What is the Best Homemade Bug Spray

By Holly Giles | Recipes

beautyberry bug spray

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What is the best homemade bug spray?

The best homemade bug spray is made with a Florida native plant, Beautyberry. This native plant is often considered a weed and can be recognized on roadsides or woods. This DIY project is great for the whole family to learn. Make your own mosquito spray and use fewer chemical-based sprays when possible.

Beautyberry has been used for many natural remedies, primarily by Native Americans. They rubbed the leaves of the bush on their skin, releasing the natural oils that carry repellent properties. Soaking the leaves in a carrier like alcohol or witch hazel for one to two weeks releases the oil, which allows you to spray it on clothing and the skin as an effective bug repellent.

berries of a beautyberry bush

How do you make natural bug-repellent spray?

I hosted a class for families to learn about Beautyberry and make their own bug spray to take home. Teaching kids about native plants is passing on knowledge to the next generation. The kids had a great time and loved by how many things you can make from one plant.

making a label for bug spray

Part of the class was to devise their own names for their mosquito spray. I love it when kids get creative. They made their labels and had fun with the whole process of the class.

Print my labels: Bug Spray label

Does DIY mosquito spray work?

As part of my Florida Master Naturalist training, we had project assignments with each module. I made the bug spray and shared the history of Beautyberry’s uses. On a hike, I presented the bug-repellent here in Florida. After my presentation, several classmates took the spray and sprayed it all around their ankles, shoes, and socks. Many of us did not use the spray, including me.

Next, our class was two days later. Several of us had large welts on our ankles and lower legs and were very itchy. As we began discussing how we all got the chigger bites, we realized that only those who had not sprayed the mosquito spray on ourselves had the bites.

pouring alcohol into jars

What household items can be used as bug spray?

I gave away all the bottles I had made to my classmates. Then, weeks later, I heard from park rangers to beach patrol people who said the spray worked on sand gnats, mosquitos, and horse flies. What a testament and a wonderful thing to share with those who work in nature.

Ingredients for natural homemade bug spray

  • leaves from a beautyberry bush
  • alcohol or witch hazel
  • Rosemary oil



About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.