When customers asked her to come up with a tick spray, South Berwick herbalist Jane Brekke — who also makes herbal teas, aromatherapy mists, and more — understood the need. “I’ve had Lyme disease,” she says. “I needed to make sure I was using something that worked well and that was safe for my young daughter.” Her Tick Spray blends rose geranium, lemon eucalyptus, and cedar essential oils and is safe for skin and clothes. 4 oz., $17. 207-205-5091.
Our tester said: “Isn’t greasy and dries quickly after applying, but the smell lingers. I started using it late last summer and never found a tick.” Scent: 4 Effectiveness: 4 Longevity: 3
Besides their Be Gone Bug Spray, this Greenville-based outfit turns out pretty soaps, candles, lotions, and more. Citronella is the active ingredient, complemented by cinnamon and orange essential oils, less common in other sprays, that give a warm, citrusy aroma. 2 oz., $7. 207-695-3926.
Our tester said: “I used this on every hike last summer and bugs never bothered me. I love the subtle notes of cinnamon and orange, although the smell of vinegar seems to outlast the other ingredients.” Scent: 4 Effectiveness: 4 Longevity: 2
When north-woods–loving pals Lou Demers and Matt Dubois got attacked by mosquitoes on a camping trip 10 years ago, they slathered on cedar essential oil. When it worked, they set out making Maine Woods Bug Dope, with cedar oil as the main ingredient, which the pair says “neutralizes the carbon-dioxide signature” that attracts flying insects to humans. 2 oz., $8.50. 207-329-4138.
Our tester said: “I felt totally protected from mosquitoes. Doused myself at my son’s early-evening Little League game, and other parents commented that I smelled like flowers.” Scent: 5 Effectiveness: 4 Longevity: 3
Sisters Heather Peel and Crystal Hamlin came up with Flick the Tick’s formula back in 2017 to keep ticks off their kids. Within a year, their Fayette-based operation was making 1,000 bottles a day. Fans say the blend of cedar, citronella, and other essential oils keeps away mosquitoes, sand fleas, blackflies, and horseflies too. 4 oz., $11. 207-500-2040.
Our tester said: “My family used this spray on camping trips, and it worked great (no ticks!), except for one trip, when we had to follow up with a DEET repellent because the mosquitoes were swarming.” Scent: 4 Effectiveness: 4 Longevity: 2
The catnip, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, and cedar used in Rooted Earth’s Insect Repellent are either grown on the eponymous 5-acre Casco farm, wild-harvested, or sourced from other organic farms. The herbs are infused in castor, hemp seed, and other oils, meant to leave skin feeling hydrated and soft. 2 oz., $13.
Our tester said: “I’m a skeptic of natural bug sprays and only use DEET. But this smells nice and is comfortable on my skin. I throw it on when I’m on my porch, and it does the trick.” Scent: 4 Effectiveness: 3 Longevity: 4
Winthrop’s Kristin Mutchler makes everything from vegan eyelash-growth serum to beeswax body balms to natural deodorants. Her Tick and Bug Spray starts with classic anti-insect essential oils like cedar, citronella, and peppermint, then uses sesame and almond oils to dilute them. “I’ve yet to get a tick in the seven years I’ve lived here,” she says. 4 oz., $13. 207-242-9084.
Our tester said: “Unlike other sprays that evaporate quickly, the oils in this spray seem to cling to your skin and clothes a lot longer.” Scent: 3 Effectiveness: 4 Longevity: 5