Shannon Walter

Beating the Bugs

Bug Spray
Toxic Chemicals and Safe Alternatives
It’s fall, and to me that means the end of bug season is nigh. One of the benefits of living in Michigan is that every year we are blessed with a few months of no mosquitoes. Till then, I’m going to continue fighting through the swarms to enjoy our favorite outdoor activities.
I don’t know a single person who likes being bit by mosquitoes. Bugs and I have an agreement- they leave me alone and they can live. It’s amazing how such a small insect can be such a huge pest! On top of their pesky, itchy bites, mosquitoes are carriers for a number of illnesses, like the recent zika outbreak. So, we break out the bug spray and coat ourselves in beg killing chemicals- if this concoction deters and kills insects, what’s it’s effect on our bodies?

DEET- the most common toxin in bug spray.

N-Diethyl-meta-tolumide, DEET, is a bit of a mystery. No one really knows why it works as a bug deterrent. Does it mask your scent? Does it make you invisible to bugs? (Like the elven cloaks given to Frodo and the hobbits in the Lord Of The Rings, sorry couldn’t resist my nerdy moment.) I don’t know. I do know it’s something I want to put on myself or my kids.

Products containing a 30% or more concentration of DEET have been banned by Health Canada.

This may be the weirdest thing I’ve read today…
“A 30-year-old man applied DEET daily to a rash as a means of self-medication. After application to half of his body, he would enter a home-made sauna for up to 90 minutes. He would exit and apply the repellent to the other side of his body and repeat. These treatments continued for a week, and he was noted to be lethargic and incoherent following the treatments. After his final treatment, he developed grandiose delusions and became verbally aggressive, irritable and belligerent. He was treated in the hospital with various drugs and his condition improved by the 6th day. He was discharged on the 10th day and did not have recurrence of symptoms.” ~Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Several studies have shown that DEET is absorbed into the skin. An alarming 17% of what is absorbed into the skin, will pass into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, it’s free to wreak havoc on the nervous system. Dr. Mohammed Abou-Donia discovered that when given average doses, animals suffered problems with their central nervous system, such as muscle coordination. While we are told that small doses may not be harmful and to avoid concentrations over 30%, I choose not to risk it. The chance of skin irritation and them being wrong in their assumptions is greater than the inconvenience of a scratchy bug bite.

“But you said they carry diseases…”

Yes, I did say that. I remember. Malaria, west nile virus, dengue, encephalitis, yellow fever, and zika are some of the numerous mosquito- borne diseases the human race has to put up with. I don’t support the use of DEET in bug sprays, but I definitely don’t want any of these diseases spread to me or my family. Now we are at a crossroad.

Safe Alternatives to DEET Sprays

Bug zappers kill indiscriminately- even the beneficial bugs; less than 1% of the bugs and insects were female mosquitoes. With their lack of performance and inability to leave the good bugs alone, that disqualifies bug zappers. I guess that means we are back to bug sprays. There are all kinds of natural bug sprays on the market, but many of them, sadly, just don’t work. Most are powered by a blend of several essential oils housed in a carrier oil. Every company uses their own special essential oil blend, but the best ones contain these oils:

Cinnamon oil

Cinnamon essential oil is a natural and safe pesticide, that smells great. It can kill mosquito larvae more effectively than DEET!

Geranium oil

The essential oil from geraniums is a great natural tick repellant, and it’s a good all- around bug deterrent. So, if you have to chose just one, geranium oil would be your best bet.

Lemongrass oil

Lemongrass is a natural insecticide and works well at chasing away pesky mosquitoes. Psst... citronella is extracted from lemongrass plants.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint adds a cool, fresh smell to bug sprays, but it’s not just there for fragrance. It helps repel mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks.

Thyme oil

I think thyme oil is my new favorite. Mister knows just how much I detest flies, I can’t stand them! Thankfully, thyme oil is a proven killer to the common house fly. Haha! Be gone you pesky, ear buzzing biter! Sorry, I had to get that out of my system, but it really is  a great addition to bug sprays.

Simple DIY Recipe

You’ll need:
2 oz glass misting bottle
1 tsp of Carrier oil (sweet almond, olive oil, or liquid fractionated coconut oil)
1.5 TBS of distilled water
1 tsp of witch hazel
10-20 drops of essential oils (you can pick your favorites from the list above)

Mix everything in the bottle and shake before each use.

Don’t feel like making your own?

No problem, you can buy a natural bug spray. My bug repellant spray of choice is made with all of the essential oils listed above, and just between you and me, it’s a really good price. (You can find it at the link below.) Other companies sell natural bug sprays too. I haven’t tried all of them but I did try Doterra’s. It worked fine but I just couldn’t justify the price.

This is my favorite bug spray -> Click Here

Honorable mention:

Doterra sells a nice bug repellant spray made from essential oils and coconut oil. They use their own special essential oil blend- so I’m not totally sure what all is in it.

Fall is here! Time for corn mazes and late bonfires. What outdoor activities do you enjoy this time of year?

Shannon Walter

About Shannon Walter -

Wife, Mommy, and Writer are three of the hats Shannon wears on a daily basis. Natural and holistic wellness is her passion. Diving into medical studies, reading long-winded books, and refitting them into information that is valuable to everyday life.

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