Summer Health

Bug Off: 8 Natural Insect Repellants

Feel that burn followed by the oh-so-annoying itch?  Mosquitoes are about and they’re hungry for your blood.

If you happen to be a skeeter magnet, you can protect your body from becoming an all-you-can-eat bug buffet by using these eight natural insect repelling tips…

1. Wear Bug Repellent

You might sport cologne or eau de toilet to a picnic or barbecue so you don’t scare your friends away. However, you’re actually encouraging mosquitoes who are drawn to perfumed products. You don’t have to wear chemically laden bug repellants when natural ingredients—like eucalyptus, geraniol, lemon, or soybean oil—can effectively help discourage bug bites.


2. Burn, Burn, Burn

Likewise throwing a little herbal remedy into your campfire in the form of dried lavender or mugwort will help keep mosquitoes at bay. You can also set up citronella or geraniol candles around the perimeter to extend your insect-free zone.


3. Dress in Light Colored, Baggy Clothes

A pair of sweat pants and a baggy sweater might be just the comfort level you’re going for around the campfire. Good thing, because mosquitoes will easily bite you through tight clothing. If you dress in loose, light colors it will also be easier to spot skeeters against your attire.


4. Nix the Sugar and Caffeine

I know that s’mores are a popular campfire treat for the big and little kids, but chocolate is full of two things that make you a mosquito target—sugar and caffeine!  Both ingredients increase your metabolism, and thus, your levels of lactic acid and carbon dioxide, which are how bugs find you (each time you exhale). So nix any campfire fare that features sugar and caffeine if you want to avoid bug bites.


5. Mosquito Netting

I know it’s summer and the temptation to eat, read, and even sleep outside is strong. However, you can still hang out alfresco with bug protection if you use bug screens or mosquito netting. You can also erect a screened in dining tent and sleep under a mosquito net to extend your outdoor time—without becoming a mosquito smorgasbord.


6. Herbal Bug Deterrents

Just because you’re anti-DEET (or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, the oil used in insect repellents) doesn’t mean you have to put up with annoying bug bites all summer long. A few fresh herbs will do their part to deter skeeters. Try rubbing fresh mint, basil, or geranium directly onto your skin and clothing (if you’re not allergic) to shun mosquitoes. The natural oils have been shown to discourage bug bites.


7. Remove Stagnant Water Sources

Sources of stagnant or sill water, such as birdbaths, still ponds, rain barrels, large puddles, and kid’s pools will draw bugs near. Standing water is where bugs, like mosquitoes, breed, which is why removing, draining, or covering them will deter bugs from gathering and continuing to repopulate.


8. Nursing Bug Bites

Did you know that mosquito bites itch so much because of the saliva residue left behind by the bug bite? Luckily, there are plenty of herbal remedies to reduce the itch and inflammation. For instance, tea tree, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, cedar oil, lavender, and witch hazel diluted with a bit of water will soothe bites, as will a dab of baking soda mixed with water (try a 3 to 1 mix). A dab of local, raw honey will likewise soothe itch and prevent infection.

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