Essential Oil Bug Repellent

July 16, 2014 Uncategorized

Essential Oil Bug Repellent                                               mosquito

I started the research for this post outside tonight, but with all of the humidity and rain lately, I was driven to head inside for some TerraShield.  Those biting bugs are thick, and it feels like their friends are visiting my patio for a vacation and a meal.

We try to avoid commercial bug repellents.  For many years, we tried Skin-So-Soft, but didn’t have the success we hoped for at deterring bugs.  I cringe at covering my kids with DEET containing products, but who wants their kids to be covered with scratchy welts from biting bugs- not to mention the risk of diseases carried by these insects.

The EPA reported 14 to 46 cases of potential DEET associated seizures, including 4 deaths. The EPA states: “… it does appear that some cases are likely related to DEET toxicity.”  DEET works well to repel biting bugs, but what is the trade off?   It’s nasty stuff.  To read about toxic encephalopathy associated with use of DEET insect repellents: a case analysis of its toxicity in children, look here:   Yes, DEET is generally regarded as safe, but so is Aspartame.  We avoid exposure to both. 

Fortunately, you can make your own natural bug oils to deter biting bugs and protect yourself from all of the diseases that they carry.  Typically these natural repellents need more frequent applications but it’s a fair trade off to reduce your DEET exposure, I think.

doTerra carries its own proprietary blend of bug repellent oils.  It is called TerraShield, and it is mixed into a base of fractionated coconut oil, so it is ready to go, right out of the container.  It contains: Skimmia Laureola, Catnip Plant, Amyris Bark, African Sandalwood, Cabrueva Balsam, Wild Orange Peel, White Fir Needle, Cedarwood, Citronella Herb, Eucalyptus Leaf/Stem, Hawaiian Sandalwood, Genet Absolute, and Rose Flower essential oils in a base of Fractionated Coconut Oil.  It smells much better than OFF!.

Others have used citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Patchouli, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender or Hawaiian Sandalwood with reported success.  You can customize your own blend.  Try 20 drops of essential oil in 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. I have heard many testimonials of success with witch hazel and essential oils, mixed and delivered by a refillable spray bottle (essential oils mix better with witch hazel than water, I am told- I have some in my PeaPod order for next week, so I’ll try it myself, soon.)  Catnip oil is reported to be very effective and safe in many studies.  Here is one ( 11/j.1365-2915.2009.00809.x/abstract;jsessionid=FC5DFCF5C1BD89EC017B0E957BB93D22.f02t04?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false )


Another great source of information found here ( ) describes citronella essential oil as effective as DEET dose for dose- but describes a shorter period of effectiveness due to the occurrence of evaporation.  My family prefers these natural combinations.  I don’t worry about having them out at night with natural oil concoctions protecting them from biting bugs- and feel less guilty tucking them in without taking the time to scrub them down in the shower to remove all traces of chemicals- like I would be inclined to do with a DEET containing product.  Hey, I’m lucky if I can squeeze in 2 hours of outside time in the evening before bedtime!    This same article lists peppermint (spiders hate peppermint too- spray it on your screens and in your closets) lemongrass, geraniol, pine oil, patchouli, cedar oil and thyme oil as effective agents to deter biting agents for 60-120 minutes.

Essential oils ARE effective at deterring insects.  Currently, the field of plant based repellent development has been working hard to increase the duration of repellency.  As we continue to demand safer insect repellents, we can expect that the industry will evolve to meet our demands.  In the meantime, get some TerraShield or create your own custom blend- and if you remain outside past the 2 hour window- re-apply.

Please visit for TerraShield or any combination of bug deterrent oils that you prefer.


Do you use essential oil bug repellents?  What combinations have you found effective?  Please share!


As always, the information in this blog is purely educational, and should not be used to replace the advice of your medical care provider.  The advice given and/or recommended products are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Any treatment should be discussed with your medical care provider who is familiar with your unique situation and medical condition.


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