Bug-grrr Off

A Q&A with Monique McEwan, founder of Bug-grrr Off

Wellbeing speaks to Monique McEwan, founder of Bug-grrr Off, a natural Australian-made insect repellant that’s safe and effective for you and your family.

How did Bug-grrr Off come to be and what was your initial vision for the brand?

The inspiration for a natural insect repellent came whilst on a family holiday in Bali when a natural insect repellent was placed on a table at dinner. Knowing that natural products are safer for your skin and your family, we wanted to create an Australian version that was free from nasty chemicals, effective, safe for the whole family and that smelt great.

Our daughter came up with the brand name, Bug-grrr Off, a great Australian saying. I designed the logo and bottle graphics and my husband researched the active ingredient and formulated the products.

We tested our products on the local mosquitoes and other blood-sucking nasties at home in Ferny Creek, Victoria, on the edge of Sherbrooke Forest, and received genuinely effective results.

 Can you tell us about your hero ingredient, oil of lemon eucalyptus?

Bug-grrr Off is the only Australian-made insect repellent that uses the natural active ingredient Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE).

OLE is the most effective, scientifically proven natural compound available for protection against biting insects. It is also the only natural extract recommended by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to repel mosquitoes.

Field trials have shown effective protection on a large variety of biting insects such as mosquitoes, black flies, stable flies, sand flies and midges for up to six hours and ticks and leeches for up to four hours.

With (OLE) as the active ingredient in Bug-grrr Off, your family is protected from biting insects without exposure to an array of volatile and potentially toxic chemicals. The ingredients in Bug–grrr Off do not poison the insects. The powerful natural extract makes  you and your family virtually invisible to the insects’ senses.

What are some of the harmful toxins that can be found in commercial insect repellent products? Why should we avoid these additives?

DEET is the most common harmful active ingredient found in many insect repellents. It is a manmade chemical that has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. It is a behaviour-modifying chemical which also inhibits the activity of acetylcholinesterase, a key central nervous system enzyme in both insects and humans. It has been proven that people with extensive DEET exposure are more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function.

A common health warning on all DEET-based insect repellent bottles state they: “May be dangerous, particularly to children, if you use large amounts on the skin, clothes or bedding or on large areas of the body, especially if you keep using it for a long time.”

DEET is also an effective solvent and may dissolve some plastics, rayon, spandex, and other synthetic fabrics and painted or varnished surfaces, including nail polish.

Who are your products suitable for?

Bug-grrr Off is suitable for anyone who is looking for a natural alternative to synthetic insect repellents. Bug-grrr Off is Australian owned and made, 100 per cent natural, vegan, palm-free, DEET-free and not tested on animals.

It is suitable for the whole family. Children under the age of 12 months should be patch tested under their wrist before application. We advise applying a small amount of the product on your own hand and then rubbing it gently onto your infant.

It is safe to use during pregnancy and safe to spray on clothing.

Where do you source your ingredients?

Our products are 100 per cent Australian owned and Australian made. The ingredients are sourced locally where possible.

 What are your top tips for leading a healthy, happy life?

 Using Bug-grrr Off!

Smile as often as possible.

Put your health and happiness first.

Create a healthy work-life balance.

Don’t sweat the small things, and keep everything in perspective.

Take time to smell the roses and appreciate the good things in your life.

Make sure you eat well and take the time to exercise.

 What’s next for Bug-grrr Off?

To educate more consumers on the harmful side-effects of synthetic brands and promote our brand as a healthier, effective natural Australian solution that achieves the same results as those DEET-using brands at a lower cost to your wellbeing and the environment.

We also wish to increase our product offering over the next few years, expanding into more stores, and close the door on those pesky blood-sucking nasties.

We have a new roll-on insect repellent formulation in stability trials which we hope to have available next summer.


Sophie Flecknoe

Sophie Flecknoe

Sophie Flecknoe surrounds herself with good food and good company and is deeply interested in health, travel and style. She also has two cheeky cavoodles named Maggie and Cherry.

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