With Summer come those little pests
that can ruin a good time. Rather than put up with them, or
spray potentially toxic chemicals into the environment, why not
use natural solutions that will keep them at bay, and keep your
environment clean and fresh? Essential oils and pure botanicals
are the perfect alternative, and the following information will
help you to enjoy your Summer, and send those bugs packing.
course of my practice during the years I was an herbal
practitioner I got almost as many inquiries from people about
their pets, as from people about themselves. At most times of
the year, the questions had to do with fleas and insects
bothering pets, people, and infesting houses. Short of hammering
these horrible creatures over the head individually, nothing
really wipes them out effectively, except for really potent flea
sprays or internal medications and poisons. In the past, my
technique was to have the house professionally sprayed about
once every five years, and then use herbal remedies as
repellents to keep fleas away. I also fed myself, members of my
family, and the dogs and cats with plenty of flea repellent
foods, such as those that contain B vitamins, as well as using
supplements of Brewer's yeast and B vitamins.
is as detracting to a flea as B vitamin tasting skin. They just
refuse to get near a pet that has been made healthy, whose coat
and skin are shining with health, from a daily dose of B
vitamins, Brewer's yeast, additional fatty acids from wheat germ
oil and a little zinc. There are wonderful products on the
market that one can use to effectively repel fleas as well as
flying insects. Royal Guard Insect Repellent is one of the many
completely natural products that are available at health food
stores or natural pharmacies. Usually these products are
composed of a variety of essential oils in a carrier oil base.
These oils traditionally known for their insect repelling
qualities include Myrrh, Pennyroyal, Citronella, Lemon
Eucalyptus and others in a soy oil or Calendula-infused base.
The addition of Australian Tea Tree oil also helps to soothe the
itch and sting of insect bites. You can rub the oils on yourself
or on your pets, especially on the back or belly of pets.
Everyone will smell good, while repelling the fleas. One can
also compound various herbs and rub them on cats, dogs and
people to repel insects and fleas. These powders can be very
effective and usually smell good as well. Now, more often than
not, I use the Royal Guard or similar product.
like to inhabit dark corners, and when they smell warm tissue
will jump to it. If you mix powdered herbs, like Bay leaf and
Eucalyptus together, along with Boric acid powder, and sprinkle
this along the baseboards, and in corners, the flea population
will be considerably reduced. You can also make flea herb
pillows for your pets to sleep on. The pillows should be made of
Pennyroyal, Eucalyptus and Bay for dogs and Catnip, Valerian and
Chamomile for cats. These pillows are so entrancing to pets that
they will claw, suck and chew, generally attempting to destroy
them to get to the herbs inside. For this reason, use a really
tough fabric, like denim to make the pillows. Each should be
stuffed with at least 8 ounces of the mixed herbs.
natural flea collar is easy and simple to make. You will need a
jelly jar, 4 - 8 feet of 4-inch cotton rope or thick yarn, 1
Tablespoon of cocoa butter or petroleum jelly and about 2 ounce
of pure essential oil. The oil should be a mixture of
Pennyroyal, Citronella, Cedar, Bay, Eucalyptus, Lavender or
Sassafras. Do not use Pennyroyal alone – always use a mixture of
oils. I especially prefer a combination of the first four in
equal parts. Mix the essential oil with the cocoa butter or
petroleum jelly and cover the cotton rope with it. Remember to
get the mixture into all parts of the rope. You may have to
untwist it a bit to force the mixture into the spaces. Place
this rope in the jar, put the cover on, and allow it to steep
for a few days. Remove the rope and pull it through your fingers
to remove all the excess. Cut lengths that will fit your
children's ankles, pet’s necks and tie in place using a square
following formulation will require frequent reapplication.
Another option would be to increase the Lemon Eucalyptus instead
and substitute more Coconut or Grape seed oil.
1 oz Neem oil to 1 oz of Coconut oil
1 cup 95% neutral grain spirits. (Total 9000+ drops)
1 dram (120 drops) catnip oil - (will attract cats but repels
bugs, so don't use this in the jungle or woods where tigers,
lions and panthers live!)
1 dram (120 drops) Lemon Eucalyptus E.O. (bug repellent)
1 dram (120 drops) Lemongrass/Citronella mixture E.O (bug
2 ml (60 drops) Lavender/Peppermint E.O.
