Natural Insect Repellent

I have had my share of trekking through Indonesian rain forests and Brazilian farms and am far more acquainted with the consortium of global bugs than I’d like to be. It is of course, all part of the experience of traveling- encountering local creatures both cute and creepy. With hot summer months upon us (and for those in the tropics, the heat never goes away), I’m sharing my tried and true methods of staying safe from insects without harsh chemicals.

Making your own natural insect repellents is actually really easy and inexpensive, not to mention more effective than many store bought products. You just need to buy a few basic ingredients one time and it will last you for a couple of summers, depending on how often you are out of doors.

Don’t forget these cardinal rules of being in nature:

  • Dress appropriately for the situation. Most of the time this calls for light but fully covered clothing (i.e. long sleeve shirts, sturdy slacks instead of shorts for maximum protection).
  • Don’t care about looking ridiculous more than about being safe. Wearing slacks that you can tuck firmly in your socks will save your legs from horrible itching, scratches and an abundance of other nasty possibilities. This of course requires good, sturdy socks that won’t slide down.
  • Don’t wear any kind of perfume. That includes scented body lotions and scented hair products. Don’t even shower with scented soaps before heading out. Some insects are very sensitive and will be attracted to the lightest of scents.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large bottle of an oil you’ll use as the base, such as Jojoba or Almond Oil
  • A few small bottles of essential oils including Orange Oil, Lavender Oil, Lemon Oil, Peppermint Oil, Basil Oil and Eucalyptus Oil. You don’t need all of these but a mix of at least 3 of these makes a more potent insect repellent.

The Mix:

For every 1 cup of base oil (Jojoba or Almond), add about 40 drops of a mix of the essential oils and mix well. Apply generously all over your body like a body lotion. The oils listed above are a great repellent for a number of insects including mosquitoes and fleas.  Keep a bottle of the mix with you while traveling.

Have fun and stay safe!