This herbal bug spray recipe takes two steps to make, but is worth the effort. Chaste berries, neem, lavender, rosemary, and geranium have shown insect repelling activity in the research listed below.
Herbal Bug Spray Recipe
Step 1: Recipe for the Herbal Bug Spray Tincture
- 1 ounce of dried chaste berries
- 1 pint of Vodka or Everclear (at least 75% alcohol)
- Large glass jar
- Tincture Instructions: Mix the two ingredients in a large glass jar. Shake a few times a day for two weeks, setting by the sun during the day. Strain all plant parts from the alcohol using cheesecloth or a coffee filter. The remaining alcohol is the tincture.
Step 2: Herbal Bug Spray Recipe
- 1/2 cup of tincture (above)
- 1/2 cup of sunflower oil
- 1/4 tsp of Neem leaf oil OR 15 drops of citronella EO
- 15 drops of lavender EO
- 15 drops of rosemary EO
- 15 drops of geranium EO
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a clean blender. Put into an amber glass spray bottle. Shake and spray on skin or dog fur at least every six hours, or as needed. Discontinue use if irritation occurs.
HERBAL BUG SPRAY RESEARCH
- Vitex agnus castus (chaste) was used as an effective six hour spray to keep away ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies and fleas. From: Mehlhorn, H., Schmahl, G., & Schmidt, J. (2005). Extract of the seeds of the plant Vitex agnus castus proven to be highly efficacious with repellent against ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and biting flies. Parasitology research, 95(5), 363-365.
- Vitex trifolia and three other Vitex species showed larvicidal activity against the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus. From: Kannathasan, K., Senthilkumar, A., Chandrasekaran, M., & Venkatesalu, V. (2007). Differential larvicidal efficacy of four species of Vitex against Culex quinquefasciatus larvae. Parasitology research, 101(6), 1721-1723.
- Local techniques for repelling mosquitoes were discussed. From: Pavela, R., & Benelli, G. (2016). Ethnobotanical knowledge on botanical repellents employed in the African region against mosquito vectors–a review. Experimental parasitology, 167, 103-108.
- This was a review of neem ant its azadirachtin constituent and its repelling and insecticidal actions. From: Chaudhary, S., Kanwar, R. K., Sehgal, A., Cahill, D. M., Barrow, C. J., Sehgal, R., & Kanwar, J. R. (2017). Progress on Azadirachta indica based biopesticides in replacing synthetic toxic pesticides. Frontiers in plant science, 8, 610.
- Apium graveolens (celery), Citrus sinensis (orange), Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus), Juniperus oxycedrus (juniper), Laurus nobilis (bay), Lavandula hybrida (lavender), Mentha microphylla (mint), Mentha viridis (spearmint), Ocimum basilicum (basil), Origanum vulgare (oregano), Pistacia terebinthus (turpentine tree), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), and Thuja orientalis (thuja) were effective insect repellents against Acanthoscelides obtectus. From: Papachristos, D. P., & Stamopoulos, D. C. (2002). Repellent, toxic and reproduction inhibitory effects of essential oil vapours on Acanthoscelides obtectus (Say)(Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Journal of Stored Products Research, 38(2), 117-128.
- Lavendula stoechas (lavender), Helichrysum italicum and Laurus nobilis (bay) oils reduced attractivity of yellow fever mosquitoes with promising results from Calamintha nepeta (calamint), and Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary). From: Drapeau, J., Fröhler, C., Touraud, D., Kröckel, U., Geier, M., Rose, A., & Kunz, W. (2009). Repellent studies with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and human olfactory tests on 19 essential oils from Corsica, France. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 24(4), 160-169.
- Achillea millefolium, Lavandula angustifolia, Helichrysum italicum, Foeniculum vulgare, Myrtus communis, and Rosmarinus officinalis showed insecticidal activity against a mosquito species. Conti, B., Canale, A., Bertoli, A., Gozzini, F., & Pistelli, L. (2010). Essential oil composition and larvicidal activity of six Mediterranean aromatic plants against the mosquito Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae). Parasitology research, 107(6), 1455-1461.
