Aside from keeping a pet lizard on your shoulder and at your feet to snap at mosquitoes as they buzz by, I thought you might appreciate some insight on a few earth-friendly and non-toxic insect repellent options.
To many, biting insects are the very definition of annoying. Plus, mosquitoes and ticks can sometimes carry diseases, from Lyme disease to West Nile virus. Long clothes can certainly help, but that's not always an option in the heat of summer. The active ingredient in most bug sprays, N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or DEET, has been shown to be effective, but it has also come under fire in recent years by health researchers. DEET has been found to impede cognition in some animal studies. Plus, some people find that DEET-based repellents have a harsh, chemical smell and feel. Many families are looking for more natural alternatives, which can be made from plant oils like citronella, lemongrass, peppermint and cedarwood. For example, California Baby's sprays are designed to soothe existing bites while repelling fleas, mosquitoes, ticks and biting flies -- all with pleasant smelling (and sustainably harvested) essential plant oils.
Do note that most natural bug repellents must be refreshed more often than DEET-based products, because they aren't quite as long lasting.
Read more, and find out which products make their list, at TheDailyGreen.com.
One product that didn't make The Daily Green's list, one that I tested this past weekend, is from The Body Shop. Now, they don't advertise their Satsuma Body Butter as a natural insect repellent, but I'm here to tell you that it works. My husband and I both slathered on the orange-scented lotion before a neighborhood barbecue this weekend. I heard other people complain about bug bites and I heard mosquitoes zizz by. I even saw a very full-looking mosquito on a table near my arm at one point. But, I'm happy to say that neither of us were bitten one single time.
The Body Shop's lotion sure beats getting sprayed down with DEET, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists as "the active ingredient in many insect repellent products" ... and it smells better, too.
But, according to the EPA's fact sheet on DEET, it's a relatively safe substance ... even though the chemical has a past association with seizures and deaths in humans and a 2009 study links it to central nervous system malfunctions.
If you do use DEET-based products, be sure to keep it out of your all orifices and out of our water supply. Also try not to apply it directly to your skin, and if you do wash it off ASAP.
For those of you, like me, who would prefer to be DEET-free, there are several options available to you (as the above article attests). But before you drench you and your family in any bug repellent, do your homework. Even products with all natural ingredients can be harmful to young children.
Here are a few organic pest control tips for your garden: