Nah, I’m not talking about packing your bug out bag. Although you might want to stay tuned for some essentials you might want to consider adding to your bug out bag for the prevention of bug bites and the diseases they can cause. 🙂 It’s those summer bugs that have us bugging out I want to talk to you about. You know, that wonderful feeling that accompanies being mauled by every bug you’ve never heard of come spring and how to make it STOP! Completely!!! 🙂 Those who know me know I have no problem hanging out with alligators, wolves, bobcats, bears and other so called wild beasts, but when it comes to bugs…if you want to see me scream and squirm, these tiny little creatures will do the trick. And after almost dying from bug bites, leaving me unable to talk and walk, I’m a little thorough when it comes to ensuring I never have to deal with an unwanted and potentially dangerous bug again!
There was a time in my life I said I could never leave the west because we had it so good and bug free. I did live out east, south and midwest previously and the thing that tortured me the most was the bugs! So I ran back west! Helicopter bugs, ufo bugs, alien gonna kill you bugs, biting, stinging, even the kind that blow your brain up bugs, as is what happened to me in Florida in 2014 and 15 with neuroinvasive west nile viral encephalitis, thanks to all the lovely gmo mosquitos.
So here we are, back in the Ozarks, since 2020 and believe it or not, I found a way to coexist harmoniously. Even with MANY indoor/outdoor pets!!! That basically means any bug that gets near me or my home dies, which is a BIG change from when I lived in the Ozarks before and had to hide inside and not even be able to enjoy my lovely gardens! If you saw my older videos about staying bug and pest free, while living in a tent off grid, I have basically stepped it up a notch to cover a very large home, multiple bodies and acres of forested yard!
If you know anything about the Ozarks, I know you’re not believing me right now and that’s okay. I didn’t believe it was possible to live here bug free either, but thankfully it is!!! So here are my best tips to keep your bodies, homes and yards bug free! I will break it down in categories so you can choose what’s right for you based on your needs.
And for the obligatory disclaimer: PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THIS AS MEDICAL ADVICE and MAKE SURE TO CONSULT WITH YOUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY HERBS OR ESSENTIAL OIL! Just because they might smell good and look pretty, herbs CAN AND DO interact negatively on certain people with certain conditions, allergies, medications or even other contraindicatory herbs! I don’t even know if that’s a word, but it sounded cool in my head. Even after your medical professional clears you to try any of these, you still want to take caution and test each oil on the back of your hand, or arm, just one drop, preferably diluted with a carrier oil BEFORE spraying or dousing your body or home in any of these potential solutions. And don’t forget to click the links to read the published reports on the herbs and oils I will be discussing.
Home & Person
If you do not have any pets and you just want to keep yourself bug free in or outside your home, there are many options depending on how severe the bugs are. For example, when I was in Florida central gulf coast being swarmed by yellow flies, I actually carried a small spray bottle filled with peppermint essential oil, isopropyl alcohol and water, so I could shoot them and their mosquito buddies before they even made it to me. It was crazy buggy out there in the Chassahowitzka Forest!!! Imagine Logans Run, if you will…..pow pow, poof, gone…sorry buddies, it was your time…and it worked. lol That was in addition to also wearing bug oils on my skin and spray on my clothes!!! Yes, the bugs were THAT bad there in the Florida Central Gulf Coast. In fact those yellow flies would literally chase you in on the boats, paddle boards, etc all the way back to your campsite! They would even wait for you if you dare dove in the water to escape them! It was incredible! And I hate to break it to you, Deet, off and skin so soft did NOT work against them. I would put my oils on and my friends would wear their sprays and one one kayak trip down the river, my friend had over 40 yellow fly bites and I had none. 🙂
Essential oils have been given a bad wrap, while many claim there are no studies of their effectiveness, this report says something different.
So what kinds of essential oils should you have on hand to address not only the prevention of bites, but also to heal the damages, itchy, stingy, swollen sites and the infections they can cause for when we forget to put them on as a preventative…?
