What Can Be Used As A Natural Insect Repellent: Effective 6

You can spend your time outdoors enjoying the natural beauty of the summer season. However, with the summer season comes insects and bugs. They are irritating, and sometimes it can be excruciating.

Most people become prone to mosquitoes because of light, humidity, and heat. However, if you are a mosquito magnet, you probably have itchy and bumpy skin.

The bug bites bring bug-borne disease1-carrying insects, which can threaten your children and your family. Many types of mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus, and some carry the malaria-like virus.

The thought of this can make you feel uneasy and scary. Also, repelling mosquitoes2 and other bugs with chemical repellants every day can harm your family.

So, you may think of some natural insect repellent, which can come in handy instead of chemical sprays. Many natural insect repellents have been used for generations and are very effective.

What Are Natural Insect Repellents?

The plant-based insect repellents have been used since ancient times. However, it was used as a personal insect repellent.3

Our predecessors have gained knowledge about these natural repellents from ethnobotanical studies. It was a valuable resource for the creation of natural products.

Lately, commercial insect repellant contains plant-based repellants and has gained a lot of popularity. Commercial plant-based repellents are very safe to use when compared to synthetic repellants.

However, there is still insufficient knowledge about mosquito repellents, and it needs further standardized studies. There needs to be better products that will ensure the complete safety of consumers from these plant-based repellents.4

Composition Of Natural Insect Repellents

Plants have a compound to protect themselves from the attack of phytophagous insects. The compounds of the plants have a defense against plant-eating insects.

However, they are also effective in repelling mosquitoes and other bugs.

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Photo by Lisa Hobbs on Unsplash

Plants often produce green leaf volatiles when their leaves get damaged. The mosquito repellents have geranyl acetate and Citronella, and some geranyl acetone. Also, it is found that the same odor that responds to DEET also affects thujone eucalyptol and linalool in Culex quinquefasciatus.

DEET has a receptor named OR83b, and Citronella stimulates this. However, it is also modified by the TRPA1 cation channel.

You may wonder why the plant volatiles are repelling mosquitoes and other bugs. This is because they have high vapor toxicity to insects.

What Can You Use As A Natural Insect Repellent?

In earlier days, they hung the plants in houses to sweep the bugs and bite insects. The plants were also used as crude fumigants 5to use the bug repellent’s property. The repellency property of the plant materials is now been used for hundreds of years. 

However, they were burnt to use the property, and later the oil formulations were applied on the skin or clothes for mosquito protection and to increase repellent efficacy.

Since the only method available to them for preventing mosquito bites6 is natural repellents. The plant oils are still used in the traditional form but in rural areas.

However, natural insect repellents are used more in some areas in Europe and North America because they think plant-based repellents are much safer and more efficient.

1. PMD Extracted From Lemon Eucalyptus

The lemon eucalyptus7 is also known as Corymbia Citriodeora or Myrtaceae. It is a natural insect repellent extracted from the lemon eucalyptus leaves.

The oil of lemon eucalyptus is an essential oil with more than 85% citronella oil. Also, this essential oil is used in the cosmetic industry since it has a refreshed smell and has no risk of skin irritation.

It is acknowledged that the leftover water distillate of hydro-distillation from the essential oil is incredibly effective in repelling mosquitoes. This water is more effective than the essential oil itself.

The extracted oil of lemon eucalyptus repels mosquitoes for some minutes. The lemon eucalyptus oil effect can even last for multiple hours. The essential oils found in most plants are not as long-lasting and effective as this natural oil.

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Photo by Brienne Hong on Unsplash

However, the lemon eucalyptus oil leaves the user unprotected and lasts for a few minutes. But, the para-menthane 3, 8 diols, comparatively has a low vapor pressure and witch hazel, thus giving more protection and lasting for hours since this insect repellent has a broad range of insect repellant protection.

PMD is a natural bug repellent extracted from the lemon eucalyptus plants and confirmed for use in disease-prone areas. The lemon eucalyptus oil has an excellent record in preventing mosquito bites and diseases like malaria and yellow fever. Moreover, this has no serious risk to human health.

However, you should know that this insect repellent does not have Environmental Protection Agency registration for use as a natural bug repellent. But, it is very much effective for repelling disease-carrying insects.

How to make it?

Mix one part of the lemon eucalyptus oil with the other ten parts from sunflower oil to make this repellent. You can even use witch hazel in the mixture. But, it would be best if you were careful in front of kids while using this.

2. Citronella Oil

Essential oils extracted from the citronella genus plants are often used as plant-based mosquito repellants. The Cymbopogan nardus 8is mainly sold in Europe and North America out of all the natural oils extracted from this tree.

Citronella has been very popular now and has made its way into many pest control companies. However, people use this natural oil in perfumery, and the name for this oil was derived from the French Citronella in 1858.

In the early days, this oil was used as a bug repellent by the Indian Army. Since then, Citronella has been used as a natural bug repellent and is widely used. However, this mosquito repellent is used within 5-10% concentrations, lower than other commercial repellants.

If any repellant has high concentrations, then it can cause skin irritation. Unfortunately, there has not been enough research on essential oils extracted from Citronella’s efficiency.

However, citronella oil can only protect the user from the host-seeking mosquitoes for one to two hours.

Citronella oil contains citronellal, geraniol, citral, alpha-pinene, and limonene, equally effective as DEET. However, the oils evaporate very quickly, which results in a loss of efficiency and also leaves the user unprotected.

However, the volatile oil release is delayed by adding the essential oils of Cymbopogon winterianus 9and 5 percent of vanillin. Through this, the natural bug repellent’s protection time is also increased.

Lately, the release rate of oils has been delayed more with the help of nanotechnology. From this achievement, the protection time of the natural bug repellents is increased with a broad range of mosquito repellent abilities.

Also, the encapsulated citronella oil is made from homogenization with 2.5 percent of surfactant and 100 percent of glycerol. It forms regular droplets, which can prolong the retention of the oil and delay the release even more. If the release of volatile is reduced, the mosquito repellent property will last longer.

There is even another method for increasing the protection time of essential oils extracted from the Citronella. With the help of these technologies, a natural bug repellent will change the repellent market and increase the use of natural bug repellents.

The bug repellent’s property will last for 30 days by adding the Gelatin-Arabic gum microcapsules.

However, a citronella-based repellent compound must not be used in disease-prone areas. However, areas that are not developed or do not have natural alternative repellants can use Citronella bug repellent. It can even protect from disease vectors.

3. Neem

The most widely used natural bug repellent is Neem. This natural bug repellent has been tested against arthropods. The results of neem are compelling in preventing mosquito bites.

However, the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency) has not given any approval for the use of neem as a topical repellent.

The neem results for bug repellent can be due to varying methodologies and the different solvents used. Also, neem oil has low dermal toxicity, which has a high rate of causing skin irritation. It can even cause dermatitis if used when it is undiluted.

Moreover, neem oil is not proposed for use as an insect bite repellant for travelers in disease-prone areas. However, neem oil can protect against mosquito-borne diseases.

However, you can use neem oil in your house. It is an excellent natural alternative, and you can use it for mosquitos.

How to use it?

You can add some tablespoons of neem oil to your room and check this out. However, if the bug sprays are not mixing well with the neem spray, shake it and add a little glycerin. Neem oil works excellently with some drops of fragrant oils.

4. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is often used as an active ingredient while making a homemade bug repellent. When making bug sprays using natural ingredients and essential oils, you can also add some drops of lavender oil to give it a pleasing fragrance.

However, you can even use this oil to get repellent activities. This bug spray may not work as effectively as other essential oils but can be used temporarily.

How to make it?

To make the lavender oil, you need to crush the flower. Apply some oil to the itching parts of your body. It can be your knee, ankle, or elbow. You can even drop some lavender oil on your clothes to repel insects.

5. Cloves Spray

The clove oil is also effective with other active ingredients and essential oils. However, you can use this oil to enhance the properties of repellants, which can prevent insects well.

Clove oil is an essential plant-based oil that is quite potential. It is firm, so do not apply it over your hands or skin.

6. Catmint Oil

A plant named Nepeta Parnassica is a member of the mint family, which is related to the catnip. This plant can repel mosquitoes.

The Nepeta Parnassica bears flowers, one of pink color and the other of white color. They grow about eighteen inches. However, the precious part of this tree is the bruised leaves and the extracted oil from it.

It is acknowledged that the oil of this plant can repel bugs for at least three hours. Furthermore, it is more effective than the DEET. It is about 10 times more powerful and effective.

Other Oils Which Are Natural Bug Sprays

Many oils can repel mosquitoes and come in handy when you do not have a proper repellent.

Mosquitoes can not tolerate the smell of the oils and thus lose control and may even die. Moreover, with the help of oils, you can keep bugs out of your house. You may even try this on different bugs available.

The other plant-based oils, which can be effective against insects and are used in natural bug sprays

  • Cinnamon oil

This oil can kill mosquito eggs. Also, it can act as a repeller to adult mosquitoes. To make this, you just one percent of the solution and mix 24 drops of cinnamon oil.

  • Soybean oil 

It has been learned that only two percent of the solution of soybean oil can give you protection against mosquitoes for at least two hours.

To make this at your home, add lemongrass oil to this oil.

  • Tea tree oil

  • Coconut oil

  • Catnip oil

  • Peppermint oil

  • Thyme oil

You can even make some repellents at your home.

Nowadays, candles are being trendy over other products. It is straightforward to make citronella candles with all the properties of bugs repel.

You can add the oils to the wax with some drops of citronella oil. Let the wax get relaxed, and do not forget to store the citronella candles in any container to get the shape of a candle.

However, it would help to be cautious when lighting the citronella candles. Please wear a mask till the candle burns.

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Image From: Shutterstock

Also, you can make an excellent homemade balm to keep the bugs in check. Make a mixture of beeswax, coconut oil, and some cocoa butter. Add some essential oils to it. Gradually the bug balm will be created, which also can repel mosquitoes.

Moreover, peppermint oil is also a good repellent. You can even add some drops of it to make it smell good. It will make a good repellent and will also ensure good consumer safety.

Even you can make the PMD repellant at home. Try adding half the cup of water and another of witch hazel. You can even add some drops of vinegar to it. After this, you need to add about 35-40 drops of lemon eucalyptus oil.

If the repellant does not work correctly, you can add some more drops of the oil. However, remember this homemade repellant is not child-friendly, so make sure you use it cautiously.

You can even add some good-smelling oil to make the fragrance smooth.

Is DEET Helpful?

Using DEET depends on your situation. If you are in a situation with just some mosquitoes, then the natural bug repellents will work. However, if you are in a situation where most mosquito types carry disease, you want something that is a powerful repellant.

DEET is an insecticide that can hurt your nervous system. Even the American Mosquito Control Association also recommended using repellents with a concentration of DEET not more than 30 percent since more than 30 percent of concentration can cause harm to infants.

Also, make sure not to apply DEET directly to young children. However, the best time to use the DEET is when you are out of your home or not close by. Also, if you are home, you can use DEET of 10 percent concentration. Again, make sure not to use DEET for more than 2 hours.

However, if the situation is terrible, and you have to use DEET on your kid, avoid using it over the skin. Instead, you can apply DEET on the cloth. Also, give a mask to your child so as not to inhale much of the chemical composition.

Whenever you touch DEET, do not forget to wash your hands. Since this can cause skin problems, wash your child’s skin to clear any evidence of DEET.

Risk Of Using DEET

The complete form of DEET is N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It is an active ingredient that is present in various repellants. It is present in liquids, sprays, and all other local repellents.

DEET protects against biting insects. Bugs even give you tick protection. Lately, there are more than 100 products on the market with DEET in them.

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Image From: Shutterstock

However, the Environmental Protection Agency Of the US claims that DEET will not harm health if used properly. However, there are some cases where you will face some symptoms from using DEET. You may face

  • Irritation, moist eyes pain

  • Swelling of the skin, or rashes

  • Puking or sickness if it is consumed by mistake

It would be best if you used DEET correctly:

  • Do not apply DEET over the skin

  • Make sure not to use it for long

  • Wash your skin after you use DEET

Other Ways To Repel Bugs

You must know that natural repellents are not the only way to repel the bugs out of your area. There are some nontoxic methods by which you can fight the mosquitoes.

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Photo by Philip Veater on Unsplash
  • Use of Fans

This tip is straightforward, and most of them use this. The mosquitoes have a really tough time flying in heavy wind. So, whenever you are sitting or sleeping, you can use a ceiling fan or window fan to disturb the maneuvering of mosquitoes.

  • Full Sleeves and Pants

It is very obvious. However, this is very safe even from the natural repellants. But, a mosquito can bite even from a thin shirt. So, wearing something thick can help you temporarily prevent mosquito bites.

  • Environment Control

Make sure to clean the areas with blocked water. If you have any birdbath area in your garden, then clean it, and you can fill it with dirt and reservoirs. It can give birth to mosquitoes and, as a result, can start biting you.


Even if you use mosquito repellents, you will still have swelling on the skin and itching due to mosquito bites.

Intense research is still needed to evaluate repellent compounds as more effective. Some missing spaces are left to make the repellants more powerful in repelling insects and less harmful.

However, it would be best if you still were more careful about using repellants to preserve the natural world. It can harm you if you do not use it properly. So, be safe while using it.

Most people do not want to expose themselves to the chemicals used in repellants. You should not be exposing your child and pregnant women to the repellants.

However, you can make natural insect repellent at your home with little concentration and proper precautions. Also, you can read about tropical medicine to learn more about the repellants.

The herbs are potent, and they are not so harmful to health. Experimenting with the herbs and their oils can be fun, and also you can protect your family from insects during the summer season.

Shake the mixture well, and warm it until it reaches boiling. Then cool it down and add some oils and witch hazel. You can even mix water with witch hazel and then store it in a spray container. 

5 Common Insect-Borne Diseases & Their Causes
Icy Health

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  2. Ansari, M. A., and R. K. Razdan. “Relative efficacy of various oils in repelling mosquitoes.” Indian journal of malariology 32.3 (1995): 104-111. ↩︎
  3. Debboun, M., and D. Strickman. “Insect repellents and associated personal protection for a reduction in human disease.” Medical and Veterinary Entomology 27.1 (2013): 1-9. ↩︎
  4. Maia, Marta Ferreira, and Sarah J. Moore. “Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing.” Malaria journal 10 (2011): 1-15. ↩︎
  5. Shaaya, E., et al. “Plant oils as fumigants and contact insecticides for the control of stored-product insects.” Journal of Stored Products Research 33.1 (1997): 7-15. ↩︎
  6. Kongkaew, C., et al. “Effectiveness of citronella preparations in preventing mosquito bites: systematic review of controlled laboratory experimental studies.” Tropical Medicine & International Health 16.7 (2011): 802-810. ↩︎
  7. Jaenson, Thomas GT, Samira Garboui, and Katinka Pålsson. “Repellency of oils of lemon eucalyptus, geranium, and lavender and the mosquito repellent MyggA natural to Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) in the laboratory and field.” Journal of medical entomology 43.4 (2006): 731-736. ↩︎
  8. Sawadogo, Ignace, et al. “Antifungal and antiaflatoxinogenic effects of Cymbopogon citratus, Cymbopogon nardus, and Cymbopogon schoenanthus essential oils alone and in combination.” Journal of Fungi 8.2 (2022): 117. ↩︎
  9. Wany, Aakanksha, et al. “Chemical analysis and therapeutic uses of citronella oil from Cymbopogon winterianus: A short review.” International Journal of Advanced Research 1.6 (2013): 504-521. ↩︎

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