Natural Insect Repellants

Posted on Aug 19, 2013 in Green Tip

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like wherever I go, mosquitoes are out in full force. I’ve been going through a lot of bug spray, which got me thinking… Are there any natural insect repellants? The bug sprays on the market – including ones with DEET – have been deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, at least when used as directed. But if you want to limit your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals, thankfully, there are some natural bug killers that can keep insects off you, your kids, your pets, and your garden.

A 2002 study of mosquito repellents found that the soy-based products were the most effective natural alternative to DEET. This natural bug repellent offered more than 90 minutes of protection.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus, which comes from the lemon eucalyptus tree, is also recommended by the CDC as another alternative to DEET. Several studies have found this natural bug repellent to be as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes. It may also work well against ticks. That said, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on kids under 3.

Finally, aside from wearing long sleeves and pants, which isn’t always practical in the summer, there are other methods of keeping bugs away. For instance, set up a fan on your patio. Mosquitoes have a hard time maneuvering in wind. Also, make sure you eliminate standing water in your yard as that is breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Contributed by Brooke Lehenbauer, Public Awareness & Volunteer Coordinator