Eco-Friendly Bug Repellent

The summer heat and humidity tend to attract more bugs. While this may be a nice way to get to know our friendly critters, there may be times when you don’t want them around like an afternoon picnic or morning hike. Or, maybe the bugs are eating too many leaves and vegetables in your garden.

Like any of our other life choices, we must be more conscious of the impact we have on the environment and adopt more eco-friendly practices like avoiding harmful chemical pesticides. Some commercial insect repellents contain DEET, a toxic chemical that can cause unpleasant side effects including rashes, redness, and swelling when applied to the skin. Although DEET is very effective at keeping the bugs away, it may also be dangerous to pets.

Here are a few alternatives to store-bought bug repellents that you can try in different areas of your lifestyle.

Bug Spray

  • Spray bottle
  • Witch hazel
  • Water
  • Essential oil: tea tree, lemon, peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, clove, lavender, lemongrass (any of these oils or a combination of them will work)

Mix equal parts of the water and witch hazel and fill the spray bottle. Add a few drops of the oil and it’s ready for use.


If you are using the grill, toss a few sprigs of sage and rosemary on the grill while you’re cooking. The scents of these herbs should deter the bugs.


Another way to deter bugs is to burn citronella candles. Try looking for bee wax-based candles with wooden wicks as they leave a smaller carbon footprint. Also, be sure to check out this article for tips on how to extend the lifespan of candles.



Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022

Image Emily Su, Class of 2022


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