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May 23, 2018

Warmer weather means more time spent outside, beautiful fresh produce, morning coffee on a sun-drenched deck, and the start of annual gardening. Unfortunately, it also means the return of bugs (and the swelling and itch that comes with their bites).

Getting rid of these pesky insects is a nuisance that has expanded into an enormous industry… but bugs aren’t new to our environment, and people have been finding ways to fend them off long before the days of harsh chemical bug sprays and diffuser products.

If you’d like to try a more natural approach toward insect control this year, check out these 5 essential oils that repel bugs naturally (and smell great!).


Citronella essential oil is extracted from a crisp, lemon-scented grass (similar to lemongrass) that mainly grows in Asia and the South Pacific. While this oil has many health benefits, it’s most well-known for its properties as a natural insect repellent. Citronella essential oil has been shown to both repel and eliminate insects and is particularly effective on mosquitoes, lice, and fleas. (1) It can be blended with other essential oils, diffused, or even added to candles, carrier oils, and soaps.


Peppermint oil is extracted from the leaves and stems of the peppermint plant, and it is thought to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. One additional property that is less commonly known is peppermint oil’s natural ability to repel a variety of insects. Research has shown that this oil has a powerful repelling effect on adult mosquitoes, and many have reported using peppermint oil (mixed with a bit of vinegar) in the home to deter spiders. (2, 3)


This popular essential oil has many health and wellness benefits and is best known for its calming and relaxing properties. What you may not have known about lavender oil is that it is also highly effective at keeping the bugs at bay and has long been used as a key ingredient in natural mosquito repellents (it works particularly well when combined with citronella). (4) In addition to mosquitoes, lavender oil is also thought to repel flies, ants, bed bugs, fleas, and moths. (5)


Geranium oil is a potent essential oil extracted from geranium flowers that is used to help with a variety of health conditions. It is rich in a natural compound known as geraniol and smells floral with peppery notes. Mix this oil with other essential and carrier oils to repel mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and ticks (and make sure to wash it off at the end of the day – it can stain some fabrics). (5, 6)

Lemon Eucalyptus

Last but not least, lemon eucalyptus oil has long been used as a natural insect repellent and is one of the more well-known natural options. It has also been approved by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent. (7) This oil is different from ‘regular’ (globulus or radiata) eucalyptus oil, and smells quite a bit different too – make sure you are specifically choosing ‘lemon eucalyptus’ if you intend to use it as a bug repellent. (8)







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