And while DEET, the active ingredient in most chemical bug repellents, is considered safe in small doses, overexposure can result in skin irritation, headaches, nausea, and neurological damage. Learn more on the Green Guide. So unless you’re planning a trip to a mosquito- or tick-infested area, why not just go the natural route for keeping bugs at bay?
In honor of all the baseball games, picnics, barbecues, hikes, gardening, and other outdoor activities you’ll want enjoy this summer sans bug bites, I bring you your next Green Around the House Challenge: repelling bugs naturally. It’s easy—just follow these steps.
Dress for bug-free success. Wear clothing that limits skin exposure, such as long-sleeve shirts tucked into pants. Skip anything dark-colored or bold-patterned, which attracts mosquitoes. (Ticks are much easier to spot against light or white clothing, anyway.) Before stepping outdoors, pull on boots or other close-toed shoes instead of sandals, especially if you’re in a particularly mosquito-heavy area. Also don a wide-brimmed hat and avoid applying heavily scented perfumes, colognes, and lotions.
Plant with pests in mind. Your beloved garden might have more bug-repelling power than you think, depending on what’s growing. Rosemary, basil, catnip, lemon balm, and rose geraniums are all smart picks for warding off insects, according to this Mother Earth News story. To use any of these plants to your advantage, crush their leaves to release their scents. Then rub the essential oil on your skin.
While you’re at it, also check out this list of herbs that repel insects (and animals too) from Dearborn Farms.
Eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes breed in standing water—and it doesn’t take a lot before you’ve got a bug problem. Just one mosquito can lay 300 eggs in one capful of water, according to the National Park Service. Your best line of defense? Regularly check and drain birdbaths, wading pools, gutters, birdbaths, flowerpots, and any other spot where water can collect after a rain shower. Also repair leaky outdoor pipes and faucets, and get rid of any unnecessary open containers that collect water. Score more tips here for eliminating standing water.
Clean up mealtime. Bugs love feasting at picnics just as much as you. So if you’re dining outdoors, keep food wrapped up and stored until you’re ready to dig in. When you’re done, promptly pack the remainders back up. Get more bug-free picnic tips from this Do It Yourself article. When eating indoors, quickly clean up bug-attracting crumbs and sticky spots, and cover all food containers.
For easy ideas on keeping common household bugs such as ants, fleas, and cockroaches at bay naturally, hop on over to this Eartheasy article. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.
Until next time,
The Home Know-It-All