Biting flies, mosquitoes, and tics aren’t just a nuisance. They are a danger.
These bugs carry diseases that cause acute and chronic illnesses.
That’s why today we’re going to discuss which essential oils keep mosquitoes away.
Should you happen to get bit, I’ll suggest the best essential oils for mosquito bites and repellent.
At the end of the article, you’ll discover a couple of homemade repellent recipes, too.
Let’s begin with why bugs bite some people more than others.
- What Makes You a Target for Mosquitoes?
- Which Essential Oils Repel Bugs?
- Why Do Essential Oils Repel Insects?
- Are Essential Oils Safer to Use than DEET?
- Which Are the Best Essential Oils for Mosquito Bites?
- Peppermint Essential Oil with Detailed User’s Guide E-book and Glass Dropper by Essentially KateS.
- Majestic Pure Lavender Oil
- ArtNaturals 100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil
- Radha Beauty Rosemary Essential Oil
- Handcraft Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- NOW Essential Oils, Geranium Oil
- Aura Cacia Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil
- Plant Therapy Thyme Thymol Essential Oil
- Recipe to Soothe Mosquito Bites
- Mosquito Repellent Essential Oil Blends
- doTERRA – TerraShield Essential Oil Outdoor Blend
- Shoo Fly Essential Oil Blend by Plant Guru
- Bug Away Pure Essential Oil Blend by Fabulous Frannie
- 3-Pack Variety of NOW Essential Oils: Mosquito Repellent Blend
- Shabby Chick Natural Insect Repellent
- Nantucket Spider Best Natural Bug Repellent Essential Oil Mosquito Spray
- Artizen Citronella Essential Oil
- Plant Therapy Clove Bud Essential Oil
- Edens Garden Catnip Essential Oil
- Vanilla Oleoresin Essential Oil by Plant Guru
- 12-Pack Amber Glass Essential Oil Bottle Kit
- Recipe for DIY Mosquito Repellent Roll-on
- Recipe for Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray
What Makes You a Target for Mosquitoes?
As you try to protect yourself from bug bites, there are factors you can control and some you can’t.
For example, about 20% of all humans are especially attractive to mosquitoes (1). Some of that’s genetic.
Blood type plays a major role. Type O is delicious, Type B less so, and Type A least of all.
Next, people who exhale more carbon dioxide draw more mosquitoes. The bugs can sense it from more than half a football field away.
Plus, people with higher body temperature, like those who have been exercising and sweating, are easier for mosquitoes to locate. Unfortunately, this applies to pregnant women as well.
Even drinking a beer or wearing dark blue, red, or black clothing makes you easier to spot.
But wearing or diffusing repellent can stack the odds in your favor.
Which Essential Oils Repel Bugs?
There are certain compounds scientifically proven to repel mosquitoes and other bugs.
These include volatile compounds like limonene, citronellol, a-pinene, eucalyptol, and linalool (2).
You can find these compounds in plants like eucalyptus, mint, lavender, thyme, geranium, lemongrass, and more.
There’s just one problem: they are volatile, which means they need to be constantly renewed because they fade quickly.
One way to make the effects last is to use something like petroleum jelly, paraffin, glycerin, or vanillin to provide protection for longer (2).
On the other hand, if you run a diffuser outdoors, that maintains the aroma, too.
Why Do Essential Oils Repel Insects?
The plants from which the oils are derived have a natural ability to defend themselves against insects.
They emit odors that pests recognize as toxic (3).
Thyme, geranium, peppermint, cedar, and clove repel mosquitoes that carry malaria and yellow fever.
Are Essential Oils Safer to Use than DEET?
Many “natural living” sites tout the safety and efficacy of essential oils as bug repellents. But I won’t lie to you here.
DEET has been tested and re-tested many, many times since the 1940s. As long as it’s used in the proper dose, not swallowed, or rubbed into mucous membranes, it’s safe for humans. That includes children and pregnant women (3). (Yes, pregnant women can enjoy the benefits of essential oils.)
Moreover, DEET works well against biting insects.
Unfortunately, the study of plant-based repellents is still in its infancy. As you know, some essential oils can cause skin irritation or make you more sensitive to sunburn.
This said I’m still going to recommend the top essential oils for mosquito bites and repellent. These traditional remedies have value.
Which Are the Best Essential Oils for Mosquito Bites?
Mosquito bites are itchy, and if you scratch them, you can end up with an infection.
That’s why you need essential oils that are antimicrobial and soothe the skin.
Peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, and geranium are good examples (4).
Tea tree acts as an anti-histamine while peppermint cools down the skin and kills off bacteria like staph and E. coli (5).