Lavender and peppermint are well known as bug repellents and known to work against many bacterias and infections, yet there are many more to choose from to suit your needs, availability and in finding something that smells pleasing to you. After all, if you don’t like it, you’re not gonna use it! Then it won’t work! 🙂 I like to add a little extra zing in my repellents to ensure that it addresses ALL bugs and potential conditions they can cause in one punch! Citronella, yarrow, lemon balm, fennel, sage, basil, tea tree, patchouli, bay, rosemary and lemongrass also repel very well and if hit directly, any essential oil or alcohol will kill the bugs. Then there is myrtle, thyme, oregano, eucalyptus, lemon eucalyptus, catnip, neem, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pine, cedar, wormwood and geranium, which have all been proven effective insecticides and repellents, according to pubmed.gov, with evidence also of their ability to thwart off any “bugs” the bug might wanna leave you with such as lyme and other infectious diseases. they are also effective against termites, fire ants and every other bug you can think of internally and externally. Other less known oils and herbs like Ylang ylang, litsea cubeba, vetiver, juniper, anise, petitgrain and camphor also provide promising protection.
So what do you do with all this info? I am providing a wide variety so that you can have some flexibility if you want to create your own sprays and oils. And remember, just because all of these oils may be generally regarded as safe for humans, according to the FDA, it does not mean all of these are safe for pets. Below I will share what I use on my pets, very rarely as it’s not needed if I keep up with the home and garden.
So what do I do to keep my home bug free? Besides the normal cleanup, litter boxes, not leaving messes, crumbs, etc, I make a few sprays that I use inside on carpets, cat trees, bedding and sometimes myself if I’m going to take a walk in the forest. My main spray is Bug Bane, but I sometimes change up the lemongrass with geranium or lavender, depending on how I’m feeling. The one constant is ALWAYS CEDAR AND CLOVE, because if you read the links above, you know they ALWAYS WORK TO KILL EVERYTHING! Ticks, termites, mosquitoes and I’m sad to say, even your friendly house spider and moths that fly in at night hanging out by your door light will also disappear! I also quarantine all store bought foods I buy in their own restaurant grade sealable container in case of mealy moths and other bugs that might hitch a ride home, to prevent them from contaminating anything else. I leave crushed bay leaves in my kitchen cabinets and sometimes spray a cotton ball with peppermint, clove, anise or whatever else I might feel like smelling at the time. This ensures not only my home stays bug free, but also my kitchen and food! I also spray my pantry with my Bug Bane to ensure nothing decides to taker a bath in the flour or sugar.
To make your own spray use about an ounce of any or any combination of the essential oils mentioned above, add about an ounce of isopropyl alcohol and fill your 32 ounce spray bottle with water. 🙂 Voila!
Now if you don’t want to use essential oils and want to protect your or your pets skin, you can make an infused oil with any of these herbs mentioned above. When making infused oils, be sure to use thoroughly dried herbs for best and longer lasting results. If you are looking for a quality already made infused oil grown organically at the Ozarks Church of Nature and Magical Food Forest, then be sure to check out our infused oil selections! Many of these are safe for pets as well. 🙂 I leave the peppermint, geranium, lavender and lemongrass oil by my door so I can remember to just rub it on my arms and legs on my way out. And please remember that no oils should be kept in the sun and high temperatures. While essential oils will last longer than infused oils in extreme conditions temporarily, it will degrade the product quality and can even “cook” the oil used in the infusion and cause early rancidity.
