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This Surprising Hack Will Keep Bugs Away for Good

The Family Handyman logo The Family Handyman 9/22/2019 Nick Gerhardt
a close up of a plant: Much like lemon eucalyptus, neem oil is known to contain compounds that insects heartily dislike. That means you can use it as an effective repellent. It is derived from evergreen neem tree, native to India, and known for its potent fruits and seeds. Add a couple tablespoons of the oil into your witch hazel spray and try it out. If the spray isn't mixing well even when you shake it, you can also add a little vegetable glycerin (aka glycerol, which is a clear, odorless liquid typically made from palm, soy or coconut oil) to help the ingredients combine. Neem may work best when combined with more fragrant oils. © mirzamlk/Shutterstock

Much like lemon eucalyptus, neem oil is known to contain compounds that insects heartily dislike. That means you can use it as an effective repellent. It is derived from evergreen neem tree, native to India, and known for its potent fruits and seeds. Add a couple tablespoons of the oil into your witch hazel spray and try it out. If the spray isn't mixing well even when you shake it, you can also add a little vegetable glycerin (aka glycerol, which is a clear, odorless liquid typically made from palm, soy or coconut oil) to help the ingredients combine. Neem may work best when combined with more fragrant oils.

There are a lot of anecdotes that tout the benefits of organic bug repellents but their actual effectiveness varies greatly. So what really works as a natural bug repellent?

It turns out neem oil has proven to be one of the best natural bug repellants out there.

What is Neem Oil?

Neem oil is a natural pesticide found in neem tree seeds and has been used for centuries to repel pests. It has a bitter taste with a garlic/sulfur smell. It needs to be diluted to be used on plants and skin, so users should follow the manufacturer's usage guidelines.

Why Does Neem Oil Work to Keep Bugs Away?

Neem oil contains Azadirachtin, which is the active agent that repels and kills bugs. It will reduce insect feeding and makes it harder for insects to reproduce. It will also reduce an insect's ability to eat. A mixture of 2 percent neem oil and coconut oil provided 96 to 100 percent protection from one type of mosquito, 85 percent from another and 37.5 percent from another. It showed a efficiency rate that ranged from 61-94 percent on a fourth type of mosquito, according to a National Center for Biotechnology Information study.

Is Neem Oil Dangerous to Humans?

Neem oil is nearly non-toxic to birds, mammals, bees and plants. Neem oil is slightly toxic to fish and other aquatic species, according to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University's Extension Services.

Related video: Find out why you shouldn't kill a house centipede or a spider.

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