- Tea tree and lavender were effective against a wide range of mites, lemon was effective against some mites, but not lice. From: Williamson, E. M., Priestley, C. M., & Burgess, I. F. (2007). An investigation and comparison of the bioactivity of selected essential oils on human lice and house dust mites. Fitoterapia, 78(7), 521-525.
- Essential oils of Eucalyptus globulus, Lavender officinalis, Rosemarinus officinalis, and Thymus vulgaris showed repellent activities against the mosquito: Culex pipiens pallens. Thyme was the strongest and constituents that were effective included alpha-terpinene, thymol, p-cymene, carvacrol, and linalool. From: Choi, W. S., Park, B. S., Ku, S. K., & Lee, S. E. (2002). Repellent activities of essential oils and monoterpenes against Culex pipiens pallens. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 18(4), 348-351.
- Against three mosquito species, Juniperus macropoda (Juniper) and Pimpinella anisum (Anise) were highly effective as both larvicidal and ovicidal. Zingiber officinale (ginger) and Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) were found to be ovicidal and repellent. Cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) resulted into highest repellent values. From: Prajapati, V., Tripathi, A. K., Aggarwal, K. K., & Khanuja, S. P. S. (2005). Insecticidal, repellent and oviposition-deterrent activity of selected essential oils against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus. Bioresource Technology, 96(16), 1749-1757.
- Against the yellow fever mosquito, pulegone, thymol, eugenol, trans-anithole, rosemary oil and citronellal showed high larvicidal activity. Eugenol, citronellal, thymol, pulegone, rosemary oil and cymene showed oviposition deterrent and/or repellent activities. From: Waliwitiya, R., Kennedy, C. J., & Lowenberger, C. A. (2009). Larvicidal and oviposition‐altering activity of monoterpenoids, trans‐anithole and rosemary oil to the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest management science, 65(3), 241-248.
- Essential oils from Cymbopogan citrates (lemongrass), Cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), and Zingiber officinale (ginger) showed promising larvicidal and repellent agent against the mosquitos: C. tritaeniorhynchus and A. subpictus. From: Govindarajan, M. (2011). Larvicidal and repellent properties of some essential oils against Culex tritaeniorhynchus Giles and Anopheles subpictus Grassi (Diptera: Culicidae). Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine, 4(2), 106-111.
- Eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, and mint showed varying degrees of repellency against the bloodsucking bug Rhodnius prolixus Stahl. The knockdown time of nymphs in minutes by constituents was 117.2 (eucalyptol), 408.7 (linalool), 474.0 (menthone), and 484.2 (limonene). While the repellent effect was quite lesser than that of deet, eucalyptol was 3.5 times less toxic. From: Sfara, V., Zerba, E. N., & Alzogaray, R. A. (2009). Fumigant insecticidal activity and repellent effect of five essential oils and seven monoterpenes on first-instar nymphs of Rhodnius prolixus. Journal of medical entomology, 46(3), 511-515.
- Geranium treated bed nets repelled malaria causing mosquitos. From: Alipour, H., Mahdian, S. M. A., Rami, A., Abad, M. O. K., Amin, M., & Dinparast, N. (2015). Excito-repellency effects of Pelargonium roseum wild (Geraniaceae) essential oil-treated bed nets on the malaria mosquito, Anopheles stephensi Liston, 1901 (Diptera: Culicidae).
- Constituents of geranium oil demonstrated safe repelling action against the mosquito associated with the West Nile virus. From: Tabari, M. A., Youssefi, M. R., Esfandiari, A., & Benelli, G. (2017). Toxicity of β-citronellol, geraniol and linalool from Pelargonium roseum essential oil against the West Nile and filariasis vector Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae). Research in veterinary science, 114, 36-40.
- The US EPA considers oil of citronella as biopesticidal with non-toxic effects. From: The EPA Citronella Fact Sheet, 2014.
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, Registered Aromatherapist, LMT
This categorized compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use. These statements are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. The information at this page has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Consult a Doctor before using herbs and essential oils if you have medical conditions, are taking medications, or have questions.