Keep the Bugs – and the Chemicals – Away with these Green Tips
It’s finally time to come out of hiding in the North. After months of being locked up from the cold, we are released into nature. The shining sun on our shoulders, birds chirping, mosquitoes buzzing… ugh. There are some minor annoyances that come with life in the great outdoors. But, before you lather yourself head-to-toe in toxins, consider these eco-friendly alternatives to deal with the bad bugs of summer.
The number one complaint about warm summer nights? Mosquitoes. We could certainly find a slew of chemistry to spray on our yards and lather on our skin, but there may be less toxic options we could try first.
Always make an effort to reduce standing water, like buckets or bird baths. That is breeding ground for mosquitoes.
To protect an area, consider going back to the origin of all your chemical sprays – plants! You can surround your outdoor relaxing/dining areas with a container garden full of mosquito repelling plant life like the ones below. Bonus, you’ll have a beautiful bunch of greenery and flowers to look at.
- Citronella (yep, it’s a real plant)
- Basil (great for fresh pesto too)
- Marigolds (they also repel deer if you’re a gardener)
- Lemon Balm
Need to go another step further? Collect your old coffee grounds in a container and let them dry out. When you’re entertaining outdoors, pile some on a glass or ceramic plate, and light them on fire with a match. The smoke from the grounds will keep mosquitoes away. Seriously!
If you still need help with your battle against nature, fight nature with nature! You may hate mosquitoes, but bats love them. Put up a bat house. One bat eats up to 1,000 mosquitoes in just an hour! And it’s very unlikely to try and attack you or suck your blood.
If you have a particularly dedicated tribe of biters, then a more intense chemical treatment may be needed. But, there are eco-friendlier options there too. Look for a treatment company that offers non-toxic chemical applications.
You can make your own body spray using a carrier oil or alcohol and a dilution of one or a mixture of tea tree, lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus essential oils. (Always use caution and follow instructions when creating skin treatments to avoid rash and irritation. Don’t use if you’re pregnant either.) Frankly, if you’re pregnant, fashion yourself an outfit out of mosquito netting because you don’t need to expose yourself to the little buggers’ health complications in the least.
We hate mosquitoes because they make us itch right? (And serve no greater purpose than to store dino DNA so we can bring back dinos a la Jurassic park) So let’s find natural ways to address the itch:
- Combo baking soda and water into a thick paste, apply to bee stings and mosquito bites to kill the itch
- Cut a chunk of banana peel and lay it inside down on the bite
- Apply some coconut oil mixed with tea tree or lavender essential oil
- Make yourself a cup of chamomile tea, then use the leftover bag and rest it on the bite
These little buggers are also highly undesirable. I have seen tons of recipes online to make your own deterrent spray. They are sprayed on your shoes, socks, and lower extremities, plus they’re safe for pets, too. But, as with all essential oil use, research the specific oil instructions and warnings, and maybe do a test patch before hosing yourself in them. Make a spray using a combination of lemongrass, eucalyptus, and lavender plus distilled water and a bit of evaporating alcohol, like witch hazel or vodka. Never use alcohol when creating a spray you intend on applying directly to the skin of children. There are witch hazel blends without alcohol which make the best choice.
Give Green a Chance
Unfortunately, these little blood suckers are part of nature. While we don’t have to respect them, we do have to respect our environment. Bug treatments are classically filled with a lot of nasty chemicals, like DEET, which we aren’t even totally sure how what impact they have on us yet. So, before you drop a giant bug bomb on your yard and rub yourself in poison, consider giving these natural remedies a try. If they work, that’s awesome right? If not, then at least you know you tried, and you’ll smell nice too.