There's almost nothing worse than the terrible bug bite and unfortunately summer has a lot of them. Pests come with warm weather and bites come with the chance of disease.
Just like sunscreen, there are risks and benefits of chemical bug sprays
and repellents. Read on to see if the pros outweigh the cons and learn the homeopathic ways to fight back against summer insects.
Last year we interviewed Miss Michigan
about Lyme Disease, a terrible illness that can result from tick bites. Other diseases like West Nile can also be passed from mosquitoes, causing serious health issues. If you live in areas where these insects live, bug spray is no stranger to you.
The CDC recommends DEET bug spray as the number one option. According to the EPA
, it masks our smell, making it harder for biting-bugs to find us. It's been used since 1957 to repel both mosquitoes and tick from passing deadly diseases with little skin reaction.
Because it's so heavy-duty, it comes with side-effects. Most regular users know to hold their breath when applying it because inhaling could cause dizziness and lightheadedness. There's a lot of stipulations to keep consumers from applying too much DEET and keep it out of our internal systems like
Keep it out of cuts or uneven skinWash clothes after using a DEET productDon't apply under clothesWash exposed skin of DEET when no longer exposed to pests
It's also important not to apply DEET directly to the fact to keep from accidentally contacting the eyes or ingesting it. The New York Times
states that swallowing and overexposure to DEET can cause neurological damage like disorientation, clumsiness, seizures and coma that may be severe enough to be fatal.
This isn't your only choice though. IR3535 is another ingredient with many of the same benefits as DEET if only slightly less effective. It's a good alternative for anyone with skin reactions to DEET from overexposure or sensitivity. Picaridin is another alternative considered more effective against flies. Permethrin is a repellent for clothing and fabric only. Treated fabric can kill ticks that linger but has no effect on skin. These are different chemical choices for fighting your bug pests.
Herbal Bug Power
If you're looking for a more natural approach to pest control, we've got some great solutions. There's already a recipe
on the site using citronella and lemongrass oil for a personal bug spray. Here's more insight to using herbal power against natural insects:
Eucalyptus Lemon Oil - A CDC-approved alternative to chemical mosquito repellent, these two essential oils are the perfect way to keep from getting bitten on afternoon walks in the park. Mix 1 part eucalyptus lemon oil (half lemon oil, half eucalyptus if you're making your own) to 10 parts sunflower oil or witch hazel. Don't use on children under 3 years old. Lavender - Mosquitoes apparently hate to relax so plant lavender in your yard. You can also apply lavender oil to your body in key places like wrists and neck or dab it on exposed skin with a cloth. Best if diluted for less chance of skin irritation. Thyme - Improve your campfire by tossing in a handful of thyme leaves for a natural barrier against malaria-mosquitoes. According to the Malaria Journal, burning thyme leaves can offer 60 to 90 minutes of protection. That's perfect for hot dogs and s'mores. Not big on bonfires? Mix 5 drops thyme oil with 2 ounces of water for a handy spray. Cinnamon - Get to the source and kill mosquito eggs with a cinnamon spray. If you have a water-source in your yard like a pond, pool or bird bath, using cinnamon oil on it or nearby plants could kill their eggs. That's pretty nice. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon oil for every 4 ounces of water to make a spray and look for standing water - mosquito eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of stagnant water. Citronella - You've probably heard of this one, citronella is an extract from a plant by the same name used in repellents already. You can buy the essential oil to make your own concentrated spray, candles or lotions. When the extract is made correctly, it's a huge barrier against bugs but if mixed poorly it can evaporate quickly. Mix it with either coconut oil or soybean oil to preserve its power. Add vanilla extract to improve its effectiveness.
Ticks and mosquitoes aren't the only pests bugging you this summer. We can help your with a few household insects as well.
Mint and Clove - Ant problems? Crushed mint and clove is a deterrent for ants in your home, camper or tent. Try tea bags if you don't want a mess to clean up later. You can also slip it between the cracks of your deck to keep your outdoor area ant-free. Catnip - A natural roach repellent, catnip is a great way to keep cockroaches out of you home. Place it in high cupboards, corners and other nooks you've found these little critters. Or boil it (use tea bags for convenience) and spray baseboards and cupboards. Citrus - Sponge citrus oil onto your dog to kill fleas instantly. Not recommended for households with cats. Cedar - Great for the yard, cedar chips in your landscape will deter pests from munching on your plants and eventually you. Mix up a spray for you and your dog with cedar oil and witch hazel (or jojoba, or other base oils) to kill ticks and keep ants away.
Sooth That Itch
Let's face it, bites happen. If you get one, remember to leave it alone until it heals. If you have an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately. Also look for signs of infection, fever and over fatigue and tell your doctor if any of these symptoms have gotten worse.
Overall, you'll have to deal with the itch. Resist scratching and try one of these instead:
Wipe the bite gently with one of these oils (diluted) or the vinegar as needed to keep the itching and irritation to a minimum. Just make sure you're not allergic to either the bite, the oils or the vinegar first. That would be bad.
Do you have a tried-and-true way to keep bugs off? We'd love to hear your stories. Share them with us and your thoughts on today's or any of our articles at Facebook
. Check back soon for more tips and tricks on staying healthy.