Now that we’ve gone over the basics let’s look at essential oils to treat bug bites and prevent them in the first place.
Peppermint Essential Oil with Detailed User’s Guide E-book and Glass Dropper by Essentially KateS.
Peppermint essential oil happens to be handy for treating bug bites and preventing them.
It’s a natural repellent for mosquitoes, spiders, and even rodents. Furthermore, it’s antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial.
This large four-ounce bottle will keep you well-supplied for the summer. The company offers a satisfaction guarantee.
Majestic Pure Lavender Oil
Lavender oil calms skin irritation like insect bites. It prevents infection with antibacterial action.
Happily, lavender is also a natural deterrent to mosquitoes.
Majestic Pure provides this blend of steam-distilled Lavandula angustifolia from Bulgaria and Lavandula hybrida from France. It’s packaged with a glass dropper.
ArtNaturals 100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, should never be swallowed. It’s toxic in large amounts. But that’s part of what makes it a good insect repellent.
Plus, it’s antimicrobial to prevent infections and helps speed up healing. Once you apply it (diluted) to your skin, it tingles to stop the itching.
ArtNaturals offers analysis reports of this oil for free on their website.
Radha Beauty Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary repels mosquitoes and promotes healing of mosquito bites.
Try diffusing three drops of rosemary with three drops of peppermint the next time you need to keep bugs away from your grill-out.
Radha Beauty packages the essential oil in cobalt blue bottles with a dropper.
Handcraft Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus can help you breathe a sigh of relief, literally. It’s a decongestant and a bug repellent.
Also, eucalyptus promotes skin healing.
Handcraft bottles their eucalyptus essential oil in amber glass to protect against sunlight. They include a glass dropper.
NOW Essential Oils, Geranium Oil
Geranium oil prevents premature aging of the skin, promotes healing, and keeps the bugs at bay. Additionally, it smells delicious.
NOW is one of the best essential oil brands. They perform extensive testing to ensure purity, and they generally have some of the best prices on the market.
Aura Cacia Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood has a captivating aroma for humans, but it’s not so appetizing to mosquitoes. It’s insecticidal, antiseptic, and anti-spasmodic.
Use cedarwood in a blend with other oils to repel pests with a carrier oil and apply it to treat bites.
Plant Therapy Thyme Thymol Essential Oil
Thymus vulgaris keeps mosquitoes away and also reduces inflammation from mosquito bites. Dilute it to a maximum of 3% concentration with a carrier oil before you put it on your skin. (In other words, no more than three drops of essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.)
If you have questions about Plant Therapy’s thyme essential oil, they have certified aromatherapists on staff.
Recipe to Soothe Mosquito Bites
You’ve got an itchy, swollen bump. Reduce the inflammation and stop the itching with this blend that you can prepare ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.
- ¼ cup of witch hazel (a naturally moisturizing astringent)
- nine drops peppermint essential oil
- six drops lavender essential oil
- three drops tea tree essential oil
Spritz the mixture on the affected spots and let it air dry. Repeat up to three times a day. The swelling, redness, and itchiness should fade quickly.
If you have aloe vera, once your skin is dry, massage the aloe into the spot. Vitamin E oil is also an excellent choice.
Mosquito Repellent Essential Oil Blends
So far, I’ve talked about oils that treat bites and repel insects. Now let’s focus on avoiding bites in the first place.
doTERRA – TerraShield Essential Oil Outdoor Blend
doTerra’s TerraShield repellent doesn’t smell attractive to either bugs or humans, but it works.
It contains a blend of cedarwood, lemon eucalyptus, ylang ylang, catnip, Tamanu seed, Nootka wood, arborvitae, litsea fruit, and vanilla bean absolute in a base of fractionated coconut oil.
Shoo Fly Essential Oil Blend by Plant Guru
Plant Guru includes citronella oil, lemongrass, rosemary, and geranium in their Shoo Fly blend.
Citronella is a traditional mosquito repellent found in candles, oil burners, wearable bracelets, and more. It’s derived from the Cymbopogon winterianus plant and a close relative to lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus).
Apply this blend to your skin by diluting it to 5% concentration – five drops per teaspoon of carrier oil. Or disperse it in the air by making your own candles with it or filling a diffuser.
Bug Away Pure Essential Oil Blend by Fabulous Frannie
Fabulous Frannie created their Bug Away blend from citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, and lemongrass essential oils. These components are all proven to repel mosquitoes.
