I don’t know about you..but here in Wisconsin the bugs are ravenous! We had three weeks of flash-flood thunderstorms and all that water brought the mosquitoes swarming. Most of us haven’t seen anything like it!

As we are all fighting the swarms to get to our cars and let the dog out the back door, bug spray seems SO enticing! But did you know what’s in conventional bug spray? It’s not good..to be honest, after reading what was in my sunscreen and deodorant I wasn’t surprised. There are natural alternatives that work well, too, but if you’re not yet convinced here are some scary facts I recently came across!

What’s in Conventional Bug Spray?

Most conventional bug sprays use a chemical called DEET. Bug sprays with DEET started to be manufactured during WWII and have been used ever since, so many of us have assumed it’s safe.

The way DEET works, however, is a little more alarming. They claim it blocks the antennae of bugs and disorients them, so that they are deterred from your skin and confused about where to fly off to. This is true..but it’s not necessarily the whole truth. According to different studies, DEET has also been shown to excite the central nervous system and works on flies by inducing “neuroexcitation and toxicity in insects.” Those affects aren’t limited to insects.

DEET exposure can cause similar symptoms on the human nervous system:

  • Insomnia and mood changes
  • Disorientation
  • Clumsiness when walking
  • Seizures
  • Coma and Death

Other symptoms could be:

  • Hives, rashes, and irritated skin
  • Blisters, burns and permanent scars
  • Burning and redness of eyes, ears, nose, and throat.
  • Moderate to severe stomach irritation (if swallowed)
  • Nausea and vomiting (if swallowed)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Very slow heartbeat

On kids, it could even cause seizures if left on the skin for long periods of time. How many times have you sat around a campfire sharing munchies with bug spray coated hands, then rolled into the tent for the night without showering, or even worn the same bug spray covered clothes the next day? This extended exposure and even possible ingestion of DEET put’s you at risk for the symptoms above.

Other Reasons DEET Isn’t So Great..

It doesn’t seem to work as well as we thought. Mosquitoes are less deterred the second time they’re exposed to it. Aside from that, they are evolving and some species, specifically the ones that carry diseases, aren’t as affected by DEET anymore. When you apply bug spray over sunscreen the sunscreen becomes less affective and it’s much easier for the DEET to penetrate the skin and enter your blood stream! Scary stuff.

It harms our environment. It’s destructive to wildlife and aquatic life. It’s not biodegradable, so every time we use it and wash it off in the shower or jump into a lake, it stays in that water and in our ecosystem.

So What Can We Use?

There are natural alternatives without chemicals that can work just as well! Rocky Mountain Oils offers a “Bug Away” roller that you can easily roll onto your skin! Click here to get their Bug Away roller blend.

Or they offer a “Bug Away Neat” oil that you can mix into a spray. Here’s the Recipe:

Bug Away Mist Spray



Add all ingredients to a 4 ounce spray bottle. Shake well before every use. Apply to areas where you are likely to get bit, both on clothes and exposed skin.

For Pets:

If you’re using this recipe on pets, only use 10-15 drops of Bug Away Neat instead of 75.

*This is a water-based recipe with no added preservatives, so we recommend creating small batches as need, especially because the shelf life is between 1-2 weeks. Keep in a refrigerator when not in use.

Happy outdoor activity-ing!

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