Image by sskennel
By Nina, Contributing Writer
Last summer, my family made a 2000-mile roundtrip to Montana. We packed several items, from food to clothing. Not to be forgotten, of course, were natural remedies, especially insect repellent.
You see, mosquitos love me. A lot. My body, however, does not reciprocate. In fact, it reacts to mosquito bites by swelling up and turning purple around the sting site. Not pretty. And it itches SO bad. So you can imagine I do whatever I can to prevent said bites from happening.
Before leaving for our trip, I experimented with a homemade natural insect repellent I concocted after reading about a few different herbs and essential oils. Making this up the day before we left on our trip, without giving it a trial run probably wasn”t the best idea, but that”s just how I roll.
Here are the key players:
Yarrow is a pretty plant with tiny flowers that grows wild in many areas. The flowers contain a styptic property that helps stop bleeding very quickly. Yarrow tea is a good antibiotic for urinary tract infections and can help tighten the uterus after birth (however, avoid it if you”re pregnant). It also keeps bugs away, which I really love.
Lavender is well-known as a soothing scent to humans. When used in aromatherapy (and topically), lavender essential oil helps induce calm and lower stress. While bees love lavender, other bugs actually hate it. In fact, planting lavender in your garden can help keep other pests away.
Homemade Natural Insect Repellent recipe
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup yarrow flowers
- 1/4 cup lavender buds
- Lavender essential oil
Put your herbs and water in a saucepan and put it on high heat. Bring it to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let it steep for an hour, strain out the herbs and put the remaining infusion a glass spray bottle. Add 10 drops lavender essential oil.
To use, simply spray on bare skin before heading outside. If it”s pretty hot out, just let it sit on your skin and cool you off, otherwise rub it in. I had to reapply one night after about an hour when the mosquitos were particularly thick, but usually, one application before heading outside does the trick.
You could also make a larger batch and freeze part of it in ice cube trays to rub on your skin on especially hot days.
I”ve also sprayed this on garden veggies whose leaves were being eaten by bugs and was pleased to see that the bugs did not return to eat the leaves (spray once a day or less).
I recommend refrigerating the infusion to help it keep longer. I stopped using it on myself after about a week and a half because it didn”t smell so great anymore (infusions last way less time than tinctures), but I still used it after that to spray in my garden. It still kept the bugs away and I knew the plants wouldn”t put up a fuss about the smell.