You don’t have to load up on toxic chemicals to fend off bloodthirsty pests. Natural insect repellents are free of ingredients that can be harmful to humans — and the planet:
- Citronella oil has been around for decades. Derived from a type of grass, it’s available in many forms — including sprays, lotions, towelettes, and candles. Citronella products are most effective against mosquitoes, black flies, fleas, and ticks.
- Catnip contains an essential oil that is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, a strong chemical found in most commercial repellents. Try these recipes for homemade catnip spray and lotion.
- Botanical oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, and lemongrass work moderately well — and are often combined in products with citronella — but you’ll need to reapply them frequently. Test any natural repellent for irritation on a small patch of skin. Decrease your need for bug spray by staying indoors when the pests are most active — from dusk to dawn. Get rid of any sources of standing water; they’re a haven for egg–laying mosquitoes and other biting bugs. And wear protective clothing (long–sleeved shirts and long pants) to prevent the swarms from getting to you in the first place. To defend your face and neck, try a hat with built–in mosquito netting.