Saturday, May 4, 2013

Homemade Insect Repellents

It is that time of year already. I have picked about 4 ticks off of my dog and have gotten two off of me. We are going to jump into homemade insect repellent and homemade insect killer. No I am not going to tell you to keep a jar of soapy water and pick them off and throw them in I am going to try to cover more functional methods of insect control.

First I would like to point out that a tick is not an insect it is actually an arachnid. So these remedies should work on mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. I am trying to include the ones that make the most sense and will be simple to make.


The simplest that I have heard about is to put 10 drops of eucalyptus oil into a bottle of sunscreen. The oil will not diminish the effectiveness of the sunscreen and it will provide protection against all types of biting insects.

Diesel Fuel

Yep, I said diesel fuel. When I was a kid my dad, grandfather and I would go to cut firewood. We were literally surrounded by ticks and chiggers. My dad was a chigger magnet. A chigger is a mite that in its larval state feeds on blood and causes intense discomfort. We would coat our work boots and belt with diesel fuel, this did an effective job of keeping the ticks and chiggers away. I do not really suggest this unless you have a belt and boots that you don't really care about.


I have used vinegar. Basically the same manner as we used diesel fuel, but this can also be sprayed onto clothing, on pets, around the house and even in the yard. Mix 2 cups of water to 1 cup of white vinegar. You can add a couple of drops of an essential oil to add fragrance.

Essential Oils

You can really use any of the very fragrant oils. Mix 2 tablespoons of cooking oil into 1 cup of water with 20 drops of a fragrant essential oil. Rose geranium oil, peppermint oil, or lavender oil  would make good choices. Essential oils can be purchased at many health food stores, I have provided links below to purchase through Amazon, and I will include a short explanation of making your own essential oil. This can be sprayed on clothing or exposed skin. Please do not spray close to eyes, nose, or mouth. These areas are very sensitive.

If you are not into making your own, please do not use any insect repellent that contains DEET. If you would like some information on the dangers of DEET you can read a past post that covers it briefly HERE. But you can by premade all natural insect repellents. I will provide a link to one such product.

After working or playing in an area where ticks are prevalent, be sure to have someone check you for ticks. I do not think ticks should become an overwhelming fear, but having knowledge can make us all stronger.

Insect Control

There are really two things that I suggest everyone try when dealing with insects as far as control. Are there situations when chemicals are the answer? Sure. There are times that heavy infestations may require the use of chemical pesticides. But there are other options that will kill the little buggers that are less hazardous to the world around us.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is also commonly called DE. It is basically the fossilized remains of plankton. So it is thousands even millions of little fossilized skeletons. I know that sounds gruesome, but it is not. The way it controls insects is a little complicated, but here goes my explanation.

DE is an indiscriminate killer of all critters with an exoskeleton. When the insect or arachnid walks through DE a few particles will stick to the insect. As they move this particle acts sort of like a porcupine quill and slowly works its way into the insect. Once inside DE dries the insect out from the inside. Basically it absorbs the moisture from the insect and they die. Like I said gruesome. Be aware DE with kill honey bees just as quickly as ticks. 

For a yard application just use a spreader or sprinkle around your yard. For garden application sprinkle or dust around your plants and on leaves, be careful to avoid the blooms. You do not want to kill your pollinator's. 

DE can also be used on pets and indoors. You can sprinkle or dust your pets. You can also sprinkle DE into carpets and on fabric furniture. Waite a day or two then vacuum up. Really quite simple.

Boric Acid

Boric acid and Borax have long been held as an effective insecticide. Borax contains boric acid or rather boric acid is made from borax. Boric acid is more highly refined.

Boric and Borax can both be effectively used to control insects. I cannot however be used to kill ticks, bedbugs, or aphids. For control of ants or roaches you can take either and make a bait. If you use boric acid you will be able to use a lot less. One teaspoon of boric acid to 10 teaspoons of sugar for ants and one teaspoon of boric acid to every 5 of sugar for roaches. The lower concentration for ants allows the ants to take the poison back to the colony. If you are using borax the mixture will be half borax and half sugar for both.

I say poison because that is what it is. Boric acid can be harmful to people, but the amount needed for boric acid to be harmful is really significant. Use either with wisdom.

I hope you have found this informational and helpful. May you obtain your
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes to you.

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  1. I work for an essential oil company, organic ones, no pesticide residues. We usually advise customers to put essential oils into a carrier oil like almond oil or jojoba oil, sold at healthfood stores, rather than cooking oil. Carrot seed oil is apparently natural sunscreen, and I think Eucalyptus and Lavendar are good for bug repellant. The customer service folks could probably explain which oils are best at bug repellant. Do you want the URL?

    1. I would very much like the url that would be great

    2. They mail order ship the oils and resins. Call them for help or advice, just keep in mind since its not FDA approved, there's limits to what they can say. Its a M-F 9/5 PDT operation so you'll need to wait till Monday. There's some EO antibiotics sold too. Again, not FDA approved so the explanations must be somewhat circumspect.

    3. I talked to the experts at work. For humans, the best bug repellant essential oils are Spanish Rosemary and Eucalyptus Globulus (variety) in water rather than a carrier oil. Its stinky, but it repells bugs and is safe on the skin and won't give you cancer. This might be enhanced with Carrot Seed Oil in a carrier oil which would add natural sunscreen effects (not FDA approved) but I have heard from various sources Carrot Seed does that. UV light still gives you cancer even if sunscreen prevents the burn, so wear long sleeves either way. I have a very nice wide brimmed hat for the critical hours of 10-3 PM where UV is strongest. It takes very little carrot seed oil to get around SPF 30. There are white papers on the internet which explain the concentration requirements. I raised the issue with work. We might end up having a pre-mixed product for sale if so.

      For repelling bugs in the garden the experts recommend either planting Marigolds, or using the Marigold oil, tagetes (ta hay tess (Mayan origin)) in water then sprayed. They mentioned other things going with it but I really can't remember what they were. Marigold oil was the key thing. Bugs are very repelled by it.

      I have those things in stock and a tube of each should last the summer, the carrot seed for years. Being essential oils they don't expire or oxidize if kept room temperature and in the dark like spices. If we get the combined sunscreen bug repellant approved I'll post a link for you here.

  2. Truly the above informative blog is mesmerizing.
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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thanks for the info! check this out for other effective herbal mosquito reppelent.

  5. Mosquitoes aren't only annoying but they are also harmful to our health. That's why I wanna thank you for sharing all these different insect repellants with us. As an additional thought, I would like to say that lemon is an effective mosquito repellant too, especially for our pet dogs. You can either carefully spray the lemon juice on your dog's fur or include them in your pet's diet. I hope this helps.
    Maurise @ Mosquito Squad

  6. Wow. I am definitely going share this with a few of my friends. Very cool information.
    stellar repeller