Thursday, June 12, 2014

Natural Bug Repellants

As the weather warms up and we find ourselves outside more, we might also find ourselves cutting that outside time short because of pesky bugs.  Besides being annoying and causing a harrassing itch, mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects can carry disease. By following these simple tips, you can safely and naturally repel bugs from your yard and home, or anywhere you may go, all summer long.

The first thought you have when working to keep bugs away is to simply apply a bug spray, however more studies are coming out warning us of a chemical called DEET that is commonly used in many sprays on the market.  DEET is an insecticide that can affect the nervous system and is very toxic to birds and aquatic life.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do not use products containing DEET on children under the age of 2 months, and limiting the application of DEET on children over 2 months to one time a day.  Washing your and your children's hands after application is also highly recommended, as is washing your child's body after you return inside.

If you are still interested in using a spray, spray pump bottles are recommended over aerosol cans, according to WebMD, as less inhalation of chemicals will result from the spray pump.  There are a wide range of products out that are DEET free, many made by baby specific companies, like the ones below.
Top Row-California Baby, Badger Balm, Honest Company, Bite Blocker; Bottom Row-Babyganics, Burt's Bees
You can also make your own homemade, DEET free spray, by mixing essential oils that naturally repel insects like lavender, citronella, and clove.  Wellness Mama has some great recipes as does The Prairie Homestead, on how to make your own bug sprays.

If you find that you have a lot of mosquitoes around your yard, try planting some different herbs like mint, and rosemary or other foliage like lemongrass and marigolds, that serve double duty by adding pretty color and keeping pests away.  One Kings Lane gives some other great examples of colorful plants to choose from. 

You say you don't have a green thumb?  Simply eliminating standing water (mosquitoes thrive with even a quarter inch of water) from bird baths, gutters, or potted plants will help reduce the number of creatures from your yard.  Fans also help keep bugs at bay as they wind they create is too powerful for their little wings to navigate through.

And if you find that you're going to be ankle or knee high in plants, say because you're hiking or cutting an overgrown lawn...then long pants and long sleeves are your best bet.  Just wait until dusk or later to avoid overheating.

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