how to make a natural bug repellent


It’s that time of year for the bugs to bother us as we enjoy being outside. Mosquitoes, ticks, gnats and flies can make enjoying the outdoors not so enjoyable. There is relief from the itching and biting bugs with the plant, yarrow! This is a great bug repellent. A small spray bottle of yarrow tincture sprayed on your skin and clothes will keep those annoying bugs at bay.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) can be found along roadsides, in fields, or even in your yard or garden. It begins to flower in early summer with its white blooms and soft, fern like leaves. You can find the distinctive leaves even if the plant is not flowering.

This is an amazing plant and a staple in your herbal medicine chest. Yarrow not only heals wounds, it counters and prevents infection. It has been shown to be effective in killing all manner of bacteria, including strep and staph. This is much better than an antibiotics. I have sprayed yarrow tincture in my throat to halt a sore throat. I’ve used powdered yarrow to staunch  blood flow when I’ve cut myself. When sprayed on your face or back, yarrow tincture kills the bacteria that cause acne.

The US Army found yarrow tincture to be a highly effective insect repellent. In their tests, it outperformed DEET in repelling ticks and mosquitoes, but did not remain effective for as long.

It’s best to use fresh yarrow for your bug spray because it will be more potent. If you can’t find fresh yarrow you can use dried it’s just not as potent.

Apply the spray every 20-30 minutes if the bugs are heavy, if not you can apply the spray every couple of hours or so.

How To Make A Yarrow Tincture


  • Clean glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pen
  • 100% vodka


  • Collect the plants on a nice sunny dry day after the morning dew has dried. Cut just the top third of the plants using the flowers, flower buds, seeds, stalk and leaves. The white flowers are the best to use.
  • Put these loosely in your empty, clean jar. Using your scissors snip the plants in the jar so they are small pieces.
  • Fill your jar almost to the top, next fill the jar with 100% vodka using a stick to tamp around the jar to release any air bubbles. Make sure all the herbs are covered with vodka.
  • Cap and label your jar with the name of the plant, the date you made it and the date it will be ready to use.
  • Shake the jar once a day for 2 weeks and store in a cool, dark, dry place. In 6 weeks your tincture is ready to use.
  • Now you need to strain the plant material.
  • Take some cheesecloth and drape it over a measuring cup and secure it with a rubber band.
  • Pour the plant material and liquid in the cheesecloth, gather the edges of the cheesecloth up and squeeze all the liquid out. Discard the plant material in the compost.
  • Your tincture can be stored in spray bottles.

A properly made yarrow tincture is appropriate as a broad spectrum insect repellent, especially for mosquitoes, ticks, horse flies and deer flies. I use this bug repellent several times a day whether I’m in my garden or out hiking. This spray can be used on animals as well. It truly is a life saver from these annoying bugs for us and our animals.