Looking for natural insect repellent

I’d like some suggestions for natural insect repellent.  I’d rather avoid chemicals like DEET if I can.  Something that can be put in bug-out bags.


  • Comments (19)

    • 2

      bu pause

      (Apologies for the out-of-season picture)

      I always swear by “Bug Pause”. Down here in Panama it is the only DEET-free repellant that I trust to work consistently. Anything that can handle the sand flies mosquitos, and ants here can work ANYWHERE against ANYTHING.

      • 1

        Interesting philosophy behind the name ‘Bug Pause’.  However, I don’t think I will be in Panama and Bonaire any time soon.

      • 1

        Hola BigWig!

        Ah, a shame: I hear Bonaire is lovely in the Fall. 🙂

        Ok, how about something a little more international?

        chigg away

        Not exactly “natural” (nor is it cheap) but it lacks DEET and it works. Even works to sooth bites after the fact as well.

    • 1

      Citronella candles.

    • 3

      I like to cover up rather than go for repellents.  Head nets are completely chemical free and you will never run out. Maybe something else to consider.

      • 2

        Good evening / morning Jenny,

        I’m getting ready for some volunteer work at a field clinic several hours drive from here.

        Will be carrying a head net – without the houla hoop – for this work.

        Also packed gloves.

      • 3

        I bought two head nets in the camping section of Walmart for $2.50 each. They are so lightweight and fold down to nothing, no bug out bag should be without.

    • 4

      Keep in mind, any insect repellent will be a chemical.  It might not be DEET but it will be a chemical.  Even “natural” products, derived from plants, are chemicals.  Doesn’t necessarily make them safer than any other chemical.  Plant based chemicals can be just as hazardous as anything made by man.

      And also, for what it is worth, in a crisis when using a bug out bag, I’d be much less concerned with how safe a common, everyday chemical was than how effective it was.  At that point, you are talking survival… not long term exposure.

      • 1

        I understand.  I am familiar with the man-made insect repellent, but am not as familiar with natural ones as well as their effectiveness.  Also, I might be able to find the natural ones in nature. 

      • 2

        Good evening / morning Redneck,

        Above post worth much to me. It’s a valuable philosophy.

        Thank you.

        I personally need DEET for the numerous ticks here in this humid forest.

        DEET works and I concede having a weakened immune system due this darn aging process.

    • 3

      Might seem odd or unbelievable to some, but I never put on bug spray.  And yes, I live in the hot, humid, wet south, have a one acre pond on my property, have all sorts of thick woods on or surrounding my property, and my neighbor has a large lake across the lane from our house.  We get lots of rain.  Last Saturday we got around 6 inches and has rained off and on since them.  Today was our first dry day in a while.  I spend many hours outside each week including always feeding my catfish at dusk on my pond.  You would think I’d get swarmed by the nasty bugs… but no.

      Don’t get me wrong.  This part of the country is full of mosquitos… just not on my property.  We encourage and cohabitate with the animals that prey on mosquitoes.  During the daylight hours the barn swallows patrol, hunting for those mosquitoes.  We have a large mud nest on our side porch and every year we have two hatchings from it… each hatching having around 5 or so babies.  There are numerous other swallow nests on my property… down in the horse barn has a couple, the upper barn has a few plus more under the eves of the house.  Most days I can go outside and watch a dozen or more swooping around catching mosquitoes all day long.  Each one can eat many thousands of mosquitoes daily.

      I also have a large population of bats, which likewise patrol from dusk to dawn.  Each one can eat over 1000 mosquitoes an hour.  There are plenty of woods for them to nest naturally plus I have multiple bat houses on my property.  I love to sit outside as it gets dark & watch the bats.  I even have a detector that amplifies their echolocation clicks so that I can hear them hunt.

      I am amazed to hear of folks destroying swallow nests and running bats off.  This just shows how important it is to live in balance with nature.  When you run into vast swarms of mosquitoes, you can bet your bottom dollar man has removed the mosquito predators.

      • 1

        Good morning Redneck,

        So true.  

        I’m a conservationist.

        This year didn’t care where the wasps were on and around shack. Wasps were dining on that 17 year arriving bug and I like wasps much more than that hybernator at rest for 17 years.

      • 2

        I generally am not too concerned about wasps as they are all around.  Them, and all sorts of other bees are attracted to my muscadines right now, so while I’m picking we share a common area.  We are both busy, so we don’t both each other.  However, Sunday while picking, some red wasps joined us… and I left immediately.  They are flat out mean & ugly.  I watched two of them attack each other in midair & fall to the ground in battle.  I figure it was time for me to leave.  🙂

        If they weren’t on a food item, I would have come back with wasp spray.  I have been attacked by them before.  Like I said, they are very mean.

      • 2

        Hola Red!

        Si senor. The locals get VERY punchy when some idiot kills the tree frogs or basilisks around here for that very reason.

      • 4

        Hola Bongo!

        Funny you mention tree frogs.  I just love them.  They are so cute looking and they love to climb our doors and will cling to the window panes.  A few nights ago, I was getting in bed & noticed one on the window pane.  What caught my eye was that every so often it’s throat glowed.  I wondered if this was some new species but then quickly figured out it had obviously just eaten a lightning bug (firefly)… as the periodic glow slowly moved closer to its stomach.  It was entertaining to watch with the lights out.  🙂

      • 1

        I have two questions to you redneck. It’s nice to see you comingle with so many animals and plants.

        What is that amplifier called? It sounds interesting.

        If I do have many bugs around my house, how can I encourage predators like bats or swallows to move in and help remove them?

    • 2

      In the south east US there is a bush called Beauty Berry that have leaves that happen repel mosquitoes when you rub it on you. The bush has tiny violet colored berries that are also edible. 
      I’m thankful to know this since this weekend I went for a hike in a state forest and stupid me forgot bug spray which is a nightmare in Florida, but with using those leaves we didn’t get a single bite.

      • 3


        Is this the bush you are talking about? It would be hard to miss those vibrant berries.

      • 2

        Yes, that is the Beauty Berry bush. Those berries do stand out when hiking and they grow abundantly in Florida.