My previous article, Summer Fun: Taking the Sting Out, detailed ways to discourage stinging pests from taking up residence at your residence. Now, lets talk about surviving their presence. It’s always a good idea to dose yourself, and often your clothing, with repellent if you’ll be hanging outdoors. However, most of the retail bug sprays will repel your family and friends along with the pests. Instead of sitting alone at the barbecue, try this pleasant, all natural alternative repellent. A repellent without DEET. Both the man-made chemical DEET and this natural repellent might be absorbed into your skin. The difference being that the repellent recipe that follows contains pure, all-natural ingredients from plants and flowers. No worries, the pests won’t mistake you for a pollen source.
You will need carrier oil, such as olive, almond, grape seed, and jojoba; essential oils; aloe vera gel; and a 2 ounce dark-colored glass container. A dark, hard plastic container will work if you prefer to make a spray. Find all these items at many full service grocery stores and absolutely at Central Market, Whole Foods, Alfafa’s, Sprouts, and the like. The following recipe is simple to make and easily stored.
Essential Oil – 15 to 30 drops*
Aloe Vera Gel – 1 Tablespoon
Carrier Oil – 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) **
Mix and store the natural repellent in a dark glass or hard plastic bottle. Shake well before each use. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Avoid face, including mouth, eyes and other mucous membrane. Do not put inside the ear.
*Choose tea tree, lemon eucalyptus, lavender, or rosemary to repel stinging insects. Avoid citrus and other sweet oils. Both lavender and rosemary are more herbaceous than sweet.
** For a non-oily spray/rub, insert essential oil drops into 3 ounces of grain alcohol or distilled water. Grain alcohol has the closet alcoholic proof content to perfumers alcohol, which isn’t readily available.
If you choose an oil based mixture, pour 3-4 drops of repellent into palm of hand and dab small amounts on exposed skin areas (e.g. back, front and sides of neck; ears; wrists; bend of arms, ankles, etc.) You can also apply sparingly on clothing that doesn’t stain easily, especially items such as socks and hats.
Please read the essential oil safety information before using: http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/safety.asp. Some examples: never use essential oils on skin without first diluting it in oil, water, etc.; and pregnant women should avoid essential oils such as clary sage, rosemary, peppermint—to name a few.
You don’t need to saturate your skin If using the oil-based recipe, remember less is more. This repellent is not a lotion, so dab in strategic places rather than spreading it. For sprays, apply a light mist over exposed skin and clothing. Again, avoid your face and all other mucous membranes when applying this repellent. Additionally, do not use more essential oil drops than specified in this recipe.
If you’d still rather buy a natural repellent, you might have to wait a while longer. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) attempts to develop one from a chemical found in cedar trees and citrus fruit. However, it’s primarily for mosquitoes, ticks, head lice and, hopefully, bedbugs.
For information on making the pests feel unwelcome in the first place, see Summer Fun Taking the Sting Out.
© 2011 DA Lewis