No-See-Ums Shield Bug Spray

In Florida, the two most prevalent afflictions are sunburns and bug bites. One, you acquire through being outside in the sun too much, and the other is acquired at any time you try to avoid the sun. The mosquitoes are merciless at dawn and dusk. They are bred and born in the numerous, man-made, drainage lakes that prevent southern and central Florida from turning altogether into swampland. Aside from the mosquitoes, biting flies, and fire ants, there are ‘No-See-Ums.’ When I first heard a native Floridian say the word, I walked around calling the miniscule, biting bugs (smaller than fruit flies), ‘Nah-zee-ums,’ (as in ag-nosium), thinking I had just picked up a new specie-specific insect name- Not so. Ceratopogonidae, biting midges, and/or No-See-Ums, terrorize hunters, fishermen, campers, picnickers, hikers, gardeners, walkers, and anyone who just wants to stand outside in the shade. Popular bug sprays and citronella are sometimes not strong enough, and are ridiculously expensive when considering how much you need to reapply in Florida.

All the natural and homemade recipes I found are comprised of two basic components: A carrier, acidic liquid, vodka, rubbing alcohol, apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, Listerine, etc. Plus, a list of strongly aromatic essential oils such as, citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, cedar, pine, lavender, or rosemary. I tried a few different mixes, and the no-see-ums would not yield! After three different combinations, I found a mix that is strong and not (nauseously) caustic-smelling.

• Witch Hazel
• Listerine
• Tea Tree Oil

I bought a handful of spray bottles at the dollar store to give as gifts before our annual group bike-ride that ends in a picnic across town. Start by mixing together two parts witch hazel to one part Listerine. Next, add 10 drops of tea tree oil per cup of your desired amount.

This mix is not harmful if you spray it in your hair, on your clothes, or accidentally in your mouth (not to mention, tragically, on your food). However, be sure to close your eyes, spray your face, and wipe away drips before opening them again. Dress the bottles with your own message, spray all over your body, and go outside to play!

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Zoe (78 Posts)

Zoe is born and bred in Portland, Oregon and recently moved to Orlando, Florida. She studied sociology and philosophy at University of Oregon, and is currently employed at a law firm. Presently, she devotes her time to being lost in the tropical vegetation of her backyard, sun-scorched bike rides, repurposing everything she can think of, quirky cooking, and promoting the creative lifestyle that she loves.


  1. Nikki says

    Thank you Thank you, I have been getting eatin alive here in Flagstaff, AZ. I have tried everything, i thought i had bed bugs.. i even threw my bed away!! (cool story bro) anyway, I am headed to the store right now and and I am praying your method works! this has been going on for 6 months and i can’t take it anymore.

  2. Zoe says

    I feel for you Nikki! Another trick I learned from living in the sunshine state is to wear a heavily scented fabric-softener sheet tucked just about everywhere– but that’s just a practical tool, not so much a gift. Let me know how it works for you!

  3. barbara says

    OMG….if this works I will be forever indebted to you. NO ONE else gets bitten, but the No-See-Ums and Mosquitos eat me alive. I can go walk in the evening, and bugs will still be biting after I am home. I cannot wait to try this. thanks so much.

  4. Dar says

    Curious to hear everyone’s results. I plan on picking up the necessary tools and making a batch this weekend. Any helpful tips on what to do or products that soothe when you are already eaten alive? I have about 40 bites all over me and I have had enough! :) Thanks ladies.

    • Judith Dickson says

      I had problems with the bites when I first moved to Florida. After a lot of research and testing of several products, I found out that lavender oil kills the toxins in the bite from the no seeums. The best products I found areNew Nouveau’s the Healing Garden. A shower with their tube of Tender Lavender Cleansing Body Wash followed by their hand cream work wonders after an excursion outside. Check out

      • Linda Doyle says

        What hand cream are you referring to on the healing website? We just moved to SW Florida and I also look like I have the measles and can’t believe the itching. I don’t go outside any more.

  5. Maria says

    I don’t know what’s biting me. I saw very tiny black bugs but I think it’s NOSEEUMS. They bite me everywhere and anytime. PLEASE HELP! :( IT’s been almost 2 months now.

    • Zoe says

      What I love most about this mix is that there isn’t too much measuring. Pick your spray bottle. Use two parts witch Hazel to one part Listerine, then 10 drops of Tea Tree oil! Enjoy!! Works like a charm for Central Florida!!


  6. b j says

    Zoe, thanks for this spray you can make at home….awesome! Something jumps on both me and my dog whenever we go outside….not sure what it is because I can’t see anything. Might be the no-see-ums everyone is taking about? When my dog comes in from outside, he is just going crazy scratching….and I have several bites myself. Would this spray you make be safe to use on my 8# dog? When I spray something on him, of course he licks it all off until he thinks he’s clean again!! So just want to get your opinion as to whether it is safe for him to ingest. Thanks so much!

    • Zoe says

      Wellllll, I’m no vet. After doing a general search, it looks like witch hazel can be unsafe for dogs in large portion. Additionally, as with most things, it depends on the size of your dog. Maybe start with just a spray, and see if your dog shows signs of lethargy/illness! I hope that helps!

  7. no see ums repellent says

    if you do get bit, try putting scotch tape or nail polish over the bite. it should prevent it from itching!

  8. Jenn says

    The spray is great, but what do you during open window season? No-see-ums are small enough to enter the house through normal window screens. I’ve read that Rosemary plants are good repellent. The bugs in Florida is one of the things that I hate with the fire of a thousand suns. lol

    • Zoe says

      This is a weirdo old-wives tale, but I’ve heard that if you line your windows with strong smelling dryer sheets, it helps tremendously! Good Luck and definitely choose a scent that you’ll enjoy coming in with the breeze!

  9. Doris Holtz says

    At my last visit in Fort Myers Beach I got almost eaten up by No-See-Ums within 14 days. These creatures are in my residence and on the whole property – just everywhere. After 8 weeks being back in Canada I still have the itchy red spots all over arms, legs and body (lying outside in a bikini). Help !!! How can I keep them away ?.

  10. Deanna Hansen says

    I tried this in a two oz. bottle, 8drops tea tree oil, 1 part listerine (generic which had the same amt of alcohol) and 2 parts which hazel. I was still getting bit and they are not even bad right now. :( I live next to the mangroves near the gulf. Can someone help?

  11. Zoe says

    To address the proportions- it’s always best to test the amount in your mixture on your skin PRIOR to going outside. For sensitive skin, there are amounts of tea tree oil that can irritate you. However, from my own personal experience, upping the fragrance of your spray is the MOST important component- whether that be with tea tree oil, or listerine. Also, to those in dire need, I’ve been known to tuck fabric softener sheets in my pockets and shoes, to further ward off these rude little bugs. I’m sorry for your troubles friends, but it’s good to know I’m not alone!

  12. Karen says

    Thanks for this! I live in the northeast near the beach and the other night my husband and I were getting bit up by these nasty little bugs. I just mixed up a batch (I added Polysorbate 20 to disperse the oil into the witch hazel and Listerine). I sure hope this works!

  13. Cindy says

    I need to hear from just one person who used the mixture and achieved results. I am having company for 4th of July and promised BBQ cookout and the noseeums are preventing the use of my back yard. It is at the plague of Egypt level of torture so massive you cannot be outside for even a second – does this stuff work or not? Someone please post.

  14. jeannie says

    I have found this spray helps much but not completely and probably need to respray self at intervals. I have even sprayed on the window screens but that seems to work at times…don’t grow anything with dirt in the house and then keep your windows open. I don’t have too many problems with noseeums in the house, just a few at times probably when they are out in full force (after rain?)…I live in naples, fl.

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