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Natural Bugspray Failure

Posted Feb 11 2013 8:20pm

So, as you might know, we really try to live naturally and sustainably.

We are growing our own food, compost, recycle, buy as little as possible, know our farmers by name, and are working hard to get further “off-grid,” with the attitude that every little bit helps.

But sometimes, we just have to admit failure at our natural endeavors. Complete and utter failures. 

We had been using Bushman’s insect repellent for years, and boy, did it work. 40% DEET (!!), a solid neurotixin, it kept the mozzies away, all right.  And boy, do we have mozzies.  We most be on the mosquito breeding capital of the world, because we have a plethora of half-inch mozzies in our kitchen, bedroom, etc.  In our room, we have mosquito netting that does the trick, but unfortunately, our 1840′s windows are not conducive to screens. So, we resorted to Bushman’s to try to protect our skin from the hundreds of bites that decorate my legs, even though I felt guilty for the environmental impact.  It wasn’t until I playfully kissed Anthony’s sprayed neck and tasted the Bushman’s that I knew it had to go. My lips were numb, and I couldn’t get rid of the taste for hours.

So, I turned to my favorite resource, Wellness Mama. Katie has so many recipes, plans, and natural alternatives that I have used and loved.  She turned me on to so many natural cleansers (white vinegar with essential oils, anyone?) and even soap nuts for the laundry.  All of them work as well, if not better than the conventional products, so I was very excited for a bugspray alternative. 

soap nuts


So, I had such faith in her that I went out instantly and bought the witch hazel, eucalyptus and lavender oils, and combined them with a few I had at home. I felt so great about myself – we were going to have natural bug repellent, that I made myself!  It only took a few minutes!  Who needs this highfaluting, toxic waste-dump spray anyway?

Natural, homemade bugspray

Unfortunately, Katie’s mosquitos must be quite genteel in comparison to the even monster zombie mosquitoes here in Brisbane.  The spray I made not only didn’t work, I think the bugs confused it for a snack food.  I have never had more bites (or sleepless nights from them) in my life.

So, I compromised.  I went to the pharmacy, and bought DEET free mosquito repellent, based on citronella oil. While it’s not quite as effective as the Bushmans, at least it smells good, doesn’t make me cough, and isn’t so totally toxic.  

compromise bug repellent


Katie has another recipe that involves apple cider vinegar and dried spices that I’d like to try, when I get around to it.  For this year, however, I’ll simply admit my failures, and sheepishly rub my store-bought gel on my legs, giving a quiet “va fanopoli!” to the mosquitos. 

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