Insect Repellent – An Introduction
As summer arrives, so does an array of fascinating creatures: insects. While some insects may be considered pests, it’s important to recognize that many of them play crucial roles in our ecosystems as pollinators, decomposers, and predators of harmful pests.
However, when certain insects become too abundant or pose a threat to our comfort, it’s understandable to seek ways to peacefully coexist. Rather than resorting to chemical-laden repellents and insecticides, nature provides us with a range of plant-based alternatives that effectively repel insects while preserving their beneficial roles. In this blog post, we will explore our top 5 natural insect repellents that can be used in your home, garden, and in some cases, on your skin.
Citronella is perhaps one of the most well-known natural insect repellents and is derived from the Cymbopogon genus of grasses, specifically Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus. These grasses, native to tropical regions, emit a distinct citrus-like fragrance, which insects really do not like.
Citronella essential oil is extracted from the leaves and stems of these grasses through a steam distillation process. The oil contains natural compounds such as citronellal, citronellol, and geraniol, which give it its distinct aroma and insect-repelling properties. When diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, it can be applied topically for effective insect repellent properties. Remember to conduct a patch test before applying essential oils topically.
Citronella incense is available in 15g packs (approximately 12 sticks). It can be burned indoors and outdoors, creating a protective barrier against mosquitoes and other flying pests.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is a perennial herb native to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia. It belongs to the mint family and is cultivated for its fragrant leaves.
Patchouli oil is obtained through steam distillation of the dried leaves. The oil possesses a rich, earthy scent that has not only made it popular in the perfume industry, but also as a natural insect repellent.
Patchouli essential oil, when diffused or added to a carrier oil, can also be used as an insect repellent. Its strong aroma is known to help keep bugs at bay, making it a valuable addition to your insect-fighting arsenal.
Tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia, is an evergreen tree native to Australia. Traditionally used for its antiseptic and medicinal properties, tea tree oil is well-known for its strong, medicinal aroma and its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The leaves of this tree are steam distilled to extract tea tree essential oil which, as well as the above medicinal properties, is also effective in repelling insects. The potent scent of tea tree oil acts as a natural deterrent for mosquitoes, flies, and ants. Simply dilute a few drops of tea tree essential oil in water and use it as a spray to protect yourself and your surroundings from unwanted pests. As with all essential oils, remember to do a patch test before using it for the first time to ensure your skin isn’t sensitive to it.
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is a hybrid mint plant, a cross between watermint and spearmint. It is known for its refreshing aroma and cooling sensation.
Peppermint essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the plant’s leaves. Apart from its digestive benefits and use as a natural remedy for headaches and respiratory issues, peppermint oil also acts as a potent insect repellent.
The refreshing aroma of peppermint is loved by many, but insects find it repulsive. Peppermint essential oil works wonders in keeping bugs away, especially spiders and ants. Create a homemade bug spray by combining peppermint oil with water and a few drops of liquid soap. Shake well and spray it around doorways, windows, and other entry points to keep insects from entering your home.
Geraniums belong to the Pelargonium genus, which includes a variety of flowering plants.
Different species of geranium, such as Pelargonium graveolens or Pelargonium capitatum, are used to extract geranium essential oil. The oil is commonly obtained through steam distillation of the plant’s leaves and flowers. Geranium oil has a delightful floral scent and is believed to possess calming and balancing properties, making it a popular choice in aromatherapy. Its insect-repelling abilities add to its overall appeal.
Geranium essential oil, when diluted with a carrier oil, can be applied to the skin to provide protection against insects (do the patch test first). Its fragrant aroma will help keep bugs away, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities without the constant buzzing and biting.
Geranium incense is made using the leaves and flowers of species like Pelargonium graveolens or Pelargonium capitatum. The resulting aroma not only delights the senses, but also repels mosquitoes and other flying pests. With its delightful floral scent, geranium incense is not only pleasing to the senses but also a potent insect repellent, helping to keep mosquitoes and other flying pests at bay.
When it comes to repelling insects naturally, citronella, patchouli, tea tree, peppermint, and geranium are excellent choices. Whether you prefer the smoke of incense or the convenience of essential oils, these plant-based solutions offer a safer and eco-friendly alternative to chemical-laden repellents. Embrace the power of nature and enjoy bug-free summer