Mother Nature has provided us many wonderful gifts and one of the most miraculous is found in the magic of pure essential oils.  Medicine, deodorizers, aromatherapy, insect repellents, cooking, pet health, pest resistance, mood enhancers, cleansing agents, and so much more.  This post will touch upon pure essential oils use as an insect and arachnid repellent.

I’m not a fan of bugs.  Any kind of bug.  Mice don’t freak me out (I’ve played with little white mice) and I can handle snakes (I’ve had a 4’ baby Boa over my shoulders) but there’s something about bugs.

Still, I don’t like to kill them.  I’d like to relocate them but I lack the fortitude.  (My sister and her husband live in Miami where there are lizards -still OK with me- and spiders.  All kinds of spiders.  They pick them up carefully and place them outside their screened in pool on a tree branch, or the grass, etc.)  I have to admit some of them are beautiful.  Some species of spiders are absolutely stunning but being attractive or unique doesn’t encourage me to fondle one.

However, if I’m camping, I’m in THEIR domain and I have an entirely different mindset.  They are supposed to be in the woods, on picnic tables, etc.  I’m the one out of place in that environment.  So, I bravely brush them away from the tent “door,” or off my jacket or out of my hair.   I might shudder a bit but I get over it.

They’re not welcome in my house.  My husband can detect the tone in my voice when I call his name if there is a bug to be dealt with & he is too kind to yell back “kill it yourself.” But he knows. He will not relocate them the way I’d like him to.   He is willing to relocate them into the next dimension but not out the back door.

So, I use essential oils or I create blends to deal with the little creatures.  I want to deter them to live a long, fruitful life – preferably outside my home.

Although I’d heard of essential oils and understood their use in perfumes many years before, it wasn’t until 1998 when I bought Valerie Ann Worwood’s “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” that I truly embraced this alternative healing modality.  Worwood has a number of other excellent books available through online and brick and mortar stores.  I have since read The Fragrant Mind and books by other authors on Aromatherapy.

There are many popular brands of pure essential oils and even more companies that have created their own blends.  One resource I like is AromaWeb.  While very informative with excellent articles, they understandably encourage readers to patronize their advertisers.  I like to do my own research and usually make my own blends using various brands I believe to be of high quality.

Now, back to the bugs.

Keep in mind that essential oils are concentrated extracts of flowers, plants, herbs, and fruits that have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.   Scientific research supports their usefulness as natural remedies, and they leave no toxins in the body, unlike chemicals.   They should be used with some awareness and the realization that their essences can have a definitive effect on humans and animals around you.  For example, I love lemon but my cat won’t come near me when I’m using lemon essential oil or scented products.  Her reaction to the scent is one of indignation.  Like I’m trying to deter her.

Most everyone knows that mosquitos (for whom I have zero sympathy and will kill mercilessly) dislike Citronella oil.  It can be effective if it’s possible to keep potent enough outdoors.  Other mosquito-repellent essential oils include Lavender, Pennyroyal, Lemongrass and Tansy.

Small ants (unfortunately, not Carpenter Ants) dislike Peppermint, Spearmint, Garlic and Pennyroyal.  Flies are repelled by Lavender, Tansy, Rue, Peppermint and Tagetes.  Deter fleas with Lemongrass, Citronella, Pennyroyal, Tansy and Lavender.  Gnats don’t like Tagetes, Spearmint, Citronella or Patchouli.  I deter most spiders with Lavender.

One insect deterrent blend Worwood writes of is this:

Thyme           4 drops

Lemongrass 8 drops

Lavender      4 drops

Peppermint 4 drops

essential oils
© William McKelvie iStock

More is not better when it comes to essential oils.   You can certainly create a large batch using this recipe but keep to the proportions shown.  I’ve used the little cotton pads that are typically sold alongside essential oils in a retail store.  I often cut them into smaller squares and place near windowsills.  I’ve used strips of cloth on which I’ve placed a neat drop of lavender near the patio door and you can use cotton balls.  (We used to have little ants show up in rainy weather.  They’d come marching through the electrical outlet near the kitchen windowsill.  I’d put a drop of Peppermint essential oil – not the cooking kind- on each end of a Q-Tip and leave the Q-tip on the sill.  It always worked.)

Some oils are dangerous; some should be used only with a carrier oil (not neat – direct on skin) but with almond or jojoba oil.  There are other carrier oils, too.

Do your due diligence to learn about the oils you intend to use in order to keep you, your family, and your pets safe.   Essential oils and aromatherapy open up a world of alternative uses, safely replacing chemical cleaning agents, skincare and cosmetic products and offering alternative holistic health treatments.  This doesn’t even go into the mood elevators, sensual scents, etc.

And now the disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace diagnosis by a qualified medical practitioner.  No express or implied guarantee regarding their use can be given nor is the author liable.