Did you ever go to camp and sing that diddie There Ain’t No Flies on Us. You know the one, you repeat that very line over, and over, and OVER again in an escalating volume until the point where the kids are screaming in almost inaudible tones and then you bring it back down to a whisper. A solid three minute activity if you are a counsellor … five if you are skilled at the game and can involve more than one group of tiny people.

It is exactly how I felt this morning as we ventured to our local zoo.

Now, I should give you a clear(ish) picture of what our zoo is like. It isn’t one of the big city zoos that have geozone exhibits, filled with exotic animals on a lending program from countries around the world. It doesn’t have many endangered species, or a staggering variety that would have any child in awe.

In fact, it is more of a collection of animals that do a pretty good job at surviving in our own climate, we get about as exotic as a zebra and giraffe, but mostly it is filled with abandoned big birds and a handful of monkeys.

There are dead ends abounding as the trails seem to lead no where fast, and the paving is a collection of sand and gravel tiny enough to work it’s way into even the snuggest of shoes, assuring that – at least TWICE – you will have to stop and empty your shoe for fear of permanent damage to the bottom of your foot.

The trails wind through natural forest with the occasional exhibit of lamas, porcupines and even a pig pen. It’s fantastic.

My favourite part of the whole park is the fact that my boys know and LOVE it. They run through it as if it were their very own, talk to the animals, sing with the birds and feed the goats. They know which exhibits are next, how many new babies there are, and how to use the bathroom on their own >> after all, they ARE boys and it’s weird to go into the GIRLS bathroom, or so they say, now that my oldest has ascertained that he is a “man” because he is the ripe old age of 5.

It’s a quaint mom and pop zoo and it is perfect for a weekly visit with my small army.

Now, the point of this is not to share with you the zoo that animal activists would probably have shut down in a heart beat because, heaven forbid, an animal be kept in captivity when it should be roaming the savannah … our perfect little space.

I want to share with you how we kept the bugs off my unruly troop even in the dense “forested” paths.

We did it the crunchy way. The natural oils, make it at home, spray it everywhere and PRAY that it works type of way. Why?

Well, to be honest, it was a combination of my desire to be more mindful in what I am putting on my boys on the daily, our path towards a more “crunchy” life, and the realization that the mosquitoes have emerged in full force and I am without a deet spray so, why not give this a try.

And so I did what any modern mom would do. As I packed up my boys, gathered their snack and go lunches and filled their water bottles, I asked Siri how to make essential oil bug spray.

What’s the harm in getting her to look up the answers for me, while I attempted my hand at herding cats.

I found a recipe that I could – pretty much – satisfy with my ever expanding collection of oils, one that I ALSO had the “medicinal” ingredients to create << in that it called for Witch Hazel which I HAPPENED to have on hand from my postpartum “padsickles” *I’ll share that life saving recipe later*.

And so – with a quick dump of all my almost packed cleaning supplies, I found a small spray bottle and I was ready to DIY some bug spray in *hopes* that I would be able to deter the mosquitoes, prevent any of the dreaded ticks from sucking the blood from my boys, and keep flies at arms length … or further, from us.

^^ PS – when making this spray it is recommended to use a glass bottle OR a plastic bottle that is PET 5 (whatever that means) but, because I was doing this on the fly and not REALLY prepared for my crunchy venture, AND because the spray doesn’t last long when you are dousing four boys and a busy momma … the dollar store bottle sufficed.

Alright, so I raided my oils and kept in mind a few pests that I was determined to deter:

Mosquitoes = lemongrass

Ants or Spiders = peppermint

Ticks = lavender or cedar wood (I did not have cedar wood)

And then the natural BOMB for repellants and to add a cleaning property to the mix (because this momma wanted an ALL PURPOSE kind of spray) I added lemon and tea tree oil as well as a couple drops of on guard because … well we were petting goats on this trip so, never TOO oiled for an all purpose spray.


And so here was the winning combo – and when I say winning I mean, no bug bites on ANY of us! It also smelled amazing, washed up the boys hands GREAT and lasted the whole trip with only one top up application (just to be safe) post 2 hours of fun in the sun … and shade.

So, how easy was it to make?

SIMPLE, freakin’ so simple anyone could do it << even this, all to often, opt for the easy option, momma.

The Recipe

1/4 cup Witch Hazel (which in my house is a pour into the bottle until half full because it also calls for an equal amount of water)

1/4 cup water *high quality H2O*

*** I should let you know that I had about 1/3 a cup of Witch Hazel and about 2/3 water because, well, I rarely measure ***

20 drops tea tree oil

10 drops lemongrass (remember this recipe is PRIMARILY for mosquitoes)

7 drops each lavender, peppermint and lemon [{I am told this combo of lemon, lavender and peppermint is the ESSENTIAL starting point]}

5 drops of on guard

BAM – all purpose bug spray that actually WORKS!!!

So, as I packed my boys into the van after our morning at the zoo, and I scanned their little legs and arms for bites, we started singing the camp song as we celebrated this small win.

No chemicals, no high pressured CO2 bottles, all natural and super oily bug spray that WORKED!!

OH, and to stave off even more creepy crawlers, I roller balled each of our ankles with tea tree roll on because I read that spraying your feet ALONE << ALONE, will reduce the likelihood of tick bites by 74% so, you can never be too safe!

And there you have it! A super simple bug spray that you can LITERALLY whip up in a matter of a minute, with stuff that every oily mom has around the house and is ACTUALLY effective at keeping the bugs *both big and microscopic [{germs}]* off.

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