Bugs. For better or worse, biting critters are as much a part of summer as backyard barbeques and trips to the beach, except they’re a lot less fun. Though welts, itches and bites are enough to make some people want to stay indoors till the first frost, there are a number of natural ways enjoy the great outdoors virtually bite-free. This season, instead of carpet-bombing insects with chemicals that may kill them and hurt you, try a few of my tips to help get critters to bug off naturally:
Avoid Feeding Times.
Though bugs will happily snack on us at just about anytime of day, the prime-time feeding time for most bugs is dawn and again dusk. If you can avoid going outdoors during prime-time, you can help keep bites at bay.
Blow Them Away.
Blow bugs away with a little help from a fan. Bugs have a harder time landing on you if there’s wind interrupting their attempts to land. So, if you’re dining or entertaining outdoors in the early evening, point a fan or two around the patio to create an insect-deterring breeze.
Plant a Bug-Repelling Garden.
There area numerous plants with natural, insect-repelling properties, so plant a few to help tamp down the pest population in your backyard. In addition to beating back the invading hoards, these plants offer scents that humans enjoy and bugs do not! Among them: Lemon Basil, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Marigold, Garlic, Tea Tree, Citronella Grass, Eucalyptus, Pyrethrum and Chamomile to name a few.
Drain it, Dry it.
If there’s standing water anywhere on your property, drain it to make your immediate surroundings unappealing to breeding insects. Puddles, ponds and birdbaths are notorious breeding grounds so keep them as dry as possible throughout the summer and early fall.
Make Yourself Unappealing.
Not surprisingly, bugs are attracted to fragrance, so the less you use during the summer the better. Skip the hairspray, hold the eau de toilette and ditch the dryer sheets, all of which can the wrong message to the insect kingdom. The fewer fragranced products you use the better — and the less attractive you’ll smell to insects.
Hold Your Fire!
For all those moms and dads dutifully spraying their children from head to toe with bug sprays, please, hold your fire! Enveloping your family in a cloud of neurotoxins is hardly a worthwhile tradeoff to avoid a bite or two. The saner alternative? Avoid chemical-rich sprays and use gentler, natural plant-based alternatives by Burt’s Bees and California Baby.
Dress for the Occasion.
Take a tip from the Sahara-dwelling Bedouins and cover up – not necessarily in flowing blue robes, but consider a modified version: wear a “flap-hat” with side panels to cover the ears and neck, plus lightweight, long-sleeve shirts and pants whenever possible. The less readily available skin you have for bugs to land on, the fewer bites you’re likely to get.
Here’s to a bite-free rest of summer!
*Image of “pyrethrum” via Shutterstock