DIY Yarrow Bug Repellant Roll On

We are having a really bad year for mosquitoes here in the Pemberton valley this summer, and even though I tend to suffer less from bug bites than my husband does I am covered in them this year. I’ve had to get serious about applying bug spray whenever I head out to the garden and am now carrying a roll-on of repellant with me everywhere I go. I shared a recipe for a strong spray that uses yarrow and neem oil earlier in the season which is my go-to for full days outdoors – though it does not smell great so it is not your best choice for a bbq party or sitting on a patio with friends.

The recipe I want to share today is for a roll-on using yarrow-infused oil as its base. Yarrow is the key ingredient in this roll-on as it is a stellar bug repellant, but I’ve also added catnip and lemon eucalyptus which are also excellent for keeping bugs at bay. The addition of geranium and lavender adds an extra boost to the blend while also softening the scent. This is a bug repellant you won’t mind re-applying often as it has a clean and bitter smell that is refreshing in the summer heat.

I’ve shared the recipe in two ways, one which is quick and easy and uses a carrier oil of your own choice, along with a second recipe that takes a bit longer to make as it includes yarrow infused oil to use as the base.  If you do not have yarrow growing near you or can’t purchase the dried flowers from a local herb shop feel free to skip the infused oil part of the recipe as the essential oils are strong enough on their own and do the bulk of the bug repelling.

This recipe uses a 5% dilution rate which is strong and so please do not use this on children under five years old.


  • 1/2 ounce carrier oil of choice ( grapeseed, fractionated coconut, or almond oil)
  • 4 drops yarrow essential oil
  • 4 drops catnip essential oil
  •  3 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  •  2 drops lavender essential oil
  •  2 drops geranium essential oil

Directions: Quick Recipe

Add the essential oils to the rollerball first and then top with your chosen carrier oil. Seal tight, label, and apply liberally to exposed skin before going out.

Making Yarrow Infused Oil: Heat Method

Fill a clean jar 3/4 full with dried yarrow flowers and cover with grapeseed oil (or carrier oil of choice). Put the jar in a hot water bath on the stove and turn on low heat. Gently warm the oil using the double boiler method for 3-6 hours. You will need to keep an eye on it to ensure the water is topped up. If you have to leave the house just turn it off as it will continue steeping. The oil should be warm to the touch but not hot. After 3-6 hours strain your oil off and store it in a clean jar. Follow the recipe above using the yarrow oil as the base. Have fun with this!

If you want more recipes for summer wellness be sure to check out my Summer Wisdom Online Workshop, it includes 90 minutes worth of video/audio teachings, 2 short yoga practices for am & pm, pdf handouts and a bunch of kitchen medicine recipes.