Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

WOODS Nontoxic Insect Repellent — My Recipe

With all the talk about mosquitoes and disease, it’s important to know how to protect yourself naturally from insects. Studies have shown that essential oils are as effective as toxic chemicals in avoiding bites and stings.

Here’s my recipe for WOODS… a potent essential oil based insect repellent. This is one of the first aromatherapy blends I made back in 1979 at the start of my herb business. Since my focus is now on Wreaths and Native Teas, I thought I’d share my recipe. WOODS has been used in Maine for biting black flies, in Louisiana for jumbo mosquitoes, in the Ozarks for “no see-ums”, in Mexico for sand fleas.

WOODS ingredients: cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, anise, pennyroyal in olive oil base. Cedarwood, citronella and eucalyptus are the most important, easy to find and inexpensive. Anise seed and pennyroyal are a bit harder to obtain and are often more costly.

Directions: in 4 oz of olive oil add 75 drops citronella, 75 drops cedarwood, 30 drops eucalyptus. (Optional: add 20 drops anise seed; 15 drops pennyroyal.) Shake well. Keeps longer when stored in refrigerator. This blend is highly concentrated and very effective. Keep from eyes, mouth and tender places.

Apply to skin to repel mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, flies, fleas when camping, hiking, working in the yard and playing outside. Reapply after 6 hours and after swimming. It’s very important to remember to reapply. I didn’t and a sneaky little beast gave me West Nile Virus.

I was bitten by a life-changing mosquito, yet I still respect and appreciate all of Nature. I have learned many lessons from my tiny visitor and can say I am grateful for what this little insect taught me.

Every part of Nature exists for a reason and fills an ecological niche. Mosquitoes are important pollinators and a significant food source for birds, bats, dragonflies, turtles, fish and frogs. There are over 3500 species of mosquito everywhere on Earth except for Antarctica and Iceland. Not all carry disease. Each species habits differ from day to night and feeding environment.

It would be god-like of us to think we should eradicate the mosquito and it is likely to have consequences we cannot predict. I can’t help but wonder what Nature is communicating through this tiny messenger. We have deforested, polluted, caused extinction and habitat destruction. Think Nature has had enough of us and our thoughtless actions?

There’s so much we have yet to understand about the tiny things of the world.

See Pat Tuholske’s Wild Wreaths, Wheels and Bundles crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com. Check out her “Nature Chronicles” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship at pattuholske.com.