With spring weather upon us, there are many things to celebrate: The sun on our faces, more time spent outdoors, the birdsong, and the budding flowers. But if you’re not a fan of the bugs that tend to come with warm weather and would prefer not to find spiders in your bathroom or mosquitoes buzzing around your bed, there is a natural way to keep the creepy crawlies at bay without endangering pets or wildlife the way chemical bug killers can. Depending upon which insects or arachnids you are trying to repel, there are different combinations of essential oils that will serve your purposes best. Not only will this make your solution to your pest problem plant-based, but they generally smell lovely, too.
Since mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks can all pass disease, and since many folks are simply terrified of spiders and would rather not rely just on them to take care of the problematic insects, the following essential oils have practical, important uses.
How to keep bugs from biting you
While you may want to keep bugs out of your house, there are others you want to avoid, even while outside. Mosquitoes usually top this list since they not only cause itchy bites, but can also pass dangerous illnesses. Even though using a Deet-based repellant can be effective, not everyone relishes the idea of spraying chemicals on their skin. A great alternative is to make a DIY mosquito repellent using mint, basil and/or lemon eucalyptus. (If you have or think you might have allergies, please check with your doctor before using any essential oils on or near your body.)
According to the Project Wellness Blog by Pharmaca, you can mix 20 to 30 drops of basil essential oil with half a cup of distilled water and spray it directly onto skin. Alternatively, because mint oils like peppermint and catnip have been proven to work as well as Deet to repel mosquitoes, you could add ten drops each of the mint oil of your choice and lemon eucalyptus oil to three tablespoons of a carrier oil (almond, coconut, etc.) and smooth over skin.
If you’re hoping to avoid no-see-ums or sand flies (common at beaches), lemongrass oil is your best bet. Mix 20 to 25 drops with a quarter cup of witch hazel and a quarter cup of distilled water and spray onto skin. To prevent fleas and ticks from biting while outside, mix 15 drops of lavender essential oil into mild, unscented liquid soap and smooth over skin. You can also do the same with geranium oil.
How to keep spiders out of your house
Spiders, meanwhile, are a different sort of “problem.” Since they actually eat the “bad” bugs, many people say we ought to live in harmony with our eight-legged friends (with the obvious exception of the varieties with dangerous, venomous bites). That said, when there are several spiders in your house, it can be really unsettling, especially for those who are afraid of them. Spiders popping up in your bathtub, in your bedroom, or on your kitchen counters is a nightmare for many, but, luckily, there is a kinder, gentler way to deal with them than smashing them with a shoe while screaming in terror.
Spiders hate peppermint. According to Healthline, while science doesn’t know exactly why spiders avoid peppermint, there are a few theories. One may be that because spiders smell and taste with their legs, they don’t want to crawl through something as strong-smelling and menthol-filled as peppermint oil. Another possibility is that they don’t like the monoterpenoids found in essential oils. While these compounds are proven to be healthy for people and contain antioxidants and even cancer preventing qualities, they are also a fumigant agent where it comes to bugs (via The Free Medical Dictionary). But regardless of why spiders avoid peppermint, we can take advantage of this fact. Put about five drops of peppermint oil in a 16-ounce spray bottle full of water with a bit of dish soap and spray on door frames and windowsills every few days to discourage spiders from coming in.
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