BUG OFF! 7 Homemade Bug Repellents

Bug SprayBug SprayThe warmer weather is upon us, and with it comes quite possibly one of its only drawbacks: BUGS. While some bugs are fun for kids to catch and are pretty to look at, like fireflies and ladybugs, others are just down-right nuisances, especially mosquitoes and ticks. So what's the best way to keep these critters away without harming your family's health? It's not with that can of DEET-laden bug spray.

According to Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist Mohammed Abou Donia, DEET should never be used on an infant because "their skin is too thin to provide an adequate barrier against absorption, and their systems cannot metabolize drugs and chemicals as well as an older child or an adult." Abou Donia further warns that DEET-containing products should never be used with medications - even something as common as an antihistamine - because of the risk of toxic and long-term side effects, like destruction of brain cells, muscle coordination, memory loss, and joint pain. YIKES!

Related: Finding beauty products in the kitchen

So skip the chemicals this season and try making one of these very simple, natural, and safe bug repellents. All you need is a kitchen, a few ingredients from the store, and a couple of minutes to make these oh-so easy bugs-be-gone potions. I even included a few plants to add to your yard that help keep the bugs at bay - and your family bite-free.

CitrusCitrusCitrus tick repellent
Oh, delicious summer citrus, how we love thee... To make a citrus tick repellent, boil 2 cups of water and add the slices of 2 citrus fruits - whatever you prefer or have in the kitchen. Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are detested by ticks, so any will work for this mixture. After it has boiled for a few minutes, let it simmer for about an hour. Strain the liquid and pour into a spray bottle. It can be used on your skin and on your pet!
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LemongrassLemongrassLemongrass oil mosquito repellent
Combine 25 drops of lemongrass essential oil with olive oil, sunflower oil (which are called "carrier oils" for this purpose), or witch hazel to yield a 1-to-10 parts ratio. This natural tincture repels mosquitoes and can be applied to the skin, especially on the wrists, behind the ears, and at the ankles. Lemongrass oil can be purchased at health food stores, food co-ops, and some grocery stores.
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CloveCloveClove oil mosquito repellent
Oh, the delicious smell of cloves! Who ever would have thought that these sweet bits keep the skeeters away? The 1-to-10 parts ratio applies to the making of this deliciously natural mosquito repellent, as well. So mix 25 drops with the carrier oil of your choice, apply to your skin, and enjoy a bug-free day. It can also be mixed with distilled water and used as a spray.
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RosemaryRosemaryRosemary oil mosquito repellent
While not as sweet smelling as the clove or citrus tincture, this natural rosemary oil mosquito repellent is equally as effective. Mix 1 part rosemary oil with 10 parts witch hazel to create an effective solution that can be sprayed on clothing, skin, and pets.
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Related: 17 recipe tweaks to help you slim down for summer

Cedar WoodCedar WoodCedar oil mosquito and tick repellent
If you're going to be in the great outdoors, why not smell like it AND keep the bugs away? A study released earlier this year revealed that cedar essential oil is "toxic to ticks and highly effective" as a natural pesticide. Mix it with your choice of carrier oil and you're ready to hit the hiking trails.
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FlowersFlowersGeranium oil mosquito and tick repellent
Who doesn't love the smell of geraniums? Well, apparently mosquitoes and ticks don't. To make this sweet-smelling repellent, mix 4 tablespoons of whichever carrier oil you want and 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel with 30-40 drops of geranium essential oil, which can be purchased online or at some health food stores - in the cosmetics section. This one is also safe for pets!
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LavendarLavendarLavender oil tick repellent
This one might be perfect to use if you're hoping to put your little one down for a nap soon, since lavender is also known for its calming effects. Add 30-40 drops to 4 tablespoons of the carrier oil of your choice and 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and you have a delightful way to keep the bugs off your baby - and yourself!
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-By Aela H. Mass
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