Happy July 4th!
Hope your 4th of July party was filled with fun, friends, awesome fireworks and good food! Independence Day is special for those that celebrate it for different reasons but getting together with those special to us and enjoying a back-yard bar-b-que with the first sweet corn of the season, fresh blueberries & raspberries, homegrown potato salad and all the trimmings is one of the pleasures of country life. The grand finale to this special day is watching our local fireworks display together and giving thanks for the freedom and independence we are able to enjoy.
Pests at the Party
This year our July 4th activities were a bit more uncomfortable because of all the mosquitoes. We attributed it to the large amount of rain we’d received and everyone got to talking about different types of mosquito repellents. I was really surprised at how many people preferred using a natural insect repellent over the usual DEET based mosquito sprays. More than half of us expressed concern over the DEET used in mosquito repellent spray and had reactions of some sort or another to it. Skin rashes, headaches and nausea were just a few of the symptoms experienced by those of us who had some adverse effect to products containing a higher percentage of DEET.
Home Mosquito Control
Then our conversation became focused on alternatives to these more toxic bug repellents and what we had found to be the best natural insect repellent. The majority of us had tried some form of herbal insect repellent and some of us had even tried making our own home mosquito control.
We’ve found that most natural insect repellents are made with citronella essential oil as the main ingredient. Other essential oils that may be added but in smaller quantities are: peppermint, eucalyptus, cedarwood, lemongrass, pennyroyal, lavender, bergamot and tea tree oil. Alcohol is also sometimes an ingredient and some type of diluting carrier oil.
Citronella Insect Repellent
To make a citronella insect repellent at home is fairly simple. Citronella essential oil can be found in most health food stores or online. It is available in different sizes but about a half ounce is good to start with. To this a carrier oil is added, about 1/2 – 1 oz., to prevent the essential oils from irritating the skin. Most people use Jojoba or sweet almond oil as the base. For use as a spray this oil blend can be further diluted with vodka. Someone suggested the amount to be about 16 ounces but that seemed like a lot, so I would test this in about 8 oz. or so first. The mixture should be shaken before each use to thoroughly mix the oils and be applied with some type of spray bottle. (we reused an empty mosquito repellent bottle) This is only to be used on the skin, not taken internally!
It is always a good idea to test a small area of skin before applying in case you are extra sensitive. (If you can find any of the other essential oils previously mentioned they could be added in small amounts of about 1/8 of an ounce.)
Mouthwash Mosquito Repellent?
The most interesting suggestion we heard at our July 4th party was the one about using Listerine mouthwash as a mosquito control spray. The person that shared this with us had tried this method during one of his outdoor events and said the mosquitoes completely disappeared from the area where the Listerine had been sprayed. They had sprayed it on the lawn, deck floor, and around the food table (not on it), as well as the kid’s playground area and it worked! They claimed it actually killed the mosquitoes, but I would be happy if it just kept them away, so this is one bug spray I will try. I’m not sure if it’s non-toxic, but seems to me it would be less toxic than the majority of insects sprays on the market today.
You may not be able to try this for this year’s 4th of July event, but there’s always another summer picnic or camping trip that we can test it on. Learning to deal with bugs is part of country living but there are simple, non-toxic solutions that are safer for us to use.
Hope this helps you have a more enjoyable and bug-free summer and maybe next time I’ll share some tips on what to do when you do get bit by mosquitoes, deer flies, ticks and other bugs. Oh, and let’s not forget Fido and Kitty, who will probably be dealing with fleas and other pesky pests this summer. (we will share some suggestions for more natural ways to deal with these problems too)
In the meantime, have a safe and happy July 4th celebration!!!