3-Pack Variety of NOW Essential Oils: Mosquito Repellent Blend
NOW suggests their own recipe for mosquito repellent: in ½ cup of carrier oil, add ten drops of citronella, five drops of grapefruit, and fifteen drops of lemongrass. If you add a tablespoon of glycerin, it binds the oil to the skin and makes the effect lasts longer.
This package includes the three necessary bottles of essential oils.
Shabby Chick Natural Insect Repellent
Shabby Chick covers all the bases with their natural insect repellent. It contains tea tree oil, lemon eucalyptus, catnip, lavender, cedarwood, and palmarosa. As they point out, catnip essential oil can be ten times more effective than DEET for mosquitoes.
This is a product you might’ve seen on the Home Shopping Network. It won an award from the REI Women in Business InnovateHER Challenge.
Nantucket Spider Best Natural Bug Repellent Essential Oil Mosquito Spray
The name is deceiving as it sounds like this is a spider repellent. On the contrary, Nantucket Spider’s bug repellent works against mosquitoes.
It features geranium, cedarwood, rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, spearmint, citronella, and clove oils. In laboratory tests, it was 98% effective against mosquitoes, black flies, biting flies, horse flies, ticks, and more.
It’s ready to use on humans and horses alike. It’s packaged in a spray bottle that emits a fine mist.
Artizen Citronella Essential Oil
Citronella oil is the classic mosquito repellent. It’s packaged here in a generous four-ounce bottle with a glass dropper.
Plant Therapy Clove Bud Essential Oil
Clove Bud essential oil is very potent and absolutely must be diluted before you apply it to the skin. While it will take the sting out of a mosquito bite, it’s best as a repellent.
Edens Garden Catnip Essential Oil
Catnip, a member of the mint family, is the unsung hero among bug repellents. Not only does it transport your cat to a happy place, but the pleasant aroma can also make you relax, too. Just don’t diffuse it while your furry friend is around – the concentrated odor can make them sick.
Vanilla Oleoresin Essential Oil by Plant Guru
Vanilla, oddly enough, boosts the performance of other essential oils that repel insects. It helps them work better for longer. (It’s also an aphrodisiac for people.)
Plant Guru uses solvent extraction to obtain this oil from the Vanilla planifolia plant of India.
12-Pack Amber Glass Essential Oil Bottle Kit
Grab this handy pack of empty amber glass bottles to hold your DIY mosquito repellent. It comes with 16-ounce spray bottles, 2-ounce spray bottles, and roller top containers for roll-ons.
Recipe for DIY Mosquito Repellent Roll-on
Go big, or go home. Keep mosquitoes and other biters away from your picnic with this homemade bug repellent.
The recipe with a carrier oil is appropriate for use on your skin. Or leave out the carrier oil and diffuse just the essential oils. You only need five or six drops of the blend in a diffuser.
- One-quarter cup of fractionated coconut oil
- six drops peppermint
- eight drops lavender
- six drops tea tree
- six drops citronella
- four drops eucalyptus
- four drops geranium
- four drops rosemary
- two drops vanilla
Be sure to shake or stir well before you use it.
Recipe for Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray
I know you’ve been itching to pull out that apple cider vinegar, so now’s your chance. You can use it as a base in this DIY insect repellent spray. (In a pinch, you can also dab apple cider vinegar on your mosquito bites to stop the sting.)
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup vodka OR witch hazel OR rubbing alcohol
- ten drops citronella
- ten drops peppermint
- ten drops thyme OR eucalyptus
- ten drops rosemary
- two drops vanilla
- one drop clove
Shake well before you spray it on clothing or furniture (check for colorfastness first). Don’t apply it directly to the skin, and don’t get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Plan on renewing it at least once an hour.
Prevent and treat insect bites with the best essential oils. Nature’s figured out what works to keep biting insects away.
Fortunately, many of the same oils that repel mosquitoes help heal their bites, too.
If you’ve had experience using essential oils as repellents, let me know what worked for you.
1. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-do-mosquitoes-bite-some-people-more-than-others-10255934/ by Joseph Stromberg, published July 12, 2013, accessed 04 July 2020
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189689/ by Mi Young Lee, published in 02 October 2018, accessed 04 July 2020
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059459/ Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing, by Marta Ferreira Maia, published in Malaria Journal, 15 March 2011, accessed 04 July 2020
4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0367326X06000852 by Zsuzsanna Schelza, et al., published in Fitoterapia Volume 77, Issue 4, June 2006, Pages 279-285, accessed 04 July 2020
5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.05034.x Tea tree oil reduces histamine‐induced skin inflammation, British Journal of Dermatology, by K.J. Koh, published 09 December 2002, accessed 04 July 2020