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.

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• 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 (64 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. 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.

    • we going on 3 years sold our house moved nothing not even clothes and 1 week later they started up in our new apartment…….. last night we were getting eating up alive by these no seeums . this is terrible …… had so many spray companies but nothing kills them at all . we do not know what to do . The land lords here are very concerned and they have called 3 companies to come over but no luck killing these suckers …… we are Misérable.

  2. 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. 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. 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.

    • 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

      • 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. 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.

    • 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!!


      • What is “1 part” and “2 parts” Witch hazel? Can you please translate that to teaspoon/tablespoon or dropper? I need to make right away so if you could respond ASAP that would be great. Thanks so much.

        • So the formula is pretty basic. But say you are using a small spray bottle then…. 1 ounce listerine, 2 ounce witch hazel. Or for a larger bottle then 2 ounce listerine, 4 ounce witch hazel. Her bottle looks to be about 4-6 ounces so I would go with the second.

  6. 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!

    • 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. 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

    • 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!

  8. 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 ?.

  9. 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?

    • Try using oil, no see ums stick to oil so can’t live on the oil.
      I personally use doTerra Terra Shield spray, it has coconut oil and essential oils. Works brilliantly for no see ums

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Making my third batch tonight. This stuff is awesome. Last summer I had well over 100 bites. This season only a few. One comment though it doesn’t seem to last. Either the product itself loses its potency or I am not re applying often enough. Still all in all a life saver.

    • 2020 going on for 5yrs it’s VERY BAD now inside home, car & everywhere I go I feel erratic flying over face hair mouth legs & back. Nothing seems to kill this stuff, Exterminator don’t have a clue. Its so tinyblack & anoying biting at times. It’s taking over my life. I’m going to try the mixture. I have tried essential oils & Listerine but not with witch hazel combination. There are millions to B made if a formula is found. People are suffering everywhere & hesitant to talk about it because people don’t believe you & think you’re crazy & avoid you. This is a very serious health issue PLEASE HELP & PUSH FOR AN ERADICATION, please publish

      • I am currently trying to live through an infestation of noseeums in my apartment… I live in the Central Valley in California. I too am suffering the stigma of the bites and their after effects… If you need moral support please add me on Facebook… I am Melissa Lee and I am located in the city of Stockton, California. If you need a friend, contact me. I know I could use some that don’t think I am crazy…

  15. I AM doing this! Thank you for your post. I am ‘fresh meat’, just moved to SW Florida. I heard about the bugs and have visited for lengths of time and never really got bit……until last week. It is awful. I am even looking into those yard misting systems. I moved here and love the outdoors. I feel like a prisoner… scared to go out and use the outdoors. I will update this after I use it for awhile. Thank you for posting and trying to help us all!

  16. My first few years in SW Florida was misery because of these nasty little bugs. Swarms would follow me around and I would have bites dripping blood! Anyway, if you’re a resident, over time you will not get the itchy bites anymore. People told me this would happen, and I didn’t believe it, but after a few years I was never bitten again..or maybe I’m still being bitten but not getting a reaction?
    I never found anything other than a coating of a heavy oil, like baby oil, and covering with clothing prevented bites. After exhausting many remedies, I found that a dose of Bendaryl and a liberal amount of over the counter hydrocortisone cream were by far the best.
    I’m going to make this the next time I have out of town guests and spare them some itching 🙂

  17. Wind directions in Florida play a big part, especially any towns near the Everglades. Worst winds are when the winds are coming from directions of Everglades as it brings in those pests. In Florida Keys- watch out when winds come off Everglades from Northwest. Usually much better if winds are coming from East. But over on Gulf side bordering Everglades it will be different

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