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Plant-Based Essential Oils As Insect Repellents
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Plant-Based Essential Oils As Insect Repellents

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Warm weather welcomes us back to the outdoors with a wholesome embrace of sunshine and that summery feeling that puts you in the mood to get a beautiful tan! After cloaking up in your home for months, you want to get back out there and be warm in the body and lively in spirit. But as we look forward to having a good time in warm weather, pesky insects are also crawling out from wherever they hide in cold weather to feed and essentially be nuisances. 

The traditional trips- to- the- beach and the outdoor barbecues and picnics are just the right set of activities to make bugs feel happy. Humidity can be a powerful magnet for mosquitos and gnats to bombard our spaces and cause discomfort. If the harassment of bugs is already making you cringe, not to worry, there are viable options and solutions available to safely deter pesky bugs and keep you healthy at the same time.

Potentially Harmful Insect Sprays

Multiple bug sprays are on the market that do an excellent job of repelling bugs but could be dangerous for the human body. Whether by ingestion or absorption, some insect sprays are potentially harmful. This summer as you make your shopping list and add bug repellents, be aware that there are healthier options. 

Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Essential oils are chemical extractions from plants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that these chemicals are “responsible for the distinctive odor or flavor of the plant they come from.” Plant-based bug repellent studies such as This Summer from the 2011 edition of Malaria Journal revealed that essential oils such as citronella, eucalyptus, catnip, clove, patchouli, peppermint, and geranium oils have varying degrees of repellency. 

Plant-Based Bug Repellent

Everyone wants to have a daily routine free of itchy bites and constant swatting. A natural product is always best to keep your environment healthy, pleasing and bug-free, but not all plant-based products are effective repellents of pests. Mosquitos such as the Aedes aegypti are disease carriers that can be harmful to humans. If you are opting for a plant-based product, the starting point is approval by the EPA. You don’t want to be heading outdoors with a false sense of security, so just any plant-based repellent will not keep you safe from deadly critters.

A recent analysis showed that over 3,000 EOs – essential oils—from various plants were analyzed, and only about 10% of them are available commercially as potential insecticides and repellents. Other formulas were found to be the typical mixture of water and other inert ingredients, along with a multiplicity of low-concentration oils that are rarely above 3 or 4 percent each.

Conventional DEET

Even the conventional DEET is now causing concerns among scientists regarding human health risks and the environment, especially for children. Therefore, plants EOs with high repellent properties and low in harmful toxins - to the environment and humans - are welcome alternatives to well-known synthetic insecticides.

Insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin must go through the rigors of consistent testing under the EPA’s product performance guidelines, which allows the manufacturer to produce a legally binding label. The label will include ingredients, toxicity levels, production time, and instructions on usage and disposal. There is a clear understanding of the repellent's safety for adults, children, and animals.

It is estimated that a third of the American population uses DEET every year to repel biting insects such as ticks and mosquitos, and is applied directly to the skin. It is used to safeguard against mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus, West Nile virus, Malaria, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme. Since there are new health and environmental concerns for the popular DEET usage, scientists must strike a balance between insecticides, repellents, and essential oils to protect humans from vector-borne illnesses.

Trust-Worthy Essential Oils and the EPA

In light of diseases such as Lyme and Zika, an ineffective repellent can have dire consequences, so you need a trust-worthy plant EO (Repellent). A repellent’s property's trustworthiness officially begins with the EPA approval. This requirement proves to consumers that the product has been meticulously tested and its safety is confirmed to perform to the manufacturer's specifications.

The EPA as a government agency with oversight for repellent approval has EOs in a wholly separate category from conventional pesticides. Essential oils are categorized as minimum-risk pesticides and don't undergo rigorous testing like synthetic repellents, so they have no way to confirm what's in a plant-based repellent container. Consumers don’t know how effective the product is or how safe it is to use, which leaves the door open for misleading advertisements. An essential oil label can claim that the product repels ticks and mosquitos, but cannot say if it protects and fights against Zika, Lyme, or other vector-borne diseases.

EPA can easily approve DEET or Picaridin because they have been thoroughly tested, but they have no such policy for essential oils. Thankfully though, the 10% of EOs that are commercially viable and are effective, indicate how long repellency will last if you are seeking a repellent to protect you from diseased insects.

Because EOs is not recognized as pesticides, the manufacturers have no way of getting their products approved by the EPA. They must therefore do independent testing with integrity to follow market standards and stand out with a product tried and tested by consumers over time and can be trusted to repel and protect.  

The following are natural essential oils that are --plant-based--viable alternatives to potentially hazardous substances going into the body through your skin or via inhalation. These are among the 10% tested with high levels of insect repellency in the warm days ahead.

  1. Citronella Oil

Citronella oil is one of the best-known and most effective natural bug spray ingredient. What makes citronella particularly effective is that, unlike other insect-repelling essential oils, its scent is not what causes ticks, mosquitos, and other bugs to back off.  Citronella oil instead gets the job done by masking the odors that attract bugs in the first place. 

