The man-made chemical compound called N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, also known as DEET, is found in most insect repellents. It’s been proven to deter insects such as mosquitoes, black flies, ticks, and fleas. Repelling these insects means a significant decrease in your chances of contracting malaria, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and many other insect-borne illnesses.
Developed by the U.S. Military more than fifty years ago to protect our soldiers from mosquito-borne illnesses, scientists are unsure of how DEET actually works. Insects are attracted to humans through body heat, carbon dioxide, and body odor and DEET somehow repels them, not kill.
Some say DEET is more harmful than beneficial. It could cause nerve damage, severe skin irritation such as blistering or burning, and water pollution. One website even reports that DEET causes plastic to melt. But a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 states that normal use of DEET is not a health concern to adults and children as long as consumers read all labels and follow instructions.
Alternatives to DEET
But, why take a chance and use pesticides that contain DEET on your skin? There are alternatives to using them. Planting certain flowers and herbs can help keep pesky warm weather insects away. Here are just some of them:
Ageratum – Flowering annual that mosquitoes avoid
Basil – Basil has oils which repel flies and mosquitoes
Catnip – Perennial with exceptional ability to prevent mosquitoes
Chrysanthemums – Perennial controls roaches, aphids, ticks, silverfish, lice and fleas
Citronella – This perennial grass is more powerful than the candle and is good for keeping mosquitoes away
Geraniums – These annuals repel Japanese beetles
Horsemint (Bee Balm) – This perennial plant gives off an odor and is not liked by mosquitoes
Lavender – Usually a perennial, good for keeping mosquitoes, gnats and fleas away
Marigolds – Ornamental annual good for preventing many insects
Pennyroyal – A type of mint, this creeping herbal perennial smells like spearmint and is useful as a general insect repellant
Bug Insects with Essential Oils
You can also make your own natural insect repellent. You’ll just need an empty spray bottle, essential oils, and a base of water or oil. Water should be boiled or distilled, and vodka or witch hazel can be substituted. For oils, use grapeseed, olive, sunflower or coconut oil. 2 tablespoons of oil should be enough, though you could add more if you wanted.
Here’s a partial list of popular essential oils to choose from:
These essential oils are known to be natural insect repellents.
Here are some easy recipes to get started:
For an easy mosquito repellent, mix two teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract and one cup of distilled or boiled water in a spray bottle.
Eight ounces of distilled or boiled water in a spray bottle with about another eight ounces of witch hazel.
Make 30 to 50 drops of essential oils (whatever scent you want) and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
Mix 2 tablespoons of vodka or witch hazel with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add ½ teaspoon of vodka if you haven’t used vodka already and add 100 drops of any or combined essential oil.
Place 2 ounces of distilled or boiled water in spray bottle. Add 1 ounce of witch hazel or vodka then about 50 to 75 drops of essential oils; any combination of the above oils should work. If you wish for it to be less strong of a mixture, just add fewer drops.
You can find more recipes are here …
You can also purchase natural insect repellent without harsh chemicals – but why bother when you can make it quickly and easily for a fraction of the cost?