Natural Solutions to Fighting Summer Bugs

5 years ago

One look at my tan, bruised, bumpy legs would tell you: I live in bug country.

I recently moved from Colorado, a place too high and dry for much of a buzzy population, to North Dakota, a super moist spot with lots of high grasses and puddles. My arms and legs are peppered with 'mozzie' bites (leftover slang from my Australian adventures) and I even have one behind my ear, fer chrissakes. 'So what's your problem?' you may wonder, 'just get some repellent, get on with your life and stop whining.'

Yeah, there's a bit of a hitch with that plan, a trailer hitch, to be specific. See, I ripped up the deep roots of my comfortable Colorado life to explore a long-held fantasy of living on the family land to explore the realities of organic farming alongside Big Ag. Yay! So now I'm here, having a ball and getting eaten alive. Boo! That high-pitched buzzzzz has become a very real part of my woman-in-the-wild story. I just hate those little fuckers.

Image: John Tann via Flickr

"Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room."

--Christie Todd Whitman or Betty Reese or Anita Roddick or, anyway…SOME WOMAN

I have made a huge effort to contruct a cleaner life that actively avoids unnecessary chemicals, so why would I turn around and douse myself in DEET? I hate these bugs but I can't let them derail my whole mission here. It's like planting, weeding and hoeing all day and then heading to DQ for some deep fried dead animal washed down with plastic ice cream. One step forward, three steps back. 

So, I go where I always go with a life challenge, and the Internet Gods came through, sans sacrifice. I found a bunch of great recipes for DIY bug repellent and after some consideration, I settled on the one from There's a 'helpful' video but holy cow, it couldn't be any easier. Just put all this stuff together in a spray bottle and lightly shake it:

  • ½ tsp lemongrass essential oil
  • ½ tsp cedarwood essential oil
  • ½ tsp eucalyptus essential oil
  • ½ tsp lavender essential oil

Once mixed, add 4 oz. witch hazel and shake that too. DONE.

I've tried this solution and it certainly helps, though you may want to consider making a bigger batch because you need to apply a lot more than you would a chemical-based repellent, especially if you're a sweathog like me. The solution does have a light lemon scent, similar to a citronella candle. The biggest challenge I have now is remembering to apply it but it's slowly becoming part of my daily 'suit-up' routine. 

And because I am a few hundred miles beyond the middle of nowhere, I had to order supplies online. I priced the heck out of everything and in the end, went with Amazon. However, for the rest of you not living on the moon, the ingredients should be readily available at local health food stores, pharmacies or crunchy-esque grocery store.

BONUS: The super-smart Phoebe over at Getting Freedom From Debt offers a similar recipe but also cool 'Natural Bug Spray' stickers for your spray bottle. Gonna get me some!

Finally, if you are lazy and don't want to deal, here are some more natural solutions you can buy directly:

Burt's Bees 

All Terrain

California Baby 

Fly Swatters on Etsy 

What about ya'll? I know the bugs are out there in full force this summer. I'd love to hear about other alternative solutions, including really tiny light sabers.

Happy Repelling and/or Swatting!


BlogHer Section Editor, LIFE & GREEN; Proprietor, Second Chance Ranch

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