Mosquito season, sand fly season… Regardless of where you live, there are bound to be a few months out of the year where you’re sure to get covered in welts head to toe if you forgo the bug spray. Enter the bug season dilemma: you want to cover every inch of yourself in order to enjoy your camping trip, family picnic, backyard bonfire or day at the lake, but you’re also slightly worried about the possible chemicals in bug spray. Are they dangerous?
With the increasing number of diseases and deadly viruses that mosquitoes and ticks are carrying, warding off insects has become more than just preventing an itch later on — so many are choosing to take their chances with store-bought bug repellents. The majority of these repellents contain questionable ingredients when it comes to the effect they may have on our health. One chemical found in many repellents is DEET.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency considers DEET to be safe if used properly, a 2009 study found that DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes that are vital for the nervous system to function properly. The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides stated, “With heavy exposure to DEET… humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath.” Ultimately, whatever you put on your body is absorbed through your skin, including synthetic fragrances and other chemicals that can be found in insect repellents.
The Environmental Working Group found that no bug repellent is completely effective against protecting bug bites, so it’s best to use other precautions:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when spending time outdoors.
- Tuck long pants into your socks.
- Avoid tall grass and underbrush.
- Plant bug-repelling plants.
- Use yellow light bulbs in outdoor fixtures.
- Use unscented products.
Nothing ruins summertime fun like being covered in itchy bug bites, but by using popular store-bought bug repellents, you might be taking a risk with your health. The good news is, you can create your own non-toxic, kid-friendly bug spray at home that will protect you, your family and even your pets from insects without the fear of harmful ingredients. Many essential oils work as natural insect repellents. Tea tree oil is an anti-parasitic, capable of destroying or suppressing the growth of parasites such as fleas and ticks. Citronella essential oil is a great natural insect repellent, and lemongrass essential oil has insecticidal properties that kill insects and keep them away. Ready to get started on your homemade insect repellent? Here’s how:
- Citronella Essential Oil – Protects against mosquitos and fleas
- Tea Tree Essential Oil – Protects against fleas
- Lemongrass Essential Oil – Protects against mosquitos and ticks
- Alcohol-free Witch Hazel
- Spray Bottle
- Pour the witch hazel into a glass jar.
- Add 15 drops of citronella and 15 drops of the lemongrass (more can be added).
- Add 10-12 drops of tea tree oil.
- Put a lid on the jar and shake well.
- Put the mixture into a spray bottle using a funnel.
- Use your natural bug spray on your next outdoor adventure!