With the return of the warmer weather comes fresh air, longer days, summer vacation and great seasonal diversions. Unfortunately, those same warm breezes also bring bugs. Lots and lots of pesky, biting, stinging, downright irritating bugs. If you're not comfortable fogging yourself and your kids in a cloud of DEET, there are still ways to keep those flying, tiny monsters from ruining your fun in the great outdoors. These are ten of the best and most effective all-natural alternatives to chemical-laden, commercially-available bug spray.
Wear Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus - Studies examined by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that essential oil from the lemon eucalyptus tree is as effective as DEET when it comes to repelling mosquitoes. It can be poisonous if large quantities are ingested, however, and so it's not recommended for little ones that are under three years of age.
Dress to Repel - Mosquitoes and other flying pests will come flocking to those in dark colors or bright hues long before they start gunning for those in pastels. Make sure that you're wearing light colors, as what you're wearing really will make a difference in the number of bugs at your personal party.
Plant a Bug-Repelling Garden - If you plan to spend a lot of time in your backyard and don't want to be bothered with flying pests, you can make a real difference in the insect life on your property by planting things that naturally repel mosquitoes and other creepy-crawlies. Geranium, marigold, catnips and horsemint are all considered bug-repelling plants.
Spring for Citronella Products - The vaguely citrusy aroma of citronella is quite pleasant to human noses, but it sends biting bugs running for the proverbial hills. Rather than dousing yourself or the surrounding area in chemically-dense and potentially dangerous commercial sprays, look for candles and torches scented with citronella.
Skip the Sweet Scents - Smelling nice attracts more than other people, it's also a major beacon for bugs. For the warmer months, especially for outdoor events, it's best to use unscented toiletries and skip the perfume or cologne altogether.
Read the Labels of Your Toiletries - The human body naturally produces lactic acid, which is a major attractor for mosquitoes and other biting bugs. It's also present in most moisturizers and body washes that advertise as alpha hydroxy acid exfoliators, so be sure that you're not using those products when you plan to be outdoors for extended periods of time.
Take Your Vitamins - Boosting your B1 vitamin intake is not only good for your body, but it can also help you repel bugs from the outside in. Look for supplements that are marketed as high in B1 content, and consider a daily garlic supplement as well.
Police Standing Water Sources - Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, which is why it's so important to be vigilant about emptying sources of standing water and making sure that water fixtures in your lawn, like birdbaths and koi ponds, are regularly agitated.
Look for Chemical-Free Products - Just because you're looking to cut out the chemicals from your summer routine doesn't mean that you can't use any commercially-available repellent products. As organic living and natural health techniques grow in popularity, it's becoming easier and easier to find products that will repel the bugs without coating you in a film of chemical pesticides.
Make Your Own Sprays - Mixing essential oils like rose, geranium, basil, peppermint, lemongrass, catnip and bay leaf with ordinary witch hazel in a small spray bottle will leave you with a safe, all-natural alternative to DEET-heavy bug repellents. These ingredients can be a comparatively pricey investment upfront, but will yield several batches of spray that you can reapply as needed without fears of chemical exposure.