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 Since biting insects can harbor disease (malaria, west nile, lyme disease, etc)—and its annoying to be scratching anyhow, it is better to simply avoid getting bit in the fist place. 

Around the home, eliminate places where mosquitoes can breed, make sure that screens are in good condition, and plant plants that pests dislike.  In areas where this is difficult, protective clothing should be worn.  Chemical insect repellants can also be used, or there are herbal alternatives.

Bug Repellant
2 oz vodka or carrier oil
15 drops lavender essential oil
15 drops citronella essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
5 drops cedar essential oil (optional)
5 drops lemongrass essential oil (optional)

Mix and spritz on exposed skin (if in alcohol), or rub on exposed skin (carrier oil)…avoid clothing as oils can stain/discolor. (Remember, no insect repellent is effective against all bugs all of the time–essential oils are volatile, evaporate quickly, and must be reapplied regularly.)  If you use a carrier oil, try infusing catnip into the oil prior to mixing the essential oils.


Child-Friendly Herbal Insect Repellent (oil)
2 parts catnip leaves
1 part peppermint leaves
1 part rosemary, cut into 6-inch sprigs
enough carrier oil to cover the herbs……I recommend at least 1/2 c of grapeseed oil as grapeseed oil is high in vitamin E, which acts as a preservative
Lightly crush (fresh) herbs and place in clean glass jar. Infuse. Strain and store.

*note: According to a study at Iowa State University Department of Entomology, one of the oils found in catnip is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than potent chemicals such as DEET.
*if you are a cat owner, I’m not sure this is a good idea…lol




*Pest repellent plants for the garden include basil which deters mosquitoes and flies (and it tastes and grows well with tomato as a companion plant), henbit which is a general insect repellant, the mole plant which doesn’t deter bugs but will deter moles and mice, tansy deters ants and flies, peppermint deters flies, mosquitoes and ants (and also rats), and pennyroyal deters fleas (but is not meant to be ingested, so keep away from where kids and pets can ingest it). 

*Essential oils citronella and its cousin lemongrass, eucalyptus, bay laurel, lavender, thyme, geranium, and mint family plants (catnip, peppermint, etc) can be diluted in a carrier oil (you can also try infused oils of these plants), or added to aloe vera gel or witch hazel as a spray to repel insects.

*Real vanilla extract (as opposed to the flavoring) is reported to deter mosquitoes.  Real vanilla extract is also expensive…not sure the effectiveness of this, much less if it works in dilution (but at least it smells yummy…and is baby safe)

*Bentonite clay and echinacea tincture or powdered echinacea and lavender essential oil combined to form a paste/plaster to apply to insect bites and stings to relieve itching.

*Fresh leaf poultices can be made from plantain, chickweed, witch hazel or willow and applied to bites (to make a fresh leaf poultice, be certain you have identified plant properly, pick leaf, chew, apply to bite, cover with band-aid if needed to hold in place).
*Apply witch hazel to a cotton ball and cover with a band-aid to hold in place as a sort of mini compress to bug bites.