By Molly Watman
We’ve spent loads of time out doors this summer, from community gardens in Brooklyn, to the wilds of WI and jaunts up to CT and down to VA. All lovely places that are chock full of mosquitos & deer ticks. Trying to enjoy nature whist confronted with armies of pests has proven difficult. After a valiant effort, we inevitably end up locked inside with our kiddos, regretting our illusion of enjoying the countryside. We weren’t going to use DEET, and hadn’t found a really effective natural brand we trusted to do the job. So, no choice but to create our own. Starting with the wonderful world of essential oils…
Essential oils are natural oils that are derived from plants, seeds, trees, roots, bushes and flowers. In their natural environment, these oils protect their plant from insects, diseases and environmental threats. Ancient peoples quickly learned which plants had natural defenses against pests and began to benefit from their powers. We are surrounded by these same plants today, but don’t recognize how to use them. Instead, we’ve been sold on the idea that the only EFFECTIVE way to deter bugs is DEET and other artifical chemicals. In fact, DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although approved by the US EPA, it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems, particularly in children, and in rare cases, death. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.(1)
Environmentally, DEET has been shown to have a profound impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. Highly toxic to birds and aquatic life, it has contaminated over 75 percent of U.S. water sources.
But bugs carry life-threatening diseases! Mosquitoes can transmit malaria, West Nile and encephalitis, not to mention itching welts. Ticks can give us Lyme Disease, a potentially disabling and painful affliction. And the rest of the bugs can be severely annoying. We must protect ourselves, but we need a better solution. And happily, after turning to the wisdom of the past, we have options. Turns out people have been battling bugs successfully for centuries.
Here’s some of our all-star ingredients (our site has the full list) and why we chose to include them.
- Neem Oil: We adore neem, “the curer of all ailments,” because it assaults all sorts of pests. Specifically, it confuses the insects’ hormonal responses, they tend to not want to feed or breed after being exposed to it. Goodbye present and future bugs!
- Witch Hazel (as a carrier): A very effective astringent that relieves sores, bruises, swelling, and itching. (We sell a lovely infused version here.)
- White Thyme: Mosquitos don’t like this, which is a great excuse to plant bunches of it in your garden and have it handy for cooking as well.
- Geranium Oil: The absolute best tick deterrent. They RUN the other direction from it.
- Cedar and Juniper Oil: Wonderful staying power, meaning less applications are needed. They are effective against mosquitos and moths.
- Lavender Oil: Relieves bug bites you got before applying Bug Off!, accompanying pain and is a powerful antiseptic. (We sell this alone as well!)
- A few more tips to beat the bites: Mosquitos are bad fliers so a small fan will interfere with their flight path towards you. A porch with a ceiling fan isn’t a bad option either. Keep in mind that pools or puddles can quickly become mosquito breeding grounds. Tall grass is the ideal home for ticks, so keep it trim to generally deter their presence.
In summary, try our Bug Off! A Natural deterrent against mosquitos, gnats, ticks & flies. Spray on your exposed areas of skin as well as hats and clothes (no greasy oils so it will not stain fabric). Safe for use on babies and young children (and pups too.) No synthetic or petroleum based ingredients. Hypoallergenic, non-irritating, vegan, & biodegradable. best of all, it’s citronella-free so you won’t smell like a candle!
Vivi exploring at the Amazing Garden on Carroll and Columbia Street near our shop.