Summer time is a joyous time! It’s a time for picnics, family gatherings, and outdoor fun. Unfortunately, these outdoor activities tend to attract lots of bugs – mosquitoes, flies and ticks being some of the most bothersome. And because many of these pests also carry disease, even the most ardent naturalist mom will turn to toxic bug repellents to keep herself and her family safe.
However, most over-the-counter bug repellents contain DEET, which is a poison. It kills bugs, but in small children, it also can cause seizures. It has also been identified as a potential cancer-causing agent. The question is: Are DEET-based repellents the lesser of the two evils or is there a different alternative?
Luckily, there are some natural ways to repel bugs without slathering your child in a toxic substance. As with most natural remedies, a recipe may work great for one person but not for another, so it may be necessary to try several different alternatives before finding the one that works best for you.
Most of the recipes use some type of essential oil. The essential oils that you could use include:
- Cinnamon –mosquitoes
- Citronella –flies, ticks, ants and mosquitoes
- Eucalyptus –mosquitoes, ticks and lice
- Orange or lemon –fleas, ticks,
- Geranium –mosquitoes, ticks and lice
- Lemongrass –mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, ticks, and ants
- Peppermint – mosquitoes, bees and ants
- Tea Tree Oil – ticks and lice
Here are four recipes for non-toxic, natural bug repellent:
1. Bug Repellent Oil:
Mix one cup of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil or coconut oil with 25 drops of essential oils. Mix well and use sparingly over the skin.
2. Bug Repellent Spray #1:
Lay out one tsp of salt on a plate. Add five drops of essential oils and mix well until the oils are absorbed into the salt. Mix with 4 oz of water and shake well. Spray on skin taking care to avoid the sensitive areas around the eyes, nose, and mouth.
3. Bug Repellent Spray #2:
Mix one cup of infused white vinegar with half a cup of water. Spray carefully to avoid contact with eyes, nose, and mouth. Yes, it is stinky and you will smell for awhile, but this recipe is the one I use when hiking and have no problems with ticks, flies, mosquitoes, or those pesky no-see-ums.
*To make infused white vinegar; start with a cup of vinegar. Add a teaspoon each of dried sage, thyme, rosemary, lavender, mint and fresh lemon or lime peels. Let sit for 3-4 weeks. Strain out the herbs and peels.
4. Bug Repellent Cream:
Get a good glob of your favorite lotion. Add several drops of your selected essential oils and spread over your skin. Add a little zinc if you want some sun protection as well.
NOTE: When using essential oils, please be aware that not all oils are safe for young children or pregnant women. It’s important to do some research on which essential oils might be best for you and your family and it’s very important to remember that an overuse of essential oils can burn the skin or cause serious allergic reactions. Use caution and if you have a question about how much to use, start with a lower dosage before moving on to a full dosage.