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Natural Bug Spray Review: Wildthings Natural Insect Repellent

Wildthings Natural Insect Repellent
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Ease of Application
  • Scent
  • Kid Safe
  • Effective


UPDATE 2023: We were SO sad to hear that Wildthings is not going to be sold online anymore as of October 2023. 🙁 🙁

There are still some of the 3-packs left on their site at a steep discount, but once all is gone, it’s gone!

WildThings Natural Bug RepellentPrice: $12.99 for 2.7 oz. ($4.80/oz.) or save on a 3-pack; $15.99 for 2 oz ($8/oz) for Wildthings Extreme

Where to Purchase: Wildthings

Active Ingredients: Essential oils of citronella, geranium, catmint, and lavender/orange (depending on scent chosen)

Safety Notes: None.

Other Ingredients: Purified spring water, witch hazel

Easy to use? Very! It sprays a nice, thin mist and easily covers everyone.

Sticky? Nope.

How does it smell? I really like it. A friend even commented, “Wow, your bug spray actually smells good instead of gross!”

Did it prevent mosquito bites? Yes! We had multiple positive experiences with this insect repellent spray, including times when there were clearly biting bugs flying around and bugging us (pun intended), and then they were no longer an issue after spraying on WildThings. They would not land on us.

KS recommends? Absolutely my highest recommendation. We’ve defaulted to using this brand (we have a few of the scents) all summer long and I couldn’t be happier with it, both in ease of use and effectiveness.

PLUS the brand also has an oil-based repellent, which is of course one more step to apply, but perhaps because the oils are distributed so evenly or coating thicker, it’s even more effective (they call it “extreme”).

In fact, I heard from the founder about their USDA bug repellent tests, and this is SO interesting to me:

We did get our results back from USDA, and they were great! Although it was very frustrating to me to see that their entire focus is on whether repellents last 6 hours with not a single bite, which DEET manages to pull off some of the time (although DEET did not last quite 6 hours in our set of tests, interestingly).

Our new oil-based “Wildthings Extreme” was off the charts for natural bug repellents, getting to almost 5 hours of total repellency in a cage of 200 starving Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes (those are the bad ones that carry malaria, Z ika, yellow fever – found mostly in the southern US, but creeping north at an alarming rate). The USDA scientists were very excited!

But I was nonetheless annoyed that the gold standard was a very random 6 hours with no bites, and NOT: repels bugs incredibly well for 2 hours and doesn’t poison you or melt your plastics, and is safe for children!! Seems like that would be a more important criteria.

And as we are told to re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours, why not bug-spray? So I was very happy with all the results, which showed our different potions to be very effective, albeit for different lengths of time… but our personal experience had been telling that anyways 🙂

We still use just the water-based spray most of the time because I love the easy application and the smell. Have only resorted to the oil-based Extreme once – last weekend – in the worst of swarms while camping on [the coast of Maryland]. It did great – no bites even on on bare legs and arms. We outlasted even the heartiest of the fishermen on the beach that evening, who had all been set up for night fishing but they cleared out in a hurry once the mosquitoes arrived… but the bugs were too thick to even see, even if we weren’t getting bit – truly annoying, so we headed for less buggy territory for the night after all.

We’ve been working on some new products, and I’m delighted to have almost entirely organic oils (all but the catnip) for our ingredients now. We are hoping to begin distilling our own catnip/catmint oil sometime in the next year so that we can have quality control over that key (and most expensive) of the ingredients.

from Monica, emphasis mine

Ticks too? Yes! From Monica:

“YES! Wildthings works great for ticks as well… we haven’t had any USDA testing on Wildthings yet, but there are quite a few studies showing it is extremely effective in repelling ticks as well as mosquitoes! We’ve used it very successfully against ticks in tick-infested areas… we had a week-long camping trip to Bear Island, NC last year and were warned about the ticks there, and they were indeed out in force. But we did not get a single tick our whole camping trip.
We also had the opportunity to do some basic (albeit unscientific) tests on ticks we encountered, drawing a “boundary line” with our Wildthings potion and watching in delight as the ticks approached the line and turned and literally fled – quickly! Very cool to see. Here is a creeeepy video on Instagram of a tick jumping off someone’s leg because of Wildthings!!! When we drew a circle around one, it wouldn’t leave the circle and kept trying to get away from the Wildthings potion.
There are quite a few studies showing catnip oil and geranium oil are extremely effective in repelling ticks as well as moquitoes. These are our two main ingredients. Here is a link to one study.
This is very wordy and scientific (link no longer available), but the bottom of page 112 has a “summary” that indicates catnip oil as a repellent, and also, very interestingly, says that basic catnip oil works better than any of the extractions scientists have done of the “active components” like nepetalactone. They don’t know why, but they are still unable to pull out the chemical components and get the same results as they do with the natural product. The natural product actually works better! In addition to being good for you in many other ways. 
That said, I am hoping to put a stronger spray on the website specifically for ticks (probably stronger smelling than you’d want on the rest of your body, but great for shoes, socks, lower legs when tromping through tick country. The Wildthings Extreme is fantastic for ticks, but is oil-based so not good on clothing. GREAT on skin though.”

I’m super impressed with Wildthings year after year, and I really want to see scientists do more studies with catnip, especially some with human arms and within a formula like this one. We know it works, now let’s get some data!!

Note: one September when the mosquitoes were exceptionally bad, like everyone was talking about it and it was in the news bad, we tried four bug sprays on my little boys playing outside. The first three failed miserably (including regular Wild Things!), but Wildthings Extreme, a completely oil-based version that you have to rub on your skin, finally was a success! It really is stronger…


  • Kid-safe
  • Effective, especially the Wildthings Extreme
  • Wonderful scent


  • None
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