Vegan Bug Repellents: Surviving the Summer Bug Bite-Free

Ah, summer, the sun, the picnics and of course the beach! And then there’s the fun of dodging pesky insects, my least favorite summer pastime. For me there’s nothing worse than a night spent trying not to scratch mosquito bites when all I want to do is to SCRATCH MOSQUITO BITES! Add to that the constant scare of West Nile Virus and other insect transported diseases and it’s enough to make you want to stay inside.

Alas, dear Vegans, fear not!! For I have compiled a list of tips to keep you outside and bite free so you can truly enjoy your summer.

1. DIY vegan bug repellents

Catnip, peppermint, citronella and cinnamon oil do great at keeping the bugs at bay. Image: Shutterstock.
Catnip, peppermint, citronella and cinnamon oil do great at keeping the bugs at bay. Image: Shutterstock.

A great way to stay clear of bites is to make your own vegan bug repellent. Emma, from Backpacking Spirit, has a great insect repellent recipe that is cheap, easy to use and natural. Her recipe uses essential oils, specifically lemon eucalyptus oil, as essential oils have been shown to mask the scent of humans that insects find so appealing. Catnip, peppermint, citronella and cinnamon oil are also great at keeping the bugs at bay. Backpacking Spirit is not a vegan blog, but it is all about traveling. So if it works for Emma as she travels the world it should work for me at my weekend picnic.

If you feel like you need something a little stronger, you can try the Vinegar of the Four Thieves Insect Repellent from Wellness Mama. Supposedly this bug repellent recipe was used by thieves during the Black Plague to keep them from getting sick as they robbed the dead.  Whether or not that’s true, it’s a great story to tell as you are sitting around the campfire roasting your vegan marshmallows, NOT being bitten by bugs.

2. Ready-made vegan bug repellents

Ready-made bug repellent: California Baby natural bug repellent.
Ready-made bug repellent: California Baby natural bug repellent.

If you don’t want to spend the time making your own product you could always purchase a vegan bug repellent, and your best bet is finding them online.

My tried and true favorite, California Baby’s bug repellent, is a vegan product manufactured by a vegan-friendly company. I’ve used this product on my son every summer since he was born, it smells like lemon, works well, and I feel comfortable spraying it on him.  I’ve used it during a walk in a forest preserve one summer and came out bite free.  Coming from a person who insects feel especially attracted to, this is saying a lot!

3. Other natural solutions

If you don’t want to bother with constantly spraying yourself with bug repellent while you are enjoying your picnic at the beach then you can try some other options. Eliminating standing water around your location is a good place to start, since standing water attracts insects. But you can also try sticking whole cloves in halved limes and placing them around your table, or using a citronella candle. Last and certainly not least you could try eating garlic.  However, this last advice should be used with caution: while garlic may repel insects it may repel humans as well! 

Have a beautiful bite-free summer!

Image: Shutterstock.Modifications: TVW.

LeoLin Bowen

Writer & Reviewer
Content Manager

Leolin has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and is currently a Master's Candidate in Humane Education from Valparaiso University. She is one of the co-founders for the Chicago Veggie Pride Parade, teaches people how to live an authentic life on her personal blog My Life Outside the Box and she also is an independent consultant for the vegan beauty and wellness company, Arbonne. Leolin has been a vegetarian since 2007 and a vegan since 2009 and loves sharing the vegan message with others.