Are there safe and effective alternatives to using mosquito repellent containing DEET? Picnics, barbeques, hiking, camping, and dining al fresco are just some of the activities that we all enjoy during the summer season. Unfortunately, the onset of warmer weather also signals the arrival of pesky insects such as mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks.
For years, insect repellents containing the active ingredient DEET were the only product available that actually worked well to keep insects away. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) DEET is considered safe and does not present a health concern when used properly. However, many people feel uncomfortable using what is perceived to be such a toxic chemical on their skin, even for a short period of time.
Citronella and Other Essential Oils
Although oil of citronella has been used as an insect repellent since the late 1940s, it was not widely available in commercial products such as sprays or lotions until fairly recently. There are currently several insect repellents containing citronella on the market including Natrapel Insect Repellent and Herbal Armor, which contain 10 and 12% citronella respectively.
Citronella candles actually work quite well without having to douse your entire body with insect repellent, but in order to really work well, you need to surround your self with a large grouping of candles both on the ground and up high--so plan accordingly.
Eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and rosemary are essential oils that also appear to be effective in repelling insects. Never apply essential oils directly to the skin. Instead, add a few drops to some jojoba oil, which doesn't leave an oily residue on the skin like some of the other oