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Repelling Insects with Essential Oils

Everyone knows that familiar itch on an arm or a leg—an itch that no amount of scratching can ever satisfy. Maybe the itch came from a day out in the garden. Or maybe it appeared during a jog through the neighborhood. Wherever there was a bit of standing water or a square of moist ground. Mosquitoes love anywhere that’s damp.


Mosquito bites are bothersome and can also be very dangerous since these insects are such ideal carriers for diseases and viruses such as Malaria and Zika. Because no positives can ever come from getting a mosquito bite, using a repellent whenever exiting the house and entering the wild outdoors is always a good idea.


However, most commercially manufactured repellents contain harmful parabens and chemicals, referred to commonly as DEET (N,N-diethyl- meta-toluamide). DEET has been shown to cause brain and nervous system damage. Because of these harmful side effects, many people are opting for a safer, more natural method to ward off unwanted insects. Essential oils are an option that boast the same success as commercial repellents but without the dangerous side effects.


Essential oils are amazing for their healing and natural properties. Through essential oils, many people have found cures for diseases, treatment for pain, and needed relaxation. One of the most beneficial uses for essential oils in every day life is using them as a mosquito repellent. There are four essential oils in particular that are appropriate to use for this purpose—lavender, geranium, peppermint, and citronella.


People have been using lavender for hundreds of years as a natural healer. The aroma is wonderful in of itself. Linalool, one of lavender’s active ingredients, is healing to topical injuries, such as burns or cuts. Lavender is also a muscle relaxer, which is why so many people find this oil useful for soothing headaches and cramps. Another beneficial usage for lavender is warding off unwanted insects. Plus, if it’s too late and a bite has been contracted, lavender can be dropped onto the bite, and it will sooth the site. Planting lavender near fruit trees assists in warding off pesky insects; likewise, having lavender plants around the home keeps mosquitoes and gnats away from it. Lavender’s properties are strongest in its essential oil form, especially when it is used in combination with citronella.


Reflective of its name, citronella boasts a sweet, citrusy aroma. An Asian grass, this rich essential oil is widely used as an anti-inflammatory, hygiene scent, and effective insect repellent. Citronella candles are often lit on the patio during summer activities outside, and some claim that insects will come no closer than ten feet from the substance. In fact, this oil has been classified as a bio pesticide that is non-toxic. Flea collars oftentimes have citronella in them as a repellent that is safe to put on animals. Citronella may even help repel those insects that carry mosquito-born diseases, as well.  This strong oil is enough to confuse the insects enough to stay away from it, but the oil does not harm the bugs. Additionally, citronella’s antifungal properties allow it to sooth insect bites, as well.


Peppermint may be the most widely used essential oil since its reputation as a headache soother, cold reliever, and pain reliever is unbeatable. The peppermint plant from which the oil is derived is a cross between spearmint and water mint. This oil works wonderfully to repel insects. If one sprinkles a few drops of peppermint oil along any entrance where ants are coming in the house, the ants will not cross the minty line. In addition to mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, and lice are all repelled by this smell and will not come near when they sense it. Much like other oils, peppermint can also be used to relieve skin that already has a rash or bite since it is an anti-inflammatory. 


Geranium oil has a wide variety of useful properties as well. This plant, a native to South Africa, is oftentimes compared to a rose since their essential oils have many of the same properties. Geranium is good for boosting moods, treating acne, and healing wounds. Topically applying geranium oil can assist in skin’s appearance and help relieve itching from bug bites. Expecting mothers and young babies should seek medical advice before using geranium oil, though, since research is still being done on how it affects these groups of people. Geranium’s wonderful aroma will add a burst of flowery goodness to any blend of oils in addition to its topical benefits.


Rubbing an essential oil blend made from the oils described above on one’s pulse points, behind the ears or on the wrists, will allow body heat to distribute the oil evenly throughout the body, creating a barrier for any lurking gnats or mosquitoes. Any blend of these oils should be stored in a cool, dark place since they react both to extreme temperatures and to light.

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