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Pesticides: Summer Bug Protection

MosquitoSummer is breeding time for bugs, which brings increased exposure to mosquitoes, ticks, and various stinging insects. How do we avoid the use of harsh chemicals and still protect our skin and our health?

With proper precaution and preparation, there's no reason you can't enjoy the great outdoors this summer!


Practical Tips

Before we look at applying and spraying, let's consider a few helpful tips for dealing with bugs:

  1. Do not wear fragrances. Bugs are already drawn to hormones, pheromones, and chemicals released in our sweat. No need to add any extra scents to attract them!
  2. Eat garlic and drink 1-2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, as insects are repelled by these.
  3. Wear plenty of clothing. Keep well covered. Pull socks over pant cuffs. Avoid bright clothing.
  4. Shower quickly after exposure to bugs, especially ticks.
  5. When camping, throw sage, rosemary, and/or lemon balm leaves on the fire to reduce bugs.

Insect Repellent

Most insect repellents are filled with chemicals such as DEET, permethrin, and metofluthrin. The risks may outweigh the benefits when it comes to direct applicaton on the skin. The EPA offers these warnings when using DEET:

  • Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
  • Do not allow young children to apply this product.

With warnings such as these, it makes sense to consider more natural approaches.

Natural products such as Buzz Away and Bite Blocker are a great alternative. Or you can make your own!

  1. Soybean/Lemongrass Oil
    • 1/2 c. organic soybean oil (Soybean oil has natural repellent properties. Be sure to choose organic. Available from online retailers such as Amazon.)
    • 15 drops each of the following essential oils: lemongrass*, geranium, eucalyptus
    • Several drops neem oil for added protection (optional)

    Combine in container and shake. Allow to sit for one hour before using. Use within one year.

    * Lemongrass is a close relative of citronella, which has known insecticidal properties. Citronella essential oil can be used in place of lemongrass (or use both!).

  2. Lemon Spray
    • 2 c. witch hazel
    • 1 tsp. vegetable glycerin or small dab of liquid castile soap
    • 20 drops citronella essential oil
    • 20 drops lemongrass essential oil
    Combine in spray bottle. Shake vigorously. Use within one year.

For more practical help on natural ways to cope with mosquitoes, see How to Repel Mosquitoes Safely from the organization Beyond Pesticides.


Bug Bites

When a bug bites, it injects a bit of saliva into your skin. This saliva and your body's reaction to it causes the unpleasant itch. Here are some ideas for alleviating the problems associated with bug bites.

  1. Numb the bite (or bites) with an ice cube. Add a paste of baking soda and slight amount of water. An even better option for paste is calcium bentonite clay.
  2. Add 1 c. baking soda to lukewarm running bathwater and soak for 20 minutes. Add ground oatmeal for additional relief.
  3. Add a drop of neem oil directly to the bite. Neem relieves many types of skin irritation.

For more suggestions for natural bite treatments, see this article.

Quotes

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

Dedication