Bugs and Chemicals Be Gone

Mosquitoes are a common and serious problem in warmer, humid areas. If you're in Louisiana, you're no stranger to the annoying things. They tend to breed in warm, standing water...and you can find that anywhere right after a big rain, just like the past week of rain we've had.

Getting bitten by a mosquito is more than just itchy and annoying - it can make you sick. West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and though it's rare, it can kill. 

It's easy to grab a can of bug spray to help protect yourself from getting mosquito or other bug bites. But even that isn't the best idea. DEET is a common chemical found in most insect repellents, and its function is to mask your own scent in order to repel insects. While the EPA says the amounts aren't enough to hurt you, it still has poisonous effects. The National Institute of Health notes that people who use very high concentrations of DEET on their skin over a long period of time, such as military personnel or game wardens, can face more severe skin reactions that include blisters, burning and permanent scars of. Other symptoms associated with long-term use of over 50% concentrations of DEET include insomnia and mood changes. If you swallow a large amount, you could experience low blood pressure and a low heart rate, but the most serious complication of DEET ingestion is neurological damage.

While common bug sprays don't have that high a concentration of DEET, it's still a toxic chemical that you're spraying onto your skin, where it's then absorbed into your body. And that's not healthy or green!

So, what are the alternatives?

Start by working to eliminate insect sources in your yard. If you've got standing water, disperse it to where it drains better. If you have empty pots or an open fire pit, turn them over or cover them so water can't collect during the next rain.

If you want to make your own insect repellent, look to some common herbs and plants for assistance. Planting some of these 35 options from Backyard Boss in your garden can help ward off the bugs, and using the essential oil versions in a spray solution works for your skin.

  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Cajeput
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cedar
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Mint
Mint is great at repelling mosquitoes, ants and flies, pulling triple duty. Plus it smells incredible in your garden.

I haven't yet experimented with making my own bug spray, but here are some other websites with recipe, from those who have tried it:
If you're not into essential oils or making your own versions of things, you're still in luck. There are many brands of natural bug sprays available. I had a travel size natural bug spray that I'd found at Target years back. I think it was Eco Smart, but I can't honestly remember. I do honestly remember that it smelled like crushed up grass. Maybe it's not the best smell in the world, but it does beat that heavy chemical DEET aroma!
And there are natural versions of Citronella candles, which use essential oils. Citronella oil has a strong scent and can be harmful to pets, but there are versions of repellent candles that use herbal oils instead. Big Dipper Wax Works provides different size candles to accommodate different size outdoor spaces.


Learn how to make your own citronella oil candle! You could use the same instructions and swap out for whichever bug-repellent essential oil you'd like to try.

Have you tried natural alternatives to insect repellent? How did it work for you?

And, one quick PSA for ya...don't forget to tune in to 106.3 Radio Lafayette tomorrow morning around 7:25! It'll be my final Wednesday in the studio, and we're celebrating Earth Day!

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