Bug Off: Some Attractive Repellents to Consider

Flying insects like mosquitoes and gnats can really put a damper on your outdoor fun. Some of the commercially available bug repellents don’t always do what they promise, may have an unpleasant odor and some contain harmful ingredient to your skin.  If you’d like to try a more natural approach, here are a few tips and ideas that might make your time outdoors a little more pleasant.

  • Wear light clothing. Dark clothing creates strong contrast against background which makes it easier for mosquitoes to find you from a distance.
  • Cool down post-exercise indoors. Mosquitoes are drawn to carbon dioxide and lactic acid.  You give off more carbon dioxide and release more lactic acid when you are hot or have been exercising so it’s best to cool off indoors to avoid getting bitten.  Certain foods that are high in salt or potassium can also cause your body to release more lactic acid, making you more attractive to those flying pests.
  • Go easy on the perfume, aftershave and scented laundry and bath soaps. Subtle fruity or floral fragrances including those in fabric softeners and bath gels can make you much more attractive to bugs!  If you’re plagued by pests when you step outside, you may want to switch to unscented versions of your hair care, bath and laundry products for the summer months.
  • Citronella, peppermint, orange, lemongrass, rosemary, lavender and tea tree oils are all strong-scented essential oils that can repel flying insects including mosquitoes. When just a few drops are combined with a skin-safe carrier like olive oil or witch hazel (generally one part essential oil to 20 parts carrier), you can create an effective, natural and pleasant smelling repellent.  If you are pregnant or nursing, you should always consult your physician before using any repellents, natural or store-bought.  Mouthwash or other sources of alcohol around the home can be effective flying insect repellents. A clear alcohol, such as vodka, can be put into a spray bottle and used around the home and on exposed skin.
  • Pure vanilla extract can be dabbed on the wrists and behind the ears, and anywhere else where gnats and mosquitoes like to nibble! Many insects don’t appreciate the lovely scent of vanilla and will seek a snack elsewhere.  Be careful when applying as the vanilla extract can stain clothing.
  • A little trick that looks silly but really works in a pinch: If gnats are swarming around your eyes and you’re caught without sunglasses or bug repellent, raise your arm above your head.  The little critters will automatically seek the highest point and congregate around your raised hand instead of in your eyes!

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