Mosquito Crossing Sign

Natural Insect Repellents

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For years insect repellents containing the active ingredient DEET were the only product available that actually worked well to keep mosquitoes, gnats and other pesky insects away. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) DEET is considered safe and does not present a health concern when used properly. However, many people feel uncomfortable using what is perceived to be such a toxic chemical on their skin, even for a short period of time.

Although oil of citronella has been used as an insect repellent since the late 1940s, it was not widely available in commercial products such as sprays or lotions until fairly recently. There are currently several insect repellents containing citronella on the market including Natrapel and Herbal Armor, which contain 10 and 12% citronella respectively.

Citronella candles are fairly effective at repelling mosquitoes without having to douse your entire body with insect repellent, but you need to surround your self with a large grouping of candles both on the ground and up high--so plan accordingly.

Eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and rosemary are essential oils that are also effective in repelling mosquitos. Never apply essential oils directly to the skin; instead add a few drops to some jojoba oil, which doesn't leave an oily residue on the skin.

Learn how to make your own insect repellents here.

In order to be as effective as DEET, the concentrations of essential oils need to be much higher. In addition, products that use essential oils for protection from insects do not last as long and must be reapplied frequently-sometimes as often as every 15 minutes!

Bite Blocker

Bite Blocker is a popular and highly effective natural insect repellent that has been on the market for nearly ten years. The active ingredients in Bite Blocker are geranium oil and soybean oil in a water, coconut oil, and glycerin base. According to the package label, scientific studies have proven it more effective in repelling mosquitoes and black flies than a 7% concentration of DEET, provided it is reapplied every two hours.


Skedattle is the most recent natural insect repellent to arrive on the scene. Like Bite Blocker, it is a water-based formula so it is non-greasy. Active ingredients include essential oils of peppermint, lemongrass and citronella. Fishermen swear by it and informal lab studies have shown it to be more effective against mosquitoes than some insect repellents containing DEET.

Bug Ban

The Bug Ban, a simple wristband made of recycled plastic permeated with essential oils of citronella, geranium, and lemongrass is a new product that is scheduled to begin selling in stores soon. It is purported to keep insects away for up to 48 hours.

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