Bug Prevention – the Natural Way
It’s that time of year when we all find ourselves outdoors as much as possible, enjoying the sunshine doing sports, gardening or just sunning away. However, for most of us, we find the pleasure of the outdoors somewhat compromised by our battle with Mother Nature’s little creatures – bugs!
Now there are tons of bug sprays on the market that you can use, but let’s face it – we’re putting chemicals, like DEET, directly on our bodies. There is a better way! Whether you go to a store that puts together essential oils for you, buy a natural product online, or you do it yourself – you can shield your body from attack the natural, non-chemical way!
The DIY Way
This is an easy and inexpensive home project. Your most expensive ingredient will be any essential oils you may purchase, but a little bit goes a long, long way…
All over the internet, you’ll find different recipes for bug spray. Some are water based while others use oil. The water-based formulas may be easier on the clothing, but will require more frequent applications. The oil-based renditions may pose a problem for clothing, but they last longer and provide the skin with the added benefit of a softening agent. There are also ones that add apple cider vinegar, vodka (apply – don’t drink!) or witch hazel.
The one I like the most is reportedly an ancient recipe used in the time of the Black Plague, both internally and externally, to avoid getting the disease and keeping pests away. It just so happens to use my favorite element, apple cider vinegar. If you don’t know the amazing benefits of this simple ingredient, do yourself a favor and check out bragg.com – the brand of choice for the natural (undistilled) organic version, which is worlds apart from your typical grocery story variety.
- 32 ounces, Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 TBLs each of the following dried herbs: sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme and mint
- Pour vinegar into a large glass jar.
- Add herbs and seal tightly.
- Keep sealed and shake once daily for 2-3 weeks.
- Strain liquid to remove herbs and store in bottles in fridge.
- When ready to use, take a spray bottle – preferably glass or PET plastic), and fill half-full with solution and half water.
- Spray away.
- If vinegar is not your thing, try mixing half an 8 ounce bottle with witch hazel, add 40-50 drops of the essential oil of your choice and filling the rest of the way with pure water (bottled or boiled is suggested). The witch hazel is used as an emulsifier to help the essential oils mix better, but you can also use rubbing alcohol or some very cheap vodka.
- Go straight to the source, and simply rub fresh mint, citronella, catnip, basil or lavender directly onto the skin.
One word of caution, essential oils are to be used with extreme care for use on young children, pregnant or nursing mothers. Consult a healthcare practitoner before using.
Not a DIY kinda gal/guy?
There are natural produces available on the market as well. In a study by the US Department of Agriculture, comparing synthetic and natural products, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Pump Spray was found to be the most effective mosquito repellent; even more than DEET. Second on the list was Bite Blocker, containing the oils of geranium, soybean and coconut.
Have other ideas on how to prevent bug bites from ruining your summer experience? Let us know!