Once again I got a call from the school nurse.
My daughter’s legs were looking diseased. She’d get a bug bite, then scratch it. In no time blood would be dripping. So gross. And of course this mama felt like a failure.
The nurse said, ” I am pretty sure I know what it is. You have bed bugs.”
Once again, no. No, no we do not have bed bugs. My daughter is the only one with bites. The kids are in a bunk bed and the little brother who sleeps below her is fine. This has been going on for months! I have no clue what bug was eating her.
I tried everything.
I sealed all the windows.
I sprayed everything from gentle diatomaceous earth to ultra poisonous toxic bug killing soup outside the perimeter of their bedroom.
I placed citronella candles all over the room.
I hid bug repellant bracelets under her mattress.
I tried tons of “kid safe” sprays in their room.
The bites continued.
Finally, like most other things – if you want it done right, do it yourself.
I scoured the internet finding natural repellents. Then I compiled the list of the essential oils that would do the job.
Bug repelling essential oils include Citronella, Catnip, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Melaleuca, Clove, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil and quite a few others and Neem, which isn’t strictly and essential oil – but these are what I have used, in roughly that order of effectiveness. Most importantly is to use citronella for about 40% of your oil mixture and a tiny bit of Neem – then fill out the rest with what you have.
Today I did a bottle and used every oil I had listed above with vodka. I am hoping this lasts us through our month long summer trip. I will use it to spray down the beds and clothing when there is potential for bites. For this I use the “cheaper” oils – for the most part (these are food grade, but better safe than sorry). Theoretically none of the oils are going directly on skin, so I don’t want to use the nice stuff that is definitely skin and ingestion safe.
For 3oz of distilled water or witch hazel use about 40 drops of essential oil, place in spray bottle, shake and have at it. DO use a glass bottle – the oils will eat through plastic, so it is safest in glass. I like to use a bottle with a “trigger sprayer” – this makes it WAY easier to spray a large area. But you could also this bottle, which seems like it is at a good price, though once you get started you might just want to get a set of glass spray bottles so you can make other mixtures!
- 3oz Vodka or Witch Hazel/Distilled Water combo
- 20 drops Citronella Essential Oil
- 10 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 10 drops Catnip Essential Oil
- 5 drops Thyme Essential Oil
- 3 drops Neem Oil
If you don’t have all those, just substitute out what you DO have. I’d hate for you to go buying a new oil and this is ALL you use it for. That being said, if you live an an area with lots of bugs, you may want to go ahead and invest!
Once you’ve made this a few times you can start looking at it in parts, I rarely count drops anymore, now I pretty much just eye ball it. I usually keep a bottle filled with the oil mixture and then add it to water as needed so I don’t have to mix it up so much during high pest time.
About the Neem oil, because I use so little in the bug spray I do use this kind. That’s because I add a very tiny bit in my face wash and moisturizing oil – it’s really good for your skin! You can also add some lavender if the smell really bothers them, but we like the Eucalyptus smell. Neem is a STRONG smell, but you’ll get used to it.
I spray this in my kid’s rooms and on their beds during the warmer months to keep the bugs at bay. Once we moved to Texas, I just walk around the house spraying it everywhere! I’ve also sprayed down their playhouse as well as their clothes and bodies when I know they are going to be playing outside for a while.
Additionally, you could also grow any of the oils listed in their plant form around your home, especially near windows and other access points, to help keep those little buggers (pun intended) away!