medicinal plant that is often distilled and used in place of rubbing alcohol. To the distilled witch hazel (about half a cup), add an equal part of water. Then, it’s a few drops of essential oils of citronella, lavender, mint, clove, lemongrass, tea tree, and/or any scent that bugs don’t like (about forty drops in all).

The Kitchen Concoction

So, not everyone is into essential oils, though they are literally magical elixirs, so perhaps the kitchen is the next stop. Look in the spice cabinet for those recurring herbs of repellent prowess: lemongrass, mint, clove, basil and rosemary. Cover a few tablespoons in a cup of boiling water to create a concentrate (Put a lid on it to trap in all those valuable scents). Once its cool, strain out the herbs and add the infused water to an equal part of witch hazel.


The ACV Apothecary

Apple cider vinegar is some magical stuff: great for health benefits, great for cleaning the house, and also a wicked insect deterrent. Combine it with some powerful essential oils (or powdered leaves) like neem, catnip, or “four thieves” (a crazy powerful herb-spice blend). This will be an infusion mission that takes a couple of weeks. Add a couple of spoons of powder—or roughly 75 drops of essential oil—to the apple cider vinegar. Give it a little shake each day for the next couple of weeks. Cut it with an equal part of water before using it.

Romantic Repelling


Source: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

Last on today’s list we will be addressing the fact that all the romance has been left out of bug repelling. So obsessed are we in keeping the insects away that we forget it is nice to be nibbled from time to time, and nothing says romance like candlelight. So, why not fight off the insects and create some atmosphere in one swooning swoop?

For those of us riding the plant-based and all-natural wave, candle wax can be a bit of a tight balance, but there are options out there. Candelilla wax is natural and vegan, and it is readily available on Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs. Then all you have to do is simply melt the wax down with the right essential oils, such as those listed above. You only need to use a few drops per cup of wax, then can begin pouring it into a jar (or cup) with a wick fixed to the bottom.

Now it’s time to go forth without fear; create one or all of these and begin repelling the DIY, all-natural way.

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