Practical Skills: Insects and How You Can Keep Them Away

Now that you know how to make essential oils, there are many other things you can make that require these oils. One of those things is insect repellent. It is summer time now. Time for mosquitoes, time for yellow jackets, time for ticks. Basically, it's time for bugs! Who wouldn't want to know how to keep them away without the use of deet?

There are quite a few plants that help to keep the bugs away. Some of those are lemon balm (citronella), eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint. To make a bug repellent mixture, you'll want to choose which plants you wish to have, make an essential oil out of them, and then mix them together with olive oil. Generally it is about 25 drops of the essential oil combined with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and you have yourself a bug repellent mixture.

Some of the best mixtures are rose geranium with bay and eucalyptus for the repellent focusing mostly on keeping ticks away. For the distancing of mosquitoes, make sure you have your lemon balm as well as thyme and lavender.

Of course, for a bug repellent that is sure to keep all the bugs away, combine a bunch of these different plants together to make a bug repellent that is unique. Remember, it is not an exact science and as always, essential oil mixtures are for topical use only!

– Miranda Vivian



  1. Janene said,

    June 4, 2006 at 9:08 am

    Hey —

    Do you know when its best to harvest lemon balm… and how best to prepare it?

    For medicinal use, I know it should be harvested before flowering… which means I already missed it for this year. I’m just wondering if the same is necessarily true for aromatics…


  2. Aftermath said,

    June 4, 2006 at 9:40 am

    To get the most lemony freshness out of it, right before it flowers is best, yes, though it can still be used after flowering.
    I know for the bug repellent, the lemon balm leaves need to be dried, hung in a bag in a dry, cool, dark place. We’ve been drying all our herbs in the oven for times sake though, and you would have to keep a pretty close eye on it, not increasing the temp. over 150 degrees and keeping the oven door opened. For the medicinal properties though (mild sedative, antibacterial, antiviral), I would use the leaves in tea. I’m sort of partial to that method, but that’s just me.

    – Miranda Vivian

  3. Janene said,

    June 4, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Hey —

    I was bored, so I started researching it myself…

    From what I am seeing, it looks like the prefered method for extracting the essential oil is steam distillation. Buying a rig would run into the hudnreds of dollars, but I’m thing a trip to my local science surplus store, we may be able to build one pretty cheaply.

    They also suggest harvesting the lemon balm before flowering in the spring… and a second harvest in late summer (assuming mature plants.) With that, maybe I can get a rig set up by August and give it a try…and I think I will try distilling it fresh as the oils decrease with drying…


  4. Aftermath said,

    June 4, 2006 at 10:18 am

    Oh the preferrred method is always distillation to get essential oils. I didn’t really want to explain that method before I actually did it myself, which is why I talked of the cheapo, easy method! =)

    – Miranda Vivian

  5. June 24, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    […] Mint is also a common one you might hear about. There are over 50 species of mint and all can interbreed with one another. All may be used as insect repellent, as well as a stomach soother and taken for mild fevers (as a tea is best). You may also use heavy doses for headaches and menstrual pains. You may also use the leaves as a wash for muscle aches and sores. Note: A wash is when you boil the plant down and then apply topically, sort of like a tea for your skin. To help stabilize blood sugar, for diabetics and those with hypoglycemia in particular (though good for anybody), adding mint leaves to your water in the morning and drinking mint water throughout the day will help. […]

  6. Rix said,

    February 17, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Whenever I’m out in the field and realize that I need something to keep mosquitoes or flies off, I use wild onion or sassafras. Just crush the leaves and rub it on your skin. It’s probably not as effective as the essential oil methods you shared, but they’re both easy to find in my area and handy in a pinch. Apply liberally and often for maximum effectiveness.

    I’ve heard that farmers used to use sassafras wood in making chicken roosts to keep ticks off their birds. I usually just use the leaves, stuffing a few into my pockets, socks and under my hat.

    I’ve also heard that sulphurous water when drunken regularly will cause your body odor to be offensive to all bugs. I grew up near Heber Springs, Arkansas, and the springs for which the town was named were very sulphurous. The locals would swear by the water. (They also said it would cure myopia, though I never found that to be true.)

  7. February 3, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Dear Miranda,
    I like this blog. it’s very nice to read. Actually I have an ample of mint leave. Do you have any info how to make essential oil by this leaves,

    Bali :)

  8. Aftermath said,

    February 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Sorry for the long delay! tells how to make essential oils the easy way. You can certainly make essential oil out of mint with this!

    – Miranda Vivian

  9. Karli said,

    April 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    does it matter what type of rose you use for the tick reppellant?

  10. Kali Kale said,

    June 24, 2012 at 10:22 am

    You’ve left out a VERY common plant! The American Beauty Bush, also known as Flea Bane. They are currently testing it as it ‘appears’ to be better than Deet! I say ‘appears’ as when anything having to do with Big Pharma, they NEVER say it “IS.”

  11. Emma Brennan said,

    August 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    What about Cedar… is the oil sunsoak sufficient? ,,, and/or does the hydrosol also transform within the jar/oil?

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