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Natural Bug and Mosquito Repellent

Natural Ways to Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes

natural bug sprayIt seems that when you're enjoying the most delectable meal, right as the sun is setting over the lake, a swarm of black flies or mosquitoes decide to join the dinner party and wreak havoc on your fun. When citronella candles and tiki torches don't cut it, it's time to get out the bug spray.

You've probably read about the powerful chemical DEET that is found in most bug sprays. When repellent with DEET is sprayed onto the skin, it's absorbed and eventually enters the bloodstream. With longterm use, DEET can cause insomnia and mood changes and other nasty side effects. According to the EPA, if used as directed, bug sprays containing DEET are not harmful to us, although longterm exposure can be.

Rather than put your health at risk with DEET-filled sprays, here are some nontoxic options that are just as effective.

  1. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that this natural oil has been proven in several studies to be as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes. Even though it comes from the lemon eucalyptus tree, it can be poisonous if ingested in high quantities and should not be used on children under the age of three.
  2. DEET-Free Sprays: There's actually a wide variety of repellent sprays available today that don't contain DEET. For instance, Bite Blocker All Natural ($9) fends off mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, fleas, and blackflies, is safe on kids, is waterproof and sweatproof, and can provide up to eight hours of protection. In a 2002 study, this soy-based repellent was found to be the most effective natural alternative to DEET. This natural bug repellent offered more than 90 minutes of protection, better than some low-concentration DEET products. Other natural products worth taking a look at include Burt's Bees All Natural Outdoor Herbal Insect Repellent ($8), and Natrapel 8-Hour Deet Free Insect Repellent Wipes ($5).
  3. Clothing Tips: If you're unable to wear long-sleeved shirts or socks, try to avoid wearing darker colors since mosquitoes love dark colors. Opt for light-colored clothing instead.

Source: Flickr User kirybabe

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greenmom2 greenmom2 5 years
I use the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus product and love it! I was curious why the EPA warns against using Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) on children younger than three, so I contacted a woman who oversees the sales of OLE in the US to find out. She explained that the EPA determined Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus IS safe to use on children without restriction (and in fact it has been sold throughout Europe for more than 10 years under the Mosi-guard brand to kids over the age of 3 months with no reported problems). The only reason that the label on the US product says it shouldn’t be used on children younger than three is because of decision by New York’s authorities. They feel that in the absence of additional studies that the company has not yet conducted and would prefer to avoid given the ethics of unnecessary animal testing, in order for the product to be registered in New York this restriction must be included on the label. If it is required by one state, because of national distribution channels, it effectively must be on the label for all states. Seems unfair but there you have it. Anyway, the woman I contacted has a 17-month old and uses it on him regularly to combat the Vermont black flies, so I feel very confident in its safety for my own kids.
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