Top 7 Essential Oils for Bugs

Can you use essential oils for bugs? Insects flying around your kitchen and house are annoying. Pests in your garden and around your property can seem almost impossible to get rid of. In fact, you may be so fed up you are ready to poison your house with some kind of toxic bug-spray or use pesticides to eliminate unwanted insects. There is a better way.


Top 7 Essential Oils for Bugs

Seven of the top essential oils you can use in your fly spray concoctions include citronella, pine, peppermint, lavender, patchouli, sandalwood and rosemary.

  • citronella: Not only does citronella help to repel flies in your garden, according to Winger, but also ants, fleas, gnats, mosquitoes, moths, nematodes and ticks.
  • pine: Veteran campers know that pinecones can be used to repel mosquitoes. Pine has also been known to keep fleas and ticks away.
  • lavender: While it attracts beneficial bees in its foliate state, as an essential oil lavender can be strengthened with other oils to effectively repel mosquitoes.
  • peppermint: In her book, Natural Homestead, Winger credits peppermint oil as an effective non-toxic repellent for “ants, aphids, bean beetle, flies, lice, moths, beetles, spiders [and] squash bugs”.
  • patchouli This essential oil is effective in inhibiting the onset of bed bugs, ants, fleas, lice and other creeping and crawling creatures.In the garden, Winger recommends it for repelling gnats, snails, weevils and wooly aphids.
  • sandalwood: In the garden, Winger recommends sandalwood for keeping weevils and aphids at bay. It has also been known for its properties to repel mosquitoes.
  • rosemary: This essential oil can be used as an ingredient in a spray that is used to repel flies, which is one of Winger's uses of rosemary oil.

    Rosemary Vinegar Fly Spray

    Jill Winger recommends the following recipe in her book, Natural Homestead:

    2 cups raw apple cider vinegar
    2 cups water
    20 drops rosemary essential oil
    10 drops lemongrass essential oil
    10 drops cilantro essential oil
    10 drops melaleuca essential oil
    3 drops natural liquid dish soap (not castile soap)

    Winger advises combining the ingredients in a spray bottle and applying frequently. For homesteaders, this is extremely valuable information. In her book, Winger provides recipes like this as well as more than 40 others for homesteaders and those who are interested in using natural essential oils around the home.

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I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

27 thoughts on “Top 7 Essential Oils for Bugs

  1. I’m no oil expert, but I wanted to add cinnamon oil to the list. We had little sugar ants coming in from around a window in the kitchen. I took some cinnamon essential oil and dabbed it around the window frame, creating a little oil barrier. After I did that, no more ants — not a single one. That was 3 months ago, and we’re still ant free.

    1. Does anyone know a receipt for using Peppermint
      Oil for lady bugs or the beetles that look like the ladybug?

      1. They do not like citrus oils. Lemon or orange oil diluted in water and spritz are you want to repel. Or create a barrier line. They will only stay away from what you spray though, so half spraying may inspire them to just move over.

  2. Is there a secret to get rid of and repel fruit flies? I’m having a terrible time with them. They migrated to our bathroom and apparently had a hatching in the sink drain. When we turn on the water to brush our teeth or for my hubby to shave we find ourselves experiencing a wild fruit fly storm. I’ve tried attracting them to a bowl with rotting fruit and dish soap in it, but that’s not handling the situation. We tried baking soda and vinegar in the drain, and still a swarm comes flying out whenever we turn on the water. Any other suggestions on how to get rid of them?

      1. As far as the fruit flies are concerned, I used to work in a consession cabin on a golf course and we had a terrible problem eith them. We had a bug guy come out. Simple solution. Yes the do breed and live in any drain. Just pour bleach down all drains including kitchen, bath tub, shower etc. the key is to do it when noone will be using them for a while like at night befor bed. It works like a charm. I have used it at my own house as well and I bartended for a couple of years and taught them the trick. It has never failed. Good Luck!

    1. Hi! I solved the fruitfly problem in my home last year, after many years of trying all of the traps and other solutions I could find. Finally, I came across the one detail that most websites leave out: Exactly where the fruit flies hatch and live. Besides being on fruit and such, they live in bathroom sink over flow drains and in shower drains. The specific treatment is to spray something in the actual overflow drain slot in a bathroom sink, and also in each bath tub and shower drain, as well as under the rim of toilet bowls. The best things to spray in these locations include water and cinnamon BARK oil (20 drops or so to a quart of water in a spray bottle), peppermint oil and water, hydrogen peroxide and water, etc. If you think about it, if one cleans one’s kitchen well and has a clean home and still has fruit flies, the only answer is that they are living in a moist location. Otherwise they wouldn’t have enough water to survive. But it’s not enough to spray the oils or peroxide in the drains, you have to spray it into the overflow slot in each and every bathroom sink in the house. After multiple treatments, unless there was a basement or closet with a major moisture issue, the dreaded fruitflies should be gone. And just spray the same areas weekly or so thereafter and that will take care of that.

