Foods to eat to repel bugs

So we’ve covered some of the plants you can grow in your garden or house to help repel bugs among other things, but we haven’t talked about foods you can eat to keep those pesky insects away. You probably know a couple of vegetables that will do the job nicely, but we were surprised by a few of the suggestions we found. We also found some foods to avoid and a couple of links to share for effective, natural home remedies for bug repelling

One thing worth noting - you can’t just go to your refrigerator and take a bite or sip of one of these foods and expect to walk outside and repel insects. Since the food needs to be digested and passed through your system, some pre-planning is involved. If you’re having a BBQ, a few hours may be all you need. If you’re going camping for the weekend, you may want to start eating bug repelling foods a few days before you go, so you can build up some of those chemicals that the insects seem to hate. 

So let's start with what to eat to keep insects away.

  • Onions and Garlic - We bet none of you are surprised to see these at the top of the list. They contain a chemical called allicin that is known to repel bugs. For the best results you should eat these raw. Maybe have some mouthwash handy. 
  • Grapefruit and Orange - Citrus fruits contain a chemical compound called nootkatone and while this may be your first time hearing of it, it is very effective at repelling insects. Grapefruit has the highest levels of this wonderful compound, but orange or lemon work too. 
  • Lemongrass - Lemongrass contains an oil similar to citronella that helps ward off creepy crawlies. Which is just another good reason to add a shot to your next energy drink or to try out that Coconut curry recipe
  • Chili peppers - We want to believe this, but eating peppers didn’t seem to help in Texas at all. Either that or it did and it could have been much worse, which is terrifying. At any rate hot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin that insects seem to prefer to avoid. 

  • Beans, Lentils, or vegemite - Beans and lentils are rich in vitamin B1, also known as thiamine. It has a yeasty scent that bugs do not love. You can also find high amounts of B1 in tomatoes, marmite, and vegemite. 
  • Apple cider vinegar - OK, so there’s not a ton of science backing this one up, but people have been using it for years and swear by it. You can ingest small amounts (like a tablespoon) or you can dilute apple cider vinegar with water and make a bug repelling spray. 

Speaking of sprays, you don’t have to eat all of these foods to enjoy their bug repellant benefits. There are all kinds of concoctions and recipes on the internet but we know you can use lemongrass, onion, and apple cider vinegar topically. Vanilla also works as do citrus peels. We’d be careful with sweet scents though. You may be using lemon peel to repel mosquitoes only to find that the bees at the coffee shop love citrus. That is why botanical mixes like our Bugs Be Gone insect repelling spray can sometimes be the most effective, because you gain the benefit of different ingredients that all work together to keep insects away. 


Foods that attract bugs

On the flip side there are foods you can avoid eating as well. Insects seem to be attracted to beer drinkers. We’ve been at enough backyard gatherings to know  this is true. Salty foods will build higher levels of lactic acid in your system and that can attract insects too. Now we're thinking if bugs like a good IPA and some potato chips maybe we should be hanging out more, not less. Do you think mosquitoes like the Indigo Girls too? 

 A few more tips and natural remedies for bug repelling

Keeping your outdoor area clean and dry goes a long way towards keeping the insect population minimized and at bay. If you’re going to eat outside, we suggest you keep food covered and consider leaving sweet foods or fresh produce inside until you need them. Insects love sodas and fruit drinks too. So serving water outside and sugary drinks inside will help as well. A little bit of wind or a fan will work wonders and if you have a fire going, toss some fresh herbs on from time to time. Your backyard or campsite will smell great and the bugs hate it. If you’re looking for more ideas, the Family Handy Man has a nice list of natural home remedies for pest control and if you’re battling mosquitoes in particular we found a few tips on apartmentguide.com, of all places, that are all-natural and easy. 


Well that’s our list. What did we miss? Anyone out there have any luck with bananas or milk? Are their foods you eat that always seem to attract the biting bugs? Let us know in the comments. 

2 comments

Thank you for such a helpful, interesting and fun to read article! The idea of what to eat to repel insects is so great and is new to me – our grapefruit tree just got even more useful. (and high five on Indigo Girls :)
Also the Green Goo bug spray was a huge help to us last summer on both the east coast and Rocky Mountains and Prairies – we were with big groups at reunions and anyone wearing your spray was totally fine and everyone else was swarmed (the bugs were really bad). We luckily had taken a bunch of it and once everyone was sprayed it was a much better visit – Thank you!!

Jen July 08, 2020

Great article. I learned A Lot! I hadn’t really thought about what foods we can eat to repel bugs, even though I’m aware of different food for our animals that do. I do love your Bugs Be Gone spray.

Kate July 08, 2020

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