Beyond herbs and oils you can also sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around your home if you see ants, fleas or any other uninvited visitor. Besides, FOOD GRADE DE is great to have on hand anyways to treat parasites and worms in humans and animals, improve skin and hair health, digestions, and other conditions, it’s also great to kill non beneficial predatory bugs in the garden, like squash bugs, vine borers, japanese beetles, aphids and more. Also, growing any of these plants in and around your home will also help to repel houseflies and mosquitos. Not only will they repel pests outdoors, bringing them into your home also brightens everything up AND keeps them outside! I hang springs of basil, lemon balm, rosemary, sage, peppermint, geranium and lemongrass in my home for that reason! Flies seem to dislike basil, peppermint and anise the most, but keep in mind, the best standby to always have on hand is cedar and clove for ALL!!! Of course it would be hard to hang that in your living room. 🙂
If you would prefer a ready made oil or cream that has been proven to assist in healing bug bites and the conditions they cause, as well as prevention, I would recommend Hikers Peak Oil, which has been used literally around the world since 2008 and Zen 4 Men, which isn’t just for men. 🙂 Pain Be Gone Dream Cream has been known to assist in healing tick bites that lead to lyme disease and can kill any parasite, fungus, bacteria, virus or infection, according to pubmed and first hand experience for well over a decade, while All Wound Self Heal is the Go to for healing ALL skin wounds for humans and pets. You can use a dilution of Hikers Peak for your pets, but I would not recommend Pain Be Gone for animals.
If you do have any of these plants growing in your yard, you can grab a sprig of peppermint or lemon balm and rub it on your skin, put it in your hair, a little yarrow or wormwood in your pocket, lavender or basil and this works pretty well for temporary repelling actions and smells nice too.
For our Furry Friends, I will simplify this section now that you are familiar with MANY options for your bug repellent needs. Keep in mind MOST essential oils are TOXIC to your beloved fur babies! So whatever oils you decide to use, please ensure they are diluted and not used until after you test a very small patch of skin.
When my home is sprayed with Bug Bane, no bug that comes in the house can live. That means even if your dog or cat comes in with a tick, they will not leave with one and you will get to sweep the dead body off the floor or watch it try to crawl down the cat tree for safety. 🙂 Although the Bug Bane should not be used ON pets, it is safe to use on their bedding, carpets, etc. Just be sure to NOT spray while they are there, because their precious hearts could be sensitive to inhaling these chemicals. Yes, essential oils ARE chemicals!!! Highly volatile ones! That being said, if you want a spray for your pets, it is safe to use lemongrass, cedar and lavender in small amounts. Neem oil is also safe and effective. Alcohol is NOT safe, so I would use a bit of witch hazel to mix the oils, then fill with plain water. This should be enough to safely combat any bug they could acquire. Also, DE outside your homes entrance, or even inside on the carpet…keep in mind you should vacuum after each application, again while pets are NOT in the room. While it’s safe for humans and pets to drink DE in their food or water, it is NOT safe to inhale and can cause respiratory damage! Be mindful in dropping it and creating clouds of dust.
If you wanted to treat bug bites or other wounds, infused oils of lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, lemon balm and geranium are safe for their skin. Also you can try good old fashioned coconut oil and vinegar! Dr Bronners was a great soap to bath them with last I checked, but I would avoid tea tree and peppermint as too much can also be toxic to pets.
If they have worms, you can easily treat them with a little bit of DE in their water and for severe cases, wormwood, oregano, self heal and forsythia extracts are great pet safe choices and just a few drops is all you need.
So how can we control bugs in the yard? Depending on your situation, chickens, ducks, turkeys and guineas are great choices if you’re not worried about them destroying your garden! 🙂 They can ensure your yard is tick and chigger free year round!
If that’s not possible or desired, I used a product from a Texas based company I would recommend and use again called cedarcide. I’m not into their sprays as I’ve found mine to be safer with less toxins and more effective, however I use the granules to sprinkle in my yard a couple times a year and it works! I’ve also used it in situations where I had to clean out an old shed sitting there for decades so I sprinkled these granules and was able to clean it out completely bug and spider free the very next day!!!
And as I mentioned before, planting these trees and plants in your yard will also reduce your buggy visitors and also might even repel other critters like snakes!
I hope this gave you all the information you need to get started in keeping your sacred sanctuary bug free. I know it’s not fun trying to relax on the porch, bugging out with attacks from every angle!
And if you are more of an audio/visual type learner, here’s a video from a while back that discusses many of the things mentioned here in this blog.
If you got this far, thanks for being here and if you have any suggestions about what works for you, please feel free to share in the comments! 🙂