A Harmless Repellent: 8 Natural Ways to Keep Insects at Bay

As summer approaches and the nights get longer, we are all itching to enjoy the great outdoors and get back into eating outside, hiking at the weekends, and lounging around by the pool or at the beach. But summer also brings hordes of biting insects looking to feast on our blood and cause itchiness and discomfort.

There are plenty of chemicals developed to keep insects at bay, but many have unwanted side effects. DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) is widely touted as the solution to insect problems. However, recent research has indicated that it can damage human braincells and has a negative interaction with other medication. These chemicals get absorbed into your bloodstream through permeable cells in your skin and can cause significant damage.

Instead, people are looking for natural, safe ways to keep insects at bay. These 8 natural ingredients can get insects to keep their distance and can be applied directly to the skin, or through space and scent diffuser to keep your entire home free from unwanted guests. Look here for more information.


Besides cats, catnip has a strong effect on mosquitos and other critters. The scent is so repellent to insects that research has indicated catnip could be up to ten times more effective than DEET at keeping mosquitoes away.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved eucalyptus oil as an ingredient in commercial mosquito repellents for its effectiveness at keeping bugs away. Adding a touch of lemon to the scent makes the oil more effective and longer-lasting.

Diatomaceous Earth

Widely available in the earth’s crust, diatomaceous earth is simply fossilized algae that have hardened and become part of the sedimentary rock that makes up the surface of our planet. It absorbs lipids, which are found in insects’ exoskeletons, leaving the insect fatally dehydrated. It can be used on foliage to prevent critters eating your flowers and garden, on beds to quell a bedbug problem, or around the home to get rid of snails and slugs.


Citronella, in its purest form, can be applied to the skin as a mild mosquito repellent. While it may not be as potent as other forms of insect repellent on this list, the fact it is widely available and its ability to be applied as a topical cream earn it its place.


 In addition to providing a soothing smell and its antiseptic qualities, lavender, when applied to the skin, also makes for a good mosquito repellent. A study carried out on adult mice found it is effective at preventing mosquito bites.

Garlic Spray

Garlic-infused water makes for a good insect repellent. It can be liberally applied to plants to remove an insect infestation.

Organic Soy Oil

The benefits of soy oil are still being discovered, but so far it has proven to be a reliable moisturizer, can slow body hair growth, and now, will deter insects. Be sure to go for soy oil that is specifically labelled as organic. Many soy crops undergo genetic modification.

Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon oil is a natural insecticide that kills off mosquito eggs and prevents mosquitoes biting. It is particularly effective against larger tiger mosquitoes.

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