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Natural Bug Deterrents

We are now in the middle of the summer, and along with the warm weather that we enjoy so much comes BUGS. There are some bugs that I don’t mind, like ladybugs and butterflies, but I’m talking about the real enemies- ticks and mosquitoes.

Why do they bite us? Female mosquitoes do not require blood for their own survival, they bite us to nourish their eggs with the protein and iron that is found in our blood. So not only are we left with an uncomfortable bite, but we are essentially helping to create more mosquitoes. Ticks bite us for essentially the same reason. They need the nutrients in our blood in order to reproduce. I don’t know about you, but I did not sign up for this job!

Not only do they disgust and annoy us, but both insects carry many diseases. Mosquitoes can be hosts for malaria, yellow fever, West Nile, Zika, and many other viruses. Ticks can transfer Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, Bourbon virus, Powassan disease, Tickborne Relapsing Fever and many other viruses. Long story short, we do not want these insects to touch us. We also want to keep them away from our pets, as they too can be victims of viruses/disease such as heartworm in dogs from mosquitoes and also Rocky Mountain spotted fever from ticks.

When considering how to repel these uninvited guests, the first thing you might think about is reaching for the bug spray/insect repellent. The problem with this is that although they repel the insects and keep us bite free, they may contain ingredients that are hazardous to our health. One of these ingredients is DEET. DEET was developed and tested in the 1940s and 1950s by the US Army for use in jungle warfare during World War II. In other words, it works EXTREMELY well to repel mosquitoes, ticks, and many other insects. But a 2009 study found that DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes that are vital for the nervous system to function properly. Another harmful ingredient is pyrethrin. These are a naturally occurring chemicals found certain chrysanthemum flowers. These chemicals interfere with the way the nervous system functions.

Luckily, there are more natural options for repelling the mosquitoes and ticks, in the form of essential oils. These are also safe for your pets.

The oils that repel mosquitoes are:

• Citronella
• Peppermint
• Lemon
• Eucalyptus
• Basil
• Clove
• Lemongrass
• Geranium
• Thyme
• Lavender

The oils that repel ticks are:

• Rose Geranium
• Juniper
• Rosewood
• Thyme
• Grapefruit
• Oregano
• Peppermint

To apply: Oils can be combined in a spray bottle for easy application. Mix ½ cup of water or witch-hazel and (if desired, add one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol). Mix about 20 to 30 drops of your chosen oil, or even mix two.

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Study Finds that Mosquito Repellent DEET Affects Nervous System - Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog

Popular insect repellent deet affects nervous system: study (phys.org)

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