10 Natural Bug Repellents

There are many plants and herbs in Mother Earth's aresenal that repel bugs.  Here are some of our favorites! All of these plants are amazing options for all-natural bug repellents.  All of these plants, aside from the garlic, can be planted in and around your yard to keep the insects further away from your home. If you have the plants growing all over your yard then it’s a guarantee that you’ll have some to harvest for making the bug spray recipe we've included, too. All of these plants, herbs, and their essential oils are super beneficial to us. Mosquitoes, ticks, and other blood-sucking insects can carry all sorts of terrible diseases and illnesses—in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry and do what you can to limit your exposure to these bugs.  Start with these natural bug repellents!


1. Mountain Mint

Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), also known as short-toothed mountain mint, is full of a chemical compound called pulegone. The essential oils produced from the plant make an incredible bug repellent. You can also use the leaves for a delicious spearmint-flavored tea, just like many of the plants in the mint family. Mountain mint can keep fleas, ticks, and mosquitos at bay.


2. Beautyberry Bush

American beautyberry bush (Callicarpa americana) has been a well-known folk remedy for centuries. It has the potential to keep mosquitoes, deer flies, ticks, and horseflies from causing a nuisance. The leaves contain compounds that keep biting bugs from digging in.


3. Sweetgrass

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odoratais) is an incredible medicine in so many ways. The aroma is sweet-scented and calming—for us, that is! Bugs, especially the blood-sucking kind, don’t really like strong aromatic scents. The chemical compounds phytol and coumarin are safer and just as effective as DEET, the not-so-safe chemical bug spray.


4. Rosemary

This isn’t the first or last time you’ll see rosemary (Rosemary officinalis) listed on Mother Earth’s Medicine Cabinet. Rosemary oil is incredible for so many things, one being a natural bug repellent. You can simply bruise the fresh leaves and rub them onto your skin or you can make a bug spray (keep reading for directions!).


5. Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens), also known as the herb-of-grace, is a very potent bug repellent. It is best used in combination with wormwood but it can be used by itself. It can be used in the gardens and in the home to repel unwanted insects, especially mosquitos and fleas.


6. Citronella

Some know this plant as citronella (Cymbopogon) while others recognize it by its other name, lemongrass. The super strong fragrance masks our body scents so bugs can’t find us so easily. The strong scent is also undesirable to blood-sucking insects when it comes to the odor, as well as the super bitter taste.


7. Eucalyptus

Once again the strongly scented oil in eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is behind the bug repellent qualities. Eucalyptus oil has the ability to mask our scent, which confuses the bloodsuckers. The oils can also block the carbon dioxide and lactic acid exhalations which are two other ways the insects find us.


8. Wormwood

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is an awesome mosquito repellent. You can use the fresh crushed leaves alone or make a brew using a combination of other essential oils and herbs. Wormwood is another plant that is great for repelling bugs from the garden, as well as keeping them away from our flesh.


9. Pennyroyal

This member of the mint family is another that can be brewed for tea, as well as for brewing bug spray. The volatile oils found in pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) leaves make an incredible bug spray.


10. Garlic

Any species of fresh crushed garlic can make an amazing bug repellent.  Unfortunately, it is one of the stinkier options for both bugs and humans.


Essential Oil Bug Repellent For Clothing

This recipe is rather strong and doesn’t contain any carrier oils. It is meant to be sprayed onto clothing: Do Not Use Directly On Skin! You can also rub some of this onto your pet’s collar to keep them bug-free as well. You can even use a little bit on the pet’s bedding to help keep bugs at bay.


Rosemary Bug Repellent

This is a super simple recipe and it is safe for the skin. However, always remember: if you’ve never used certain oils or plants before, do a skin test to be sure you won’t have a negative reaction.


  • 1 cup dried rosemary leaves
  • 2 quarts water


  1. Place 1 quart of water into a saucepan with the rosemary and boil it for about 20-25 minutes.
  2. In a separate half-gallon container pour in the second quart of water.
  3. Strain the rosemary water, discarding the plant matter into the compost.
  4. Add the rosemary water to the half-gallon jug.
  5. Shake. Keep this spray stored in the refrigerator so it doesn’t spoil. You’ll know when it isn’t going to be useful any longer when the scent becomes weak. You can apply this directly onto you and your pets’ skin.