E.O mixture for scent (Total 420 drops)
Mix the essential oils together well to integrate (succuss).
Then add the Neem and vegetable oil and alcohol and shake well (succuss)
before using each time. When you wish to use this, dilute 1-2
times with hydrosol or distilled water. Put into spray
containers and use liberally. Shake before each use. This recipe
must be reapplied frequently. I prefer the alcohol to vegetable
oil because oil makes you feel greasy/oily, which makes you feel
sweaty, which attracts bugs. A light spray of the scented
alcohol works better for me.
I use essential oils of Catnip, Lemon Eucalyptus and
Lemongrass for a bug repellent control. I have experimented with
many blends, and find that adding the Catnip oil significantly
increases the effectiveness. The spray mixed 50/50 with
distilled water or Catnip hydrosol lasts from 1-3 hours
depending on how much a person sweats. In an unscented lotion
base, it will last longer. The total essential oil content is
about 1.5% in the spray and less than that in the lotion since
it stays on longer and people tend to apply more if using the
Use at dusk and spray the screens and mosquito netting (both at
dusk and before bed).
wasps & yellow jackets
in a Victorian home that has a 100-year history of housing paper
wasp and yellow jacket nests. During the course of the year,
when I teach Aromatherapy Classes and Distillation classes and
instruct people via the Aromatherapy and Herbal Studies Courses,
I have to deal with these pests and instruct my students how not
to get bitten, irritated or stung. I have also developed an
Aromatherapy Travel & First Aid Kit to handle such
jackets are voracious predators of insect pests such as
caterpillars and flies. They are a type of wasp but are often
mistaken for bees. Sometimes they are confused with other less
aggressive predatory wasps, especially paper wasps. Yellow
jackets are relatively short and stout compared to the longer
slender paper wasps. Paper wasps also have more dangling legs.
jackets nests are spherical and are enclosed in a papery
envelope with a small entrance hole at the bottom. They may also
bed in the ground, in old logs or other places where they can
burrow and make their nests. They have been found in the logs
that I use to line my pathways.
jackets build nests in abandoned rodent burrows and other holes
in the ground, in attics (Christmas didn’t happen one year in my
house because we could not get into the attic for a month, thus
we could not get the Christmas ornaments out), in wall voids, in
shrubs, in rotting logs lying in the garden and hanging from
trees (tree climbers always check our trees for nests). They
release a sort of fragrant glue that will attract them
repeatedly to the same property. I have had yellow jacket nests
in the rear wall of my home (1970), on the fence (1980), in the
Avocado tree (1985), under the porch beams (1990), under the
overhang of the greenhouse ledge (1995, killed with Nutmeg oil)
and in the attic (1997, in the kitchen wall above the cooler
(2001)). And it wasn't until they were removed from the attic
that I was told about the fragrant attractant that they release.
[That was the year that we had no Christmas tree, as we were
afraid to go into the attic to get the ornaments]. Paper wasp
nests are usually suspended from eaves or porch ceilings and
look like tiny umbrellas filled with hexagonal cells.
NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR WASPS,
CONTROLS and TO AVOID STINGS:
• Don’t swat at yellow jackets as you will only aggravate them,
instead flick them off your skin with the edge of a credit card,
key, the laminated card that comes in the first aid kit, or
other flat surface.
• Wait until it lands on a flat surface and then trap and remove
the creature then either release it or freeze it to get rid of
• Do not strike at a yellow jacket. Slow, gentle motions like a
breeze are better.
• Brush a yellow jacket off with a piece of paper and move
slowly and deliberately
• Do not squash a yellow jacket. They emit a chemical when dying
that can attract and cause other nearby yellow jackets to
TIPS DURING YELLOW JACKET SEASON:
• Wear protective clothing near underground nests
• Avoid outdoor cooking if you are sensitive to stings
• Carry an epinephrine kit if you are hypersensitive to insect
• Outdoors, do not carry sweet drinks or snacks with meat, if
you must put them in closed containers with lids. Better to
carry plain water and have a nice vegetarian salad.
• Do not wear perfume. Use unscented body products.
• Wear socks and shoes.
• Wear light colored clothing.
• Move slowly and deliberately near a nest.
• When distilling, move slowly and don't distill near a nest.