Research shows that when citronella is added to both plant-based and DEET repellents, the protection time is extended by an additional two hours, making it an effective and long-lasting ingredient. 

  1. Clove Oil

Clove oil, among 38 other essential oils, was tested on the arm of volunteers. Clove oil was quite successful in being the best natural mosquito repellent in that it provided between 2–4 hours of repellency against three species of mosquitos. To make the results even more exciting, clove oil offered the longest duration of relief when compared to all the other essential oils that were involved in the research. 

Clove is one of the many essential oils that can be found as an element with the best bug spray for kids to keep toddlers and young children protected from ticks without inflaming their sensitive skin. 

  1. Geranium Oil

Geranium oil can take on the task of warding off a formidable array of insects. It offers protection against mosquitos, flies, ants, ticks, fleas, and gnats, among other pesky bugs. Geranium oil, along with other essential oils such as rosemary, thyme, peppermint, and cedar wood can be found in Nantucket Spider’s bug spray for dogs, which can fight off biting flies, fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. Look for a DEET-free option that doesn't contain citrus oils that can be highly annoying to dogs as you get rid of their fleas. 

  1. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary is commonly used as a culinary herb, but don’t let that fool you into ignoring its effective repellent powers!

Rosemary oil can be a refuge when looking for the best natural insect repellent for mosquitos and other insects. It can address problems with flies, ticks, and moths as well.  Steam distillation of the flowering top of the plant is how Rosemary essential oil is obtained for usage. 

Essential oil tick repellent that is also masterful at deterring mosquitos and flies that are buzzing around, contain organic oils like rosemary, while still managing to have a smell that you can enjoy. Also, choosing the right bug repellent with rosemary as a plant-based essential oil can be sprayed without causing stains. 

  1. Peppermint Oil

The smell of peppermint is widely associated with Christmas candy canes and breath mints to keep our oral odors up to par. But peppermint oil offers a strong scent that is also able to work overtime to repel different types of bugs. In a 2011 peppermint oil study, it was shown to provide 100% mosquito protection for at least two and a half hours when it was applied to the skin. 

Peppermint is so impactful as a bug spray that it only takes about 4–5 drops of peppermint oil with ¼ cup of water on exposed skin to protect against flying insects. 

  1. Thyme Oil

Thyme can act as an insecticide when you need to handle the frustrating harassment of houseflies. Take pleasure in knowing that there happens to be five separate substances that can be found in thyme that fight off insects. They are referred to as monoterpenes, with the five individual elements being: carvacrol, p-cymene, linalool, alpha-terpinene, and thymol, with a few of them appearing to be a better house mosquito fighter than DEET.

  1. Patchouli Oil

Patchouli has been used as an insecticide and a strong scented, and effective insect repellent. It was popularly used against bed bugs historically, among other things, and is still being used in modern times against bothersome mosquitos, moths, flies, ants, and fleas. This is the most natural method to eradicate these pesky buggers.

It is also easier to pick up fungi in the warm months. Patchouli inhibits the growth of the fungal infection and is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and athlete's foot. Because of the high content concentration of the Patchouli oil, it is combustible and should be kept away from open flames.

  1. Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil has been used since the 1940s as an effective insect repellent and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved the potent and aromatic oil as an effective ingredient against mosquitos.

A study in 2014 revealed that a mixture of 32% lemon eucalyptus oil could give more than 95% protection for three hours against mosquitos.

  1. Catnip Oil

Great news! The compound in Catnip is said to be as effective as DEET and could be at least ten times more effective at repelling dangerous mosquitos! You can also rub fresh catnip vigorously between your palms and apply it to your skin for a thirty-minute relief against mosquitos.

If you are going hiking or involved in any outdoor activities, protect yourself by applying catnip essential oil to your skin or mix the oil into an unscented lotion to make your own insect repellent lotion.

Essentially, the above-mentioned essential oils are some of the most common and effective plant-based essential oils that can protect you from a wide range of miniature predators on a hot summer’s day. Look for them at your grocer, and enjoy the great outdoors with complete confidence as you stock up also on natural tick repellent for dogs and optimum bug spray for kids to keep your loved ones insect-free in the humid season. 

Nantucket Spider

At Nantucket Spider, we develop and formulate our own essential oil repellents with an effective blend of essential oils. We test for effectiveness with independent lab tests, so you know our formulas are effective. Our range of sprays are each formulated with specific essential oils to create natural yet extremely effective repellents for various uses; original, for dogs, for kids, and extra strength tick. With the correct blends of natural ingredients, viable solutions are readily available to choose the best options for you and yours—from the youngest to the oldest in your family. 

Keep biting flies and mosquitos from harassing you with your choice of bug spray that also has the added benefit of fresh and pleasing fragrances. Whether you want the best natural mosquito repellent to send your child to summer camp, or you need fair-trade repellent incense sticks to burn in the evenings, Nantucket Spider has a wide range of healthy solutions to keep everyone in the home comfortable and free from annoying insects.