Are there alternatives to toxic bug sprays? Should you be applying those chemicals to your skin? Essential Oils have been used to repel bugs safely for decades. Commercially produced insect repellents should be used with caution on young children and the aging. These are the essential oils to repel bugs naturally for the summer. These essential oils have a history of keeping the bugs away when applied to the skin.
- Oil of lemon Eucalyptus – For protection against mosquitos, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) equally recommends oil of lemon eucalyptus, to synthetic preparations containing DEET, and IR3535 for use on the skin. The CDC found oil of lemon eucalyptus to be more effective than other plant-based treatments. Studies show that products containing 40% oil of lemon eucalyptus was just as effective as products containing high concentrations of DEET. Based upon testing oil of lemon eucalyptus should be re-applied every 4 hours.
Today some sellers have tried to capitalize on technology using ultrasound (inaudible high frequency sounds). Buyer beware these electronic devices have been shown to be ineffective based on studies done by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and many universities.
Regular extensive DEET exposure has been associated with insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function.
- Lavender – it is sweet smelling and it despite that bugs do not like it. Studies suggest that it is only effective when used with other essential oils for mosquitoes, flies and other insects.
- PennyRoyal – be careful with this one. It is a member of the mint family. It is toxic to both mosquitoes and fleas. Unfortunately it is EXTREMELY TOXIC to dogs. This ingredient should be avoided even in shampoos and conditioners with dogs. Dogs that lick on their dry fur after exposure to this oil can die. This has been verified after death by post-mortem chemical examination. Do Not Use PennyRoyal On or Near Your Dog.
- Eucalyptus – In the Journal of Medical Entomology (study of insects), Eucalyptus extract can reduce tick bites and infections. Studies do show that it works to repel flies and mosquitoes. There are unverified reports that it repels dust mites.
- Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca) – It has been applied to the skin for both lice and scabies. It is considered antiseptic for insect bites. Never take or use orally or ingest. Note that in small concentrations (.1% to 1%), tea tree oil is tolerated and safe for cats and dogs. Improper dilutions of this highly concentrated oil can be harmful to pets. Tea Tree Oils are rapidly absorbed into the body whether taken orally or on the skin. This means topical application of concentrated oil can result in the same toxicity as accidental oral ingestion. Tea tree oil repels ticks and fleas it does not kill them. Use caution when using Tea Tree Oil.
- Lemongrass – pleasant citrus scented oil. Most literature discusses its use to repel mosquitoes. When used with Geranium oil it is effective in repelling ticks.
It should be noted that naturally effective bug repellants are often a combination of oils.
Additional safety should be confirmed with appropriate health professionals (providers) before use. Consumers should thoroughly read all associated warnings and safety information with respect to the proper use of any product.