• Remain calm and do not get nervous and sweat – they smell
DESTROY THE NEST OR HAVE IT REMOVED
There is a danger of multiple stings when you mess with a
yellow jacket nest so it is best to have a professional remove
the nest. In my area, we have a company called Beebusters. Also,
there are university students doing research on the creatures
and sometimes they will remove for free a particularly large
nest for homeowners.
• Seal holes and cracks in foundations, walls, roofs, and eaves.
They come back year-after-year to the same locations because of
the familiar odor.
• Cover attic and crawl space vents with fine screen.
• Clean recyclables before storing them and keep garbage cans
clean and tightly covered because Yellow jackets scavenge for
meat and sweet foods.
June 30, 2000, Christine Wenrich and I distilled the Lemon
Verbena; I trimmed half of the tree and cut only those branches
that had flowers as well as good-looking fragrant leaves. In the
past, it has been my experience that Lemon Verbena should be cut
in the spring or before flowering so that it will regrow. We
harvested and distilled.
sitting awaiting the completion of the distillation, I looked
towards the division fence (divides my yard from the dog/still
yard) and noticed the new Lemon Verbena from two years ago, had
a very dead looking branch. I went to it and reached down the
stem of the Lemon Verbena with my left arm towards the place
where the plant entered the ground and was swarmed by 6 or so
yellow jackets. I did everything wrong. One was caught in my
hair, which I managed to brush out. However, one particularly
nasty creature had already stung me on the lower left arm about
6 times and another had me on the upper left arm above my elbow.
My arm became immediately painful and began to swell — I began
walking quickly towards the house and warned Christine to get
out of the area.
CURE: I had available the Tea Tree oil in my Travel & First Aid
Kit that had been distilled from the flowering Tea Tree in
Golden Gate Park and applied this oil liberally to my arm and
neck. It eased the pain. I think I should have used meat
tenderizer to dissolve the protein of the sting or as someone
else suggested, cut half of a Tomato and apply directly to the
stings to neutralize the poison.
course of the next three weeks, the sting areas swelled and
became two hard knots, one on the forearm and one above the
elbow. There was quite a bit of pain involved and for the pain
and inflammation I took Advil® several times a day. I also
continued to apply Tea Tree oil regularly and occasionally tried
Lavender (anesthetic use but no healing). Occasionally, I also
applied Helichrysum but I think that was just a waste of very
one week, the stings, now one hard knotty mass began to itch
unbearably. I would spray them with Tea tree hydrosol, which
reduced the itching considerably but would often forget and
scratch unconsciously. After two weeks, the skin over the
hardened knots flaked and finally the swelling subsided. I
continued to spray with hydrosols. Now 3 weeks later all that is
left is pinprick-sized scabs that are very slowly healing.
FUTURE CURE: One should definitely include meat tenderizer
(Accent) in your first aid kit if you are near the seashore for
jellyfish stings or on land for yellow jacket or hornet stings.
Apply cut Tomato to dissolve acid. Bromelain, which is also a
meat tenderizer, may work (Pineapple).
ADVICE: When around yellow jackets, do not run or sweat. Walk
away with purpose and if one lands on you, brush it away, do not
swat. They have the ability to bite or sting multiple times.
Before sticking your hand into or around a plant, look for a
nest. Where yellow jackets have nested in the past, they will
nest again as they leave behind their odor that is persistent
and will attract new colonies repeatedly.
All rights reserved 1980 - 2009. No part of this article may be
used without the prior permission of Jeanne Rose. © Authors
Copyright Jeanne Rose, 219 Carl St., San Francisco, CA 94117
is based on 3 separate articles:
- by Jeanne Rose©, August 1980, June 18, 2009
- Formulation given by a student of the Herbal Studies course,
with additional information by Jeanne Rose
YELLOW JACKETS or OTHER INSECT STINGS'
By Jeanne Rose (Late June 2000, 2008)
More Articles by Jeanne Rose -
Online News -
also runs a non-profit aromatherapy organization called the
'Aromatic Plant Project'. Along with the many wonderful things
that this organization does, they also make a bug-repellant soap
for the troops. You can buy bars of this soap for $8 + $1 s & h.
Please contact Jeanne Rose at the Aromatic Plant Project for
the Jeanne Rose Site:
Author, teacher, herbalist & aromatherapist,
Jeanne Rose, shown signing
one of her many books
at one of her seminars taught across the country
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