Bugs love me. The feeling, sadly, is not mutual (though lemon ants aren’t too bad…). Unfortunately, most “jungle strength” insect repellents contain nasty concentrations of DEET, which attacks my skin just about as much as those biting bugs, is particularly hideous for the surrounding environment, and is even strong enough to remove my nail varnish. Ugh.
So I started making my own bug spray by adding a few drops of citronella oil and a sprig of rosemary to a light body oil in a spray bottle. Insects (particularly sandflies) absolutely hate the citronella and rosemary, and my skin gets a lovely moisturising massage. Other oils you can try are orange, eucalyptus, lemongrass and lavender.
If you’re travelling light, this is great – as you just need to carry round the tiny bottle of essential oil to mix up a new batch when you run out. You can even mix it with water and olive oil if you can’t get hold of another carrier oil while on the road. Apparently alcohol works well as a mixer too – so if you find yourself in a remote jungle town, get hold of a bottle of 80% proof homemade aguardiente and get experimenting!
If you’re travelling to areas with a lot of critters and a high risk of diseases, take a bottle of stronger Incognito spray as a back up – it’s 100% natural but super concentrated. Good stuff!