The Best Natural Bug Repellent

Summer is the best! Sunshine, friends, barbecues, romantic dinners for two, and all kinds of fun in the sun. Mosquitoes and sunburns and ticks? Less fun. Fortunately, we have essential oils. Making our own natural sunscreen that is highly effective - that lasts through an entire day in the sun, water play, and great for kids - is easier than I thought. And it lasts a while. Check out my favourite tried and true recipe here. If you're like me and DIY is only something you do when you have ample time and inspiration (like, almost never :) check out my friend Holly's amazing, clean sunscreen.

Essential oils also rock as keeping the critters away. From keeping ants out of our home, to ticks off our dogs - and us, and kids - essential oils are all it takes.

I was just chatting with a good friend and fellow oil lover a few days ago, and she was raving about how her golden retriever was the only dog in their dog walking group that has had zero ticks this year, despite it being a really bad season for ticks. She went on to exclaim that 'all of the other dogs get that chemical stuff on them, and they've all had ticks'. I had to agree with her, as the only time my beautiful rescued furbaby had any ticks, was the first year I had her, when I used Advantage from the vet. She had two embedded in her that year.

Since that first year, I've ditched the chemicals in every area of my life, including for our furry companions. I can't say we're diligent about spraying them every time we go out, but despite that, we use oils all over the house every day, and I can't help but wonder if it lingers on their coats, because we've yet to have a single tick this season, despite being out in the forests, tall grass, dog parks, and for lots and lots of walks.

what essential oils repel bugs?

Essential oils are the volatile aromatic compounds that plants manufacture to keep themselves healthy. Within a plant, there are vast arrays of natural chemical compounds the plant makes and uses to keep itself healthy, prevent and heal infections and disease, heal physical damage, and, you guessed it - repel insects. Mother Nature knows her stuff.

So when we extract these essences in the appropriate ways, we are extracting only the purest, most vibrant and potent substances that nature has to offer. As such, we can utilize oils for all of these purposes, including to repel insects. How cool is that? And aside from keepin' the creepy crawlers away, when we use a high quality, therapeutic grade essential oil (do your homework, as there are very few that fall under this category), we are also receiving the therapeutic benefits from the essential oils we've used in our bug blend. Isn't that a much better alternative than exposing ourselves to highly poisonous toxins, when both the natural and synthetic chemicals to the same thing?

The Centre for Disease Control has even cited more than a dozen studies showing the efficacy of different essential oils, both blended and singular.

make a natural bug spray with essential oils

To make your own bug repellant blend, follow this simple guide.


You'll need

  • 2 oz. glass spray bottle (I love the cobalt blue ones)

  • high quality essential oils (I only trust dōTERRA)

  • 20-30 drops total for teen + adult spray (see details below)

  • For kiddos under 13, use 10-15 drops of essential oil, total, in a 2 oz. spray bottle (see details below)

  • Use any combo of these essential oils: eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, cedarwood (yes, it's ok to use them all, just keep with within the recommended drops per bottle)

  • It's highly recommended to use more than 1 kind of essential oil in a Bug Spray Blend. Each plant repels different kinds of insects in it's natural environment, so you're getting more full-spectrum support using a number of different oils

  • fractionated coconut oil (optional)

  • witch hazel (optional)

  • water (if not using the coconut oil)

It is totally fine to make this 'bug blend' without the use of coconut oil or witch hazel. If you have them, great, if they're easy to find, awesome, and if you can't, don't worry about it. Water will work just fine. The only caveat with using water, is you have to shake the bottle well before each use. Oil and water don't mix, so you've got to emulsify them manually (by shaking) each time you want to use the spray.

If DIY is not your thing - and trust me, I don't blame you - you can purchase TerraShield, the highest quality, natural essential oil blend, ready to go in a spray bottle. With a coconut oil base, and an absolutely AH-mazing aroma, this blend nourishes everyone's skin while protecting the entire family from critters. To get this blend at wholesale price instead of retail, click here and follow the steps. It works just like a Costco or Sam's Club card, so great! What I love the most about the TerraShield spray, aside from how incredible it smells + works, is the inclusion of Nootka and Citronella, two oils that can't be purchased from this company individually.


When you're making the spray, follow these guidelines:

FOR KIDS + DOGS *not for use on cats

  • Use a TOTAL of 12 drops of essential oil in a 2 oz. bottle. (Use 24 for a 4 oz. bottle.)

  • Example: If you're using 3 different oils shown above, use 4 drops of each oil.

  • Example: If you're using 6 different oils shown above, use 2 drop of each oil.


  • Use a TOTAL of 24 drops of essential oil in a 2 oz. bottle. (Use 42 for a 4 oz. bottle.)

  • Example: If you're using 3 different oils listed above, use 8 drops of each oil.

  • Example: If you're using 6 different oils listed above, use 4 drops of each oil.

As with any outdoor repellant blend, this needs to be reapplied every so often. Our skin absorbs everything we put on it, so reapplication is always necessary.


  1. Be more liberal in applying the Bug Blend when you're in the deep woods, portaging or outback camping.

  2. Use less when you're sitting around in the backyard, in the garden or at the playground.

  3. Spray lightly on clothing, hair, and shoes. Essential oils won't stain. If you're using coconut oil, avoid any fancy clothing, but generally it will wash out.

If you're looking for a natural spray to keep critters out of your veggie garden, check this out. And, if it's ants in your pants (or your house :) click here for a fab natural ant repellant.

I'd love to hear what your summer tips are for fun in the sun, staying cool, preventing sunburns, and your favourite summer treats! Yum yum.

Mel, xo

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* All statements are my own, not endorsed by any organization or institution.

** Please take care to note: I'm not a health care practitioner. I'm simply sharing the experiences and results I've had on my personal, natural health and healing journey. You should always consult a trusted health care practitioner for advice specific to your body, well being, and needs.

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