Mosquitoes, black flies and ticks are just a few of nature's creatures that can be a nuisance to many people who love the outdoors. But sometimes, they can be more than nuisance. West Nile virus, Zika virus and Lyme disease are just a few of the diseases that can be spread by their bites. But don’t hide indoors or douse yourself with commercial insect repellents. Try natural bug protection to outsmart these pests or take the sting out of getting bitten.
Tips to help prevent bug bites this summer
- Wear light-colored clothing that is less attractive to mosquitoes. Many mosquitoes use vision to locate hosts from a distance. Dark clothes and foliage are initial attractants. Light-colored clothing may not attract mosquitoes, and it is also cooler because it reflects light.
- Cover up in loose-fitting, tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, full-length pants and closed shoes.
- When in tick territory, tuck in your shirt and pull your socks over your pant legs. Before going inside, check clothing and exposed skin for ticks.
- Avoid heavily scented soaps, lotion, perfumes or colognes that may attract bugs.
- When taking infants outdoors, cover cribs, playpens and strollers with mosquito netting.
Natural bug repellents
Natural repellents can easily be made by combining some essential oils. Some people are sensitive to the following volatile based oils so always try a test patch, or place it on your clothing instead. Here are some essential oils that, when combined, can be as effective as DEET, and much safer.
- Citronella oil
- Lemon eucalyptus oil (do not use on children under the age of 3)
- Cinnamon oil Castor oil
- Rosemary oil Lemongrass oil
- Cedar oil Peppermint oil
- Clove oil Geranium oil
A combination of two or three of these essential oils is more effective than just one, because of the differences between types of mosquitoes. Here is the recipe I use for my repellent:
- Start with 20 -25 drops total of citronella, lemon, cinnamon and castor oils.
- Add these to 2 Tbsps of a carrier oil such as olive oil, or to witch hazel (for a less greasy experience).
- Mix the essential oils with the carrier oil or witch hazel. Rub or spray the natural insect repellent onto skin or clothing, using care to avoid the sensitive eye area. You'll need to re-apply the natural product after about an hour or after swimming or exercise.
- Unused natural insect repellent can be stored in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight.
If you don't like this combination of essential oils, you can try others until you find what's right for you.
You can also make your property less attractive for mosquitoes and ticks by:
- Removing standing water from around your home.
- Dumping or cleaning standing water from pool covers, wading pools, and bird baths.
- Keeping swimming pools and ornamental ponds aerated.
- Storing flower pots, watering cans, wheelbarrows and wading pools upside down.
- Covering outdoor containers – garbage, recycling, or composting bins – –and rain barrels.
- Cleaning clogged eavestroughs.
- Clearing brush, leaves and tall grass.
- Putting woodpiles in sunny locations.
Have a happy and pest-less summer!
Image from here, with thanks.