by guest blogger Toni Becker, member of the Rodale’s editorial team
Being outdoors at this time of year is delightful…until you’re attacked by an unrelenting swarm of pesky insects.
Besides being annoying, pests like mosquitoes and ticks can pose serious health threats, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, and newer threats like Zika are on the rise. Protection is a must when you’re outdoors, but how do you get it without dousing your body in chemicals?
We’ve got you covered with 6 natural ways to keep those pests at bay:
- Spray them away. While DEET is one of the more popular ingredients in conventional bug sprays, its health and safety concerns—which include potential damaging effects on the central nervous system and skin burns and irritations—make it a controversial one. Play it safe and opt for natural repellents made from powerful combinations of essential oils. Healthy alternatives like Wild Seed Apothecary’s Bug & Tick Repellent offer premium protection from a range of insect pests.
- Light a candle. In addition to creating a wonderful ambience, insect-repellent candles help fight the bugs off. They are a great choice for outdoor picnics, campfires, and nights on the patio. This Don’t Bug Me! Organic Insect Repellent Candle offers a skin-safe dose of organic essential oils that drive pests away—and it smells great, too! Use it as a traditional repellent, as well; simply warm the wax with your hands for at least 30 minutes and then apply the oil to the skin.
- Plant some seeds. Never underestimate the power of well-placed foliage. Certain varieties of plants have the power to drive away annoying pests like ticks and mosquitoes. This organic seed set includes lemon balm, English lavender, marigolds, and basil seeds, all of which are known to repel bugs. To ward off ticks, consider planting American beautyberry, a bush that’s easily grown in many climates.
- Tidy up your yard. Pesky bugs, particularly ticks, love overgrown grass, piles of brush, and messy woodpiles. Discourage insect infestations by mowing your lawn, stashing brush piles away from your home, elevating woodpiles, keeping your yard free of pet waste and garbage, and regularly cleaning birdbaths.
- Encourage the “right kinds” of predators. Not all bugs are bad. Some insects will prey upon and help eliminate the bugs you don’t want. Birds are helpful allies, too! Find houses for beneficial bugs and birds to bring these helpful friends to your yard! You can also attract pollinating bees to your garden with an Urban Bee House. If your yard has the wrong kinds of flying insects, such as stinging wasps, try a Glass Wasp Trap to get rid of them.
- Wear the right clothes. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe footwear offers great protection against biting bugs. Also, mosquitoes are more attracted to people wearing dark-color clothes because they can spot them more easily, so opt for lighter-color duds when you plan to be outdoors.
Toni Becker is a part-time content creator at Rodale’s. She is also the personal chef, event planner, chauffeur, and best of all playmate to her young daughter. Her family of three lives in the woods where she finds time to write, cook anything she can from scratch, garden, and build her case of why she needs goats.