Natural Insect Repellents: Beastly Secrets Against Biting Bugs

Let's face it: some of us are blessed with the gift of fatal attraction. Some people arouse a mere passing interest in mosquitoes. Others of us cause a feeding frenzy. The resulting bites also vary in duration and severity, ranging from a minor itchy bump that lasts a day or so to large inflamed welts that last for days. Since mosquitoes seem to be doing especially well with the whole climate change thing, we're just going to have to learn to live with them. Living with them doesn't mean resigning to their bites or using harmful chemicals to keep them away. There are a variety of safe products and recipes that can help keep the bugs at bay.

    • Use commercial products that are hypo-allergenic and DEET-free

    • Make your own insect repellent using essential oils. I've experimented a good bit with these and have found that some might stain and others might have objectionable odors or cause their own share of itching. The mixture that worked well for me was rosemary oil, neem oil, lavender oil, and citronella oil, diluted in water and sprayed through a mister. As long as it was applied before donning clothing, it worked very well. The same oils can be added to a moisturizer or shampoo you already use--if used in the latter the odor (which is what keeps the bugs away) seems to last especially long because you're not sweating it off.

    • Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's safe for you. Pyrethrum, which is a natural compound derived from the chrysanthemum, is the active ingredient in many treated mosquito nets. It is highly effective but should not be used on clothing, sleeping surfaces, or anything that will be close to your face for a long period of time. People with asthma are particularly sensitive to it, but anyone can develop a reaction to pyrethrum if exposed to it for too long.

    • Isolongifolenone, a natural compound found in the South American Tauroniro tree, has been found to be effective against mosquitoes and ticks. This is good news for those concerned about Lyme disease.

    • Citronella candles really can be effective for outdoor time--just choose soy candles or some other alternative to paraffin candles, which are derived from petroleum and create soot.

    • To alleviate mosquito bites, or any insect bite, try neem powder. Made into a plaster and applied to the site it's a little green and goopy but very good at taking away the itch.

    • Lastly, if you're looking for natural skin products but don't want to spend a lot, "natural" pet products are often made of the same high-quality ingredients as human formulations, but at a fraction of the cost. There is one such skin product, containing neem oil and cedar, which I've found to be effective and refreshing to the skin.

Tags: Bug, Diy, Insect, Outdoors, Recipe, Skin

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