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Just as you start to dust off your shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops, and daydream of evenings on the porch, hiking in the woods, and picnics by the creek, the mosquitos, no-see-ums, and all their other buzzing friends also come out to play. Things can then become miserable and even unbearable.

There are ways, however, that we can all live a little more harmoniously with the biting bugs without the use of chemical-based insect repellents that include problematic ingredients such as DEET. There are plenty of natural insect repellents available to buy at pharmacies and wellness stores, but it is also pretty simple to whip up a batch for yourself.

The wonderful thing about making your repellent is that you are in control of what you put on your skin. You can start with choosing a carrier oil (or other dilution that suits you) and finish by choosing the perfect essential oil blend.

A bonus is that while your homemade insect repellent is busy staving off those flying foes, you can inhale the heavenly, heady aromas of the essential oils while your skin absorbs all the health benefits from a slathering of oil.

Before you start with your DIY bug repellent concoctions, let’s take a look at some of the most effective essential oil that you can choose from.

Diluting Your Essential Oils

Source: Laura Ascher/YouTube

Essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin and come with all kinds of individual warnings. Thorough research must be done before using new essential oil. Diluting essential oils in what is known as carrier oil is very important. A  carrier oil is a base oil into which a prescribed number of essential oil drops are dropped. Coconut, olive, almond, and grapeseed oils are some that are commonly used.

The mixture of carrier oil and essential oil can then be applied to the skin leaving you smelling gorgeous, all moisturized, and, hopefully, bite-free.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus is a popular essential oil used in insect repellents. It has a powerful lemony scent and contains the compound citronellal, which is the key mosquito-repelling component. Its aroma is a powerful decongestant, so be careful when putting it on your face. You will soon have clear sinuses, too.

Citronella Oil

This is another lemony-scented essential oil that is derived from Asian grass. This oil is said to be very effective in repelling bugs but must be reapplied after 2-3 hours.

Tea Tree Oil

For something a little different, try tea tree. It has a medicinal, woody smell and comes with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which can help treat the little bites that you have already received. Try using a few drops of tea tree oil in your repellent.

Peppermint Oil

The benefits here are again twofold. Peppermint oil is useful in repelling insects as well as soothing any bites that you already have. Applying some peppermint oil to your bite will help cool the itching. Dotting peppermint plants around your home can also work to keep bugs at bay in the first place.

Thyme Oil

Thyme oil is said to be very effective in repelling mosquitoes. Some studies report that it can be up to 97.3% effective. Again, an insect repellent made from thyme needs to be replied often. Also, plant thyme in pots around your porch for extra protection.

Geranium Oil

Geraniol is the compound that bugs hate in this lemony and floral-smelling oil. This oil is derived from a true geranium plant (pelargonium citrosum), not from the geraniums you commonly find in flower pots and garden beds. That said, this plant can often be found at nurseries and is often labeled as a ‘citronella plant’.

Catnip Oil

This is another plant from the mint family. Though it may attract cats, it certainly does not attract mosquitoes. Studies show this oil to be effective in repelling mosquitoes for up to 3 hours. Be sure to reapply your repellent after a few hours.

So, before you head out into the great outdoors this summer, don’t forget to slip a bottle of homemade insect repellent into your bag. Hopefully, you can enjoy a bug- and bite-free summer.

Always seek medical advice before using any herbal remedy or essential oil for the first time. Always use carrier oils with essential oils and refer to individual essential oil bottles for recommended uses and dilution ratios. Ask a medical professional about your options if you are traveling to a country that has mosquitos carrying serious diseases such as Zika or malaria.

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