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Bugs, The Natural Way to Keep Them at Bay

Written by Andrea Candee, MH, MSC   
Tuesday, 01 June 2004 00:00
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Bugs! Do I respect them as part of Nature’s miraculous design…yes. Do I like them… not really.

Despite daily intake of supplements reputed to be bug deterrents (i.e. garlic, B vitamins), many of us are still sweet meat for the little critters. Acknowledging the skin’s ability to absorb substances into the bloodstream (modern medicine’s example of this biological fact is the invention of skin patches for delivering pharmaceutical drugs into the body) encourages us to seek out natural alternatives to chemical insect repellents.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Dogs and cats are often the carriers of Lyme infected ticks. To fully protect one’s self and family from being bitten, the family pet must also be protected. A successful program for preventing any tick from attaching itself to your pet includes garlic powder and brewers yeast sprinkled liberally on their food every day (found in a convenient powdered combination in health food stores) and oil of eucalyptus. The essential oil of eucalyptus, derived from the leaf of the tree, contains naturally occurring chemicals repellent to ticks and fleas. A most effective method is to dip a thin rope into the undiluted oil, wrap it in a bandanna and tie it around your pet’s neck (fashionable, as well). The rope can be refreshed twice a week or more often, if necessary. The oil is quite potent and should not be applied directly to the skin as it may cause irritation. Mixing 1oz oil of eucalyptus into one pint of water in a spray bottle also enables you to spray your pet’s coat on a daily basis. But why save all the good protection for your pets? Before gardening or hiking, scent yourself with “eau de eucalyptus.” The oil/water combination can be sprayed on skin and/or clothing before an outdoor excursion, gardening, or romp in the grass. Eucalyptus diluted in a vegetable oil (e.g. almond, sesame, sunflower) can safely be applied to the skin for longer lasting protection.

Mosquitoes and black fly take wing!

Dilute 1oz essential oil of pennyroyal in 16oz vegetable oil to effectively repel mosquitoes. Keep a vial of this dilution with you when headed for a picnic, swing in the hammock or anywhere mosquitoes hang out. Oil of Pennyroyal has protected campers in the swampiest of areas by directly applying it to exposed areas of skin.

Black flies ruining a relaxing day in the park? Check out the surrounding area for aromatic evergreen trees, break off a branch, mash it with a rock and apply to arms and legs. The released essential oils will repel those bothersome bugs.

Don’t be the local attraction for stinging insects.

Bees, wasps, and yellow jackets are attracted by sweet smells and bright colors. If you don’t want them to think you are a delectable flower to explore, avoid wearing perfumes and scented hair and body care products, as well as brightly colored clothing. Neutral colors such as tan and white are least likely to attract unwelcome visitors. Cover sugary food and drink at picnic sites.

The easiest, most non-invasive way to remove embedded stingers or body parts of insects (splinters and thorns, too!) is to apply ripened, mashed banana covered with gauze, or tape on a piece of overripe banana skin overnight (pulp side to skin). The enzymes in the banana will painlessly draw to the surface any foreign object.