How to Repel Mosquitoes

How to Repel Mosquitoes

How to Repel Mosquitoes

If you are a bug magnet, like I am, you are already getting nervous about this summer’s impending mosquito invasion. And even if you’re not an irresistible attraction for hungry Arthropods, the opportunity to avoid being bitten is always something to aspire to.

In Naturally Bug-Free (Storey Publishing, 2016), author Stephanie L. Tourles offers over 75 DIY recipes for keeping the biting bugs at bay. Made with easily accessible herbs and essential oils like geranium, eucalyptus, neem and many more—with recipes also safe for children and pets—this little handbook was as attractive to me as I am to mosquitoes.

My eye was immediately drawn to a section called “Don’t Be a Mosquito Magnet: 3 Ways to Guarantee Fewer Bites.” Who knew that mosquitoes are color-sensitive? “Mosquitoes respond to dark colors, especially blue and brown,” says Tourles, “so wear light-colored clothing with loose, long sleeves.”

When I was a young child, my grandfather would mix a bit of sugar and water and apply it to my swathes of bites to soothe the itch. But there wasn’t much available at that time—aside from heavy-duty chemical repellents—to prevent the bugs from biting in the first place.

If you’re traveling to the Amazon, or heading to Zika-infested areas, of course you may need those nasty-but-muscular chemical repellents. But for a normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill mosquito scenario, there are now many beautiful natural products available that will do the job. I can attest from personal experience that when I remember to use them, they really do work!

At a recent visit to The Art of Living Center, in Boone, NC,  director of the Ayurveda Program, spotted the constellation of bites encircling my elbow and had an ayurvedic remedy ready. “Make a paste with turmeric and ghee,” she said. “You will feel better right away.” And guess what? I did.

In lieu of DIY, here are some great product recommendations.


This interesting essential oil and alcohol-based product doubles as a fragrance. Normally, fragrance can attract bugs, but this smells really good and—with its blend of vanillin and essential oils—keeps the bugs at bay. A slim roll-on is my vehicle of choice. 

Farmaesthetics Tansynella Organic Bugscreen Oil

With eucalyptus, citronella and rosemary oils, this organic oil wards off pesky bugs, black flies and mosquitoes. You can even apply it to your picnic table and lawn chairs to banish the bugs.

Erbaviva Buzz Spray

This USDA certified organic repellent with biodynamic ingredients contains lemon eucalyptus, cedarwood, citronella and lemongrass, which actually spell pretty warm and woodsy—and really work.

All Terrain

A GMO-free spray with citronella, geranium and peppermint oils is especially great for hiking due to its non-irritating time-release formula that is also sweat resistant.

Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent

With essential oils of lemongrass, clove and geranium, the scent is pleasing to humans, but effectively repels biting bugs. Plus, the container is recyclable.

Badger Balm Anti-Bug Balm

A handy little stick that can’t be beat for portability, this product is top-loaded with the classic bug-repelling essential oil lineup: citronella, cedar, lemongrass and rosemary, in a base of beeswax and extra virgin olive oil, to soothe and moisturize the skin at the same time. Great for grownups and kids, too!

Badger Balm After-Bug Stick

When the inevitable (for me!) happens, this USDA-certified organic stick will soothe the itching, with colloidal oatmeal, coconut and sunflower seed oils, lavender and tea tree essential oils and extracts of sea buckthorn.