Summer is in full swing! It is the time of playing outside, gardening, camping, and barbecuing. The extra hours of sunlight make social gatherings that much more fun, but unfortunately some uninvited guests like to join the party, too.
What are these pesky guests? Bugs.
There are good reasons to repel things like mosquitoes and ticks — the former can transmit West Nile Virus and the latter can carry Lyme disease. When I grew up, my mother always bought bug repellent from the store, but I hated it for the nasty smell and the chemicals that lingered in my nose.
Most commercial bug repellents contain DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), a chemical originally created by the United States Army after their experiences in the jungles during World War II. It was tested first as a pesticide on farm fields, then used by the troops, and finally sold commercially in 1957.
Just the fact that DEET was first tested as a pesticide on farm fields should tell you that it is not something you want on your body. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises caution when using products containing DEET, saying to apply only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Once indoors again, they recommend washing skin with soap and water, and advise against applying repellents to children's hands since they often touch their mouths and eyes. It makes you think, doesn't it?
DEET has also been known to be an effective solvent which may dissolve some plastics and synthetic fabrics. There have been some cases of recorded death, seizures, slurred speech, coma and other serious side effects.
It's best to just stay away from DEET altogether.
But what should we do instead? I am so happy we have an amazing God who created plants that naturally deter bugs! I have started making my own bug spray. I use essential oils since they are easy, effective, and ready for use immediately — unlike herbs, which need a few weeks to steep.
Making your own bug spray is a breeze when you use essential oils. You need a dark glass spray bottle, essential oils, witch hazel, and distilled water — and that's it! Here are a few bug-repelling essential oils.
- lemongrass (may attract bees)
- tea tree (melaleuca)
- Add the essential oils of your choice directly to the bottle.
- Then pour in the witch hazel and water.
- Screw on the lid and store in a dark place until ready to use.
- Shake the bottle well before applying.
- Use as often as needed.
Have you used a natural bug repellent before? What oils did you choose? How did it work?
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