What could be better than enjoying a summer evening outdoors? A summer evening free of insect bites and stings, that’s what! Whether you are going out for an evening jog or gearing up for a weekend camping trip, steering clear of bugs is probably on the top of your to-do list. Insect repellents that contain DEET (the common name for the chemical N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are very effective, but you may worry that these repellents are bad for you or the environment. You may be wondering whether there are any natural products that can help to keep the bugs away. Read more to find out!

A thousand years ago, DEET-based insect repellents were not an option. So how did our ancestors avoid being eaten alive by bugs? Plants!

Most plants contain compounds that repel insects. These compounds help the plants protect themselves from being eaten by insects. People have taken advantage of these insect-repelling properties for thousands of years. Some of these practices are still used today in developing countries. Bruising plants to release their insect-repelling compounds or burning them have both been used to keep homes and outdoor areas free of insects.