Spray Bugs Off

Bug Off! Tips & Tricks for Do it Yourself Pest Control

With summer days not far off, we’re already dreaming about firing up the grill and toasting those warm nights. And this year, we have a plan – a bug plan. Armed with these DIY sprays, natural repellents and ingenious little tips, we’re looking forward to beers, barbeques and a bug-free few months.

DIY Bug Spray

The mosquitos may come out at dusk, but there are plenty of other bugs that lurk during the day. Forget the conventional (and probably toxic) bug spray from the store – go with a natural, homemade version that’s just as effective without the crazy chemicals. Whip up your own version – just mix and match a few of the following essential oils with a carrier oil, combine in a glass bottle with a spray top, and voilà!

The basic recipe: You’ll want roughly one part essential oil to ten parts carrier oil, which is included to keep this DIY recipe from getting too pricey. Choose a few essential oils – whichever scents you enjoy together – and combine with whatever carrier oil you have on hand.

DIY Best Spray

A few notes: use a dark glass bottle to preserve the integrity of the oils, which are available for purchase online and at health food stores. Shake the bottle well before spraying, and reapply after swimming or sweating.

Essential Oils

  • Citronella
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Patchouli
  • Cedarwood

Carrier Oils

  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Witch hazel

A pair of tried and true favorites!

Citrus & Herb: Combine six tablespoons witch hazel with 30 drops of citronella oil and 20 drops each of lemon and rosemary oils.

Minty Lavender: Combine six tablespoons witch hazel with 50 drops of peppermint and 20 drops of lavender.

Ticks can also suck the fun out of your day.

Try making a natural repellant with this recipe:

  • 2 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 oz. Water
  • 20-40 drops of either geranium bourbon essential oil, citronella essential oil, lemon eucalyptus oil or catnip essential oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Glycerin (optional, helps the scent last longer!)

DIY Bug Repellent Candles

These homemade candles look and smell amazing – unless you’re a bug. Collect some jars and a few floating candles, gather your kitchen scraps and follow this simple tutorial for DIY bug repellent candles to decorate your outdoor space and keep those bugs at bay.

DIY Candle Pest Repellent

image via Adventures in Making

You’ll Need:

  • A collection of glass jars or containers and some floating candles (look for rosemary, citrus, citronella or vanilla scents) – hit up the dollar store!
  • Citrus peels or slices – lemons, limes and oranges – cuts of fresh herbs like rosemary, mint and oregano and seasonings like cinnamon sticks or cloves
  • Citronella essential oil


  • Fill your jars and containers with the citrus rinds or slices, herbs and seasonings. Don’t go crazy – you’re going for aesthetics as well as function here.
  • Add 20 to 30 drops of the citronella essential oil first, then fill with hot water to wake up all those flavors in your jars.
  • Let everything cool, and then add your floating candle.
  • Take everything outside and arrange it on your table or around the patio.

Tip: These bug-repelling candles look and work best when you have quite a few. Mix and match jars and containers in different sizes for clustered groupings that as pretty as they are functional.

Bug Repelling Plants

If you’re not the DIY type, fear not. Throw a few plants on the patio or in the garden, and let Mother Nature do the rest.

Lavender Flower


It’s pretty and purple – and mosquitos don’t like it. Lavender is exceptionally simple to grow in the garden or in pots on the patio. Just make sure it’s in the sun. Try cut or dried lavender bunches in the windowsill to keep mosquitos and gnats from coming in.
Tip: Pair lavender with citronella grass around outdoor seating areas for a one-two punch.


Citronella Grass

It’s the main ingredient behind our DIY candles, so you know citronella grass is the real deal. Beware: this ornamental grass with its trademark lemony scent doesn’t do frost. Stick to pots if you don’t live somewhere warm year-round. Otherwise, plant it in a sunny spot and let it grow.



This woodsy herb will serve you in the kitchen and on the patio this summer. Rosemary does best in hot, dry parts of the country, and it’s a great choice for pots or as a border plant.



The pungent scent of this prized pizza-topping herb is another natural repellent. Throw some basil in pots on the patio – just make sure they have good drainage, plenty of sun and lots of water – or plant them to your garden.

Bug Repelling Tricks

So you’re doused in the DIY bug spray, you’ve made the candles and your patio is blooming with lavender and basil. Add a few of these bug-repelling tricks just to be safe, and enjoy your summer!

Tiki Torch
  • Throw some rosemary stalks right onto the barbeque coals or in the fire pit – they’ll give off a ferocious mosquito-repelling aroma.
  • Dab a bit of lavender oil on the corners of your seat or table. Not only will it smell heavenly, it’s an extra level of protection.
  • Add a few tiki torches to your landscaping, or light the fire pit if you have one. The heat and smoke will drive those pesky bugs away.

DIY Remedies: For When You Do Get Bit

If and when you do get bit or stung, you don’t have to sit around and suffer. Try these natural remedies for itching, swelling and more.

  • Soak an area with stings and bites with apple cider vinegar. Then, dip a cotton ball in vinegar and take it to the sting to help relieve redness and swelling.
  • Lemon and lime both have anti-itch and antibacterial agents (just don’t apply to your skin outside as blistering can occur when exposed to sunlight!).
  • Cucumbers can help reduce swelling.
  • Raw honey has anti-microbial properties that can help prevent infection and can be applied directly to the bite.
  • The natural tannins in tea act as an astringent and can lessen discomfort. Apply a tea bag to a bite until the itching goes away.