Keep the bugs away this summer with these DIY natural insect repellents


With summer comes camping, late night strolls, beaches and bush walks - and you know what they all mean. BUG BITES. Potentially one of the worst things about the warm season, especially the dreaded mosquito.

The good news though is that you don't have to spend a fortune on special insect repellents, or harm your skin with the harsh chemicals. You'll likely have many of these natural repellents lying around the house, so you can prevent nasty bites this summer. 

Crushed lavender flowers produce a fragrance and oil that naturally repel mosquitoes. As well as that, it has analgesic, antifungal and antiseptic qualities which have the bonus effect of calming and soothing the skin. Crush the flowers (which can be found in many yards around the country) and apply with a clean cloth to your skin. Plus it smells great!

Tea Tree Oil
This popular essential oil is known for its antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, but recent studies have also proved it's effectiveness as an insect repellent. Apply it directly to your skin to keep those bugs at bay.

Vanilla Extract
You can make a simple and effective insect repellent at home with just vanilla extract and water. Just make sure it is pure vanilla extract and doesn't contain any sugar or alcohol (this will end up actually attracting insects!). Mix this 1:1 with water, and dab on your skin with a cotton ball. Easy as that!

Fresh or dried mint leaves 
Any leaf in the mint family (peppermint, spearmint, pennyroyal etc.) has been said to act as a natural insect repellent by simply rubbing them directly onto your skin. Basil leaves have also been known to have similar properties, which can be found in most herb gardens. 

Essential Oils
Or if you've got a bit more spare time on your hands, you can even create your own insect spray. Many essential oils have mosquito repellent properties, including citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, geranium, spearmint, thyme and clove oils - you can buy these from any health store around NZ, and use them to make up your own spray. A common recipe that has been proven to work is:

  • 1tsp carrier oil (like coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil or avocado oil)
  • 1tsp vodka
  • 10-20 drops of your chosen essential oils
  • 2tbl purified water

You can shake this up in a spray bottle and spray directly on to your skin. Ouila!

As with all insect repellents though, make sure you reapply all of these frequently to keep the bugs away. Natural remedies are likely to wear off quicker than chemical sprays, so keep this in mind!