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Fighting off the Pesky Bugs

How often do you go out to the yard to relax or enjoy your garden only to be driven inside by the pesky bugs that bite.  Well, since being a gardener is my life, I have come up with some ideas that I have actually tried and some that I find quite interesting and will for sure try.

You can start off with applying products to your skin or clothes (depending on how much coverage you have)  We have found a favorite in the Bath and Body Works Stress Relief cream .  We purchased it when we went on a cruise last year to prevent being bit while we were zip lining and while others around us were being bothered we weren’t so we knew it was a good one.

Other essential oils that you can make your own simple insect spray are choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint.  Some people are concerned with applying these directly on your skin so you can apply in a spray form on your clothes.  This is a recipe that I have seen and will be trying.

 Homemade Bug Spray Ingredients

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)


  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus. It works great and smells good too!

Another method that I will be trying since we are starting a medicinal herb garden will be to dry herbs and infuse my spray with them.  Here is a recipe I will be trying.

How to Make Bug Spray From Dried or Fresh Herbs

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Ingredients

  • Distilled water
  • Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
  • Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family.

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Instructions

  1. Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.
  2. Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!)
  3. Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool).
  4. Use as needed. Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin.

There are some other ways to fight them off too.  

  • Use a non-toxic, plastic-free insect-repelling band (I love this one), which is easier to use on children and very effective.
  • Add vanilla extract to either of the above recipes, or just rub on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version.
  • I’m really excited to try these as ideas as we have planted more of them in the garden and yard this year. You can rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, lavendar, catnip, citronella, lemongrass, etc.) Basil is also said to repel mosquitoes and I’ve used fresh basil leaves in the garden with great success before.

And now we can discuss the other options that you can use around your yard or patio so that you can enjoy your evenings outside.

Outdoor plants that are easy to grow and especially easy to place in strategic spots in your yard are lavender, basil, lemongrass, citronella, mint, Lemon thyme, and rosemary.

Other herbs

  • Bay leaves: Repel flies. When you grow this plant, you won’t have to rely on the dried leaves from stores to add flavor to roasts and soups. Just pick the leaves as you need them.
  • Chives: Repel carrot flies, Japanese beetle and aphids.
  • Dill: Repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms.
  • Fennel: Repels aphids, slugs and snails.
  • Lemon balm: Repels mosquitoes.
  • Oregano: Repels many pests and will provide ground cover and humidity for peppers.
  • Parsley: Repels asparagus beetles.
  • Thyme: Repels whiteflies, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, whiteflies, tomato hornworms and small whites.

And some beautiful ornamental flowers that deter as well are……

Mums repel roaches, ants, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, harlequin bugs.

Allium repel slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms. Plants that will benefit from the proximity of alliums include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi and carrots. I’m hoping to see this happen in our garden because we have chives planted in both the herb garden and the vegetable garden.

Petunias repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs. ,

Nasturtiums repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many beetles and cabbage loopers. and marigolds. I will be planting more of these this year to keep the aphids away from my tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage and radishes

Marigolds repels aphids, mosquitoes and even rabbits.

You can even slice citrus like lime and orange and poke whole cloves into it and place them around the table and patio.

And this really cute idea which I will try for sure.  You know I love my mason jars.

And the favorite tiki torch or smoke pot are also a night time favorite.


So, keep those pesky bugs away the natural way and enjoy your summer outdoors.