Whether you despise DEET or left it at home, these natural bug repellants fight the never-ending battle against the backcountry’s tiniest big problem.
Buy a 4 oz. squirt container with spray top. Inside, mix the following:
Rose geranium, lemongrass, and cedar are especially effective against ticks, while the rest repel mosquitos and biting flies. Bug free, you can now customize the aroma with your favorite essential oils. This chemical-free concoction can be used on pets as well.
EPA recognizes the five oils in this clinically-tested repellant as effective against insects. For protection without toxic chemicals, Herbal Armor is for you. Though natural repellants mandate frequent application —about once every two hours—the peace of mind and headache-free scent are worth it. Spray this on naysaying DEET-lovers and they too will make like the bugs and buzz off.
Campfire smoke deters insects. Add sage or rosemary to the fringes of burning coals to enhance the fire’s bug-fighting properties while the smell induces deep relaxation in most humans—a bite-free recipe for a great night’s sleep.
Matunas Surf Wax is made naturally on a 25-acre farm in Santa Cruz, CA. Bug Be Gone makes history as an ignitable bug-repellant that doesn’t send guests fleeing from chemical fumes. These small-batch candles rely on citronella (found in lemongrass and lemon balm). So pleasant you’ll light them at the sight of a single gnat.
The last resort for clean freaks, the first for kids and dirt bags: apply a layer of mud to exposed skin to put a natural crust between you and bites. Emerging from the woods, your zombie-like appearance may provoke shrieks—a fair trade for coating against bites and sunburn.
*recipe courtesy of Jean Bergstrom, herbalist and co-founder of Her Wild Roots