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First off, it should be heartening to know that most herbs are bug repelling, including chamomile, geranium, lavender, artemisia, pennyroyal, and many more. To make an herbal bug repellent, we use essential oils which are highly concentrated.
This herbal mixture relies on two stronger repellents: eucalyptus and citronella, to which you can add other essential oils as you wish. Since both citronella and eucalyptus are on the smelly side, you may want to add lavender, geranium, or other essential oils to improve the fragrance.

You will need a tight-closing glass container to store your bug repellent.
For a base: 2 oz. of vodka (a food quality alcohol) or 2 oz. of an oil such as grapeseed or almond oil
1/4 tsp. citronella
1/4 tsp. eucalyptus
1/8 tsp. each of up to three additional oils, such as pennyroyal, geranium, lavender, or cedar


Shake the mixture thoroughly, and store the container in a cool, dark place. To use, just saturate a cotton ball and apply to exposed skin. I often put a saturated cotton ball of the stuff into a plastic sandwich bag, to carry on walks in the woods or to outdoor events, in case I need it.

The oils can be pricey, but both citronella and eucalyptus are in the $3-5 range for a small bottle. You should be able to make enough bug repellent to last the summer from one purchase of essential oils as a little goes a long way.

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