How do you repel bugs naturally? Having a healthy insect population in your garden is a good thing, but when you’re camping you can run into all sorts of nasty things like mosquitoes, flies, spiders, ticks, fleas, ants and mites. If you’re an avid gardener, you might also want to keep the insect population on your beloved plants in check. Pesticides and store-bought insect repellents can contain harmful ingredients, and you might want to opt for a natural way that doesn’t harm you, your family or the bugs in question, but keeps them well at bay.
Here are some of the most effective ways to repel bugs naturally…
Making Survival Bug Repellent
#1: Crushed basil leaves
What’s homemade Italian cooking without some basil? It’s an essential addition to any herb garden – as most chefs will tell you! Fresh, crushed basil leaves placed on a table will repel bugs naturally and keep flies away while you’re eating: This is especially handy for camping trips, picnics or hot days.
#2: A solution of yeast, water and sugar to keep flies away while camping
Yeast is something you should always have in the house. A solution of yeast and sugar – to feed the yeast and attract the bugs – will keep flies away. This is the natural version of the bug-zapper. Just remember to change it out every couple of days – or hours, depending on how big your fly problem is.
#3: Keep flies away while camping with homemade fly strips
There’s no reason you should have to buy fly strips. (If you’ve ever tried getting one down again without sticking hundreds of fly corpses to yourself, you might not want to buy them again….). Boil some sugar water (or water with a bit of honey in it) and add strips of paper. Hang these up, and they will attract flies pretty much just like a fly strip would. Again, change and dispose of these periodically.
#4: Clove essential oil to repel bugs naturally
Flies (and some humans) absolutely hate the scent of clove oil, so if you’re trying to get a handle on a fly problem, get some essential oil to make a spray with and spray in the areas the flies happen to frequent. Keep clove oil as part of your natural arsenal anyway, as it can also be used as a natural and very effective (though temporary) remedy for toothache: If you do not have the oil, bite down on a clove.
#5: Yellow incandescent globes
Yellow light naturally repels bugs (including moths and mosquitoes) at night, so if you have an ongoing problem with either, start by changing your lights – and, it should go without saying, getting a mosquito net to go with your bed. They’re cheaper than getting treated for malaria, or, y’know, being buried.
#6: Burning coffee grounds to repel mosquitoes
Used coffee grounds can be burned – over a fire, like you would incense or dried herbs – to get rid of mosquitoes. If you’re a regular camper, it’s likely that you love the smell of coffee by a campfire, so it doesn’t cost you anything to do this as part of your process anyway.
#7: Rose geranium for ticks
Ticks can carry diseases like tick bite fever, and if you’re going to the woods or African bush you’ll want to check your body regularly. Rose geranium, in an essential oil on the skin (or diluted in a spray), is commonly recommended to get rid of ticks. This works on both man and beast, by the way, so it’s even great for your dogs.
#8: Black pepper for ants
Black pepper, sprinkled where you don’t want ants to go or diluted in a spray, will keep ants in check and away from your food. Of course, don’t leave open food lying around for ants either – get containers that seal, and seal properly. Cayenne pepper works just as well, but you don’t want to get that in your eyes.
#9: Making survival bug repellent out of vinegar
Vinegar is commonly recommended as a repellent for spiders: Diluted, spray it if you don’t want to follow the spiders. Apple cider vinegar (again, diluted in water) will also keep away ticks and fleas on both humans and animals. Keep in mind that cats hate the smell of vinegar (it’s also a cat repellent), so dilute pretty well if you plan on using it on your cats. Internally, it’s given to cats and dogs to treat a bladder infection.
#10: Caffeine for mites
Caffeine is a naturally occurring pesticide, and a weak coffee spray on plants will keep all sorts of pests away, including mites.
Garlic keeps away more than just vampires. You can also increase the amount of garlic in your diet to keep away mosquitoes: they really don’t like the smell of it. (If your camping mates don’t either, chewing on some parsley will neutralize the smell of garlic on your breath after some buttery garlic bread.)
#12: Mint leaves
Mint leaves, fresh and crushed, in an oil or in a spray will keep away mosquitoes – and a range of other bugs including moths. Catnip is technically in the family of mint, and much of the same properties that apply to mint apply to catnip. (For those with heart problems, take care when ingesting mint.)
#13: Lavender for moths
Lavender has been recommended for years as a remedy for calm and aiding sleep, but it turns out that dried lavender pouches work just as well for keeping moths out of your clothes. (This tip comes courtesy of Martha Stewart – the queen of homemaking hacks.)
#14: Citronella for mosquitoes
Citronella candles or oil should always be part of your camping kit as a bug repellent. It’s commonly recommended for mosquitoes, and is a great natural replacement for mosquito coils.
Both sage and rosemary can be burned over a fire to get rid of mosquitoes naturally. (And again, both are great additions to whatever you’ve got cooking on the fire, too!)
What have you used to repel bugs naturally? Use the comments to let us know.