We love summer & the great outdoors. But with the sweet, comes the bitter. Bugs! Mosquitos, horse flies. All those critters you forgot about through the chilly winter.
So what do you do? Lather yourself & your children with Deet or other toxins? Not necessarily. Many commercial products contain Deet and other possibly harmful chemicals.
Some bugs are even developing a tolerance to Deet. Before you know it, they’ll be craving the stuff & the best place to find it will be on your skin!
We’ve found some safe options.
David Suzuki’s Home-Made Remedies
One of the simplest repellents is good old plain white vinegar. You just spray it on but you do have to reapply often. I haven’t tried this one yet. I wonder if you’ll smell like fish and chips after hiking for a bit. I’m not sure it matters because, first of all, insect repellents usually stink. Manufacturers try to cover it up with fragrance but you still end up smelling & feeling like toxic chemicals.
Citronella & Essential Bug Oil Spray
Another repellent you could try is an essential bug oil spray. One of the ingredients is lemongrass, a beautiful fragrance.
Suzuki has also included a recipe for homemade citronella candles. It blends beeswax, a biodegradable, renewable product, with citronella essential oil.
Suzuki’s Essential Oil Bug Spray
9 drops peppermint essential oil
9 drops lemongrass essential oil
1 tablespoon grain alcohol (vodka)
¼ cup spring water
1 ounce grain alcohol (vodka)
6 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil
3 drops citronella essential oil
Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Let mellow for a few days, allowing the essential oils to blend. Spray on skin as needed or use as room spray (around windows and doors) to keep mosquitoes away.
Combine ingredients in spray bottle. Make this a few days before heading camping or hiking! The longer you can let it mellow, the more effective it will be.
David Suzuki’s recipe for Herbal Insect Repellent includes a list of essential oils you can use in a variety of combinations. Here are a few others you might like to try:
- Citronella Oil
- Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- Castor Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Lemongrass Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Clove Oil
- Geranium Oil
- Possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic
More Bug Bite Prevention
The best prevention is to keep skin covered, if possible. This is the best solution for children & pregnant or nursing mothers since using repellents is more of a concern for these groups. Wear long sleeves and pants. Wear light-coloured clothing as dark clothing attracts mosquitoes. Remove standing water from your yard or locate your campsite away from standing water, if possible.
Carbon dioxide also attracts mosquitoes and that’s exactly what you exhale when you are breathing. You can’t do much about that but you can divert attention away from you or your children’s breath by burning candles. They also produce carbon dioxide.
I’m sure there are other great solutions and recipes out there.
What do you do to prevent or treat bugs bites?