    2. If you leave a small amount of red wine in a small bowl, they are attracted to it, and drown in the bowl.

    3. We tried several of these approaches to getting rid of fruit flies. We had them like a plague for 2 months. I almost lost my mind. I sprayed a citronella blend of eo’s everywhere they seemed to frequent, but it just drove them to other parts of the house. We tried red wine in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. It trapped them well, but then I had to deal with the wine in the bowl, and some escaped and it was just gross clean up. ACV in a bowl worked a little less successfully than wine and was equally as gross during clean up. Finally I tried a banana peel in a sealed ziploc bag and poked holes in the bag. Over the course of 2 days almost every one of those critters crawled in the bag and got trapped. Clean up was a cinch. Just tossed the bag in the trashcan. No more flies! Not one!

    4. are you sure they're fruit flies? do you have a p-trap in the drain line? sounds like could be drain flies – dark, moth-like wings? could mean cleaning drain with a citrus /bio cleaner (safe stuff) and a good stiff brush the diameter of the drain. if red eyed fruit fly, mix equal vinegar and water (couple of oz. each) and a couple drops of dish detergent in a yogurt cup or other recyclable – several may be needed (won't work for black eyed fruit flies.) identification is critical

  3. I’m looking for some good ways to get rid or and keep away moths/ weevils from my pantry! Any solutions for indoors? What I read mentioned in the garden.

    1. Hi, Throw away all weevily food. Put new flour etc. in sealed containers. After you use the food, make sure you clean the outside of the containers well. Wash the cupboards with white vinegar and hot water. Spread bay leaves on the shelves (3 or 4 per cupboard shelf). This should do the trick. Once you are rid of them just continue the same habits to keep them away and replace the bay leaves every 6 months.

      1. We have done all that and then some and gave up. Now we containerize everything with tight sealing lids and place biocare insect traps next to flour containers. Captures the flour moths before they lay eggs. Got them at OSH and Lowe’s. Last for 6 months. Throw them away and get more. No problem since.

      2. We have done all that and then some and gave up. Now we containerize everything with tight sealing lids and place biocare insect traps next to flour containers. Captures the flour moths before they lay eggs. Got them at OSH and Lowe’s. Last for 6 months. Throw them away and get more. No problem since.

  4. Be sure to buy your essential oils from sources that are striving to do organic, sustainable, fair trade operations. There is a huge amount of counterfeit oils, such as adulteration and synthetics, which don’t work as botanical oils do. This is especially common with the rare or expensive oils like sandalwood and rose. Sandalwood is almost extinct, so almost all of it is fake – please buy sandalwood only from sustainable sources.

    Here’s a video about a new source of sandalwood from Hawaii, connected with a reforestation project!

  5. Hi! I’m wondering if anyone knows if this spray would be safe for lactating cows? We would love to find a natural, safe fly spray!!

  6. Pingback: Essential Oils for Bug Repellant – Quick Guide | Sweet Georgia Brown's Apothecary
  7. Hello,
    My 1 and 2 year old niece and nephew are in temporary housing while my sister and brother in-law get back on their feet. unfortunately there are bed bugs where they are staying, and they are getting bitten regularly. Breaks my heart… Is there an EO blend that is gentle on baby, possibly help them be calm and sleep AND (most importantly) repel those nasty bed bugs? Was thinking a blend of peppermint and lavender in a coconut oil base? But i think the peppermint may be too much and have an energizing effect rather than a calming one. Any thoughts/advise/cautions appreciated!
    ~ the concerned hippy aunt.

  8. for bed bugs maybe try diatomacious earth (don’t know if spelling is quite right) and mattress covers. remove sheets and wash in hot water. dust bed with de and vacuum. wrap mattresses with allergy covers. treat carpets with de and vacuum well. covers for mattresses and box spring are around 100.00 for both at bed bath and beyond, target or walmart. de is at home depot, I think. I think that’s the best start for bed bugs.

  9. Does anyone know of a recipe that will get rid of drugstore beetles and cigarette beetles? I have looked at many sites but have never found a recipe that will get rid of these types of beetles. Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Colleen,

      I need to know this too. I also would like to know where they come from. I have thrown all food out of my house, and now i dunno how to clean up teh rest and how to prevent them from coming back.
      Any ideas??

  10. I have these really small bugs in my home,some are white and some are black and some are florescent. They like to get in my nose, my eyes, my ears, my clean hair, all over everything. they multiply like crazy. try to vacuume a lot. hard to keep up with them. Seem like nothing kills them, they are driving me and my family crazy. I don't know what they are and what to use to kill them.

    1. Hi Sherri. I've struggled with the same problem as u. I've figured out that their carpet beetles. Their love our hair and everywhere there is any. They don't bite but their body hairs irritate our skin. And their such tiny bugs that we can't see the hairs on them. Once the hairs get airborne we start getting itchy and feels like were getting bit. Vacuum everything in ur home…wash and dry all ur clothing bedding curtains on hot soapy water. 1 tsp borax in 2 cups hot water for furniture. Spray it on chairs sofa etc wait 2 hrs and then vacuum furniture. Sprinkle borax in balcony door tracks. The little buggers live on dead bugs and feathers dustballs a good cleaning for about a week every day will kill them off. Remember to do the entire floor too. They also like hidden spots and congregate where they wont be bothered..

  11. There's noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I assume you made sure nice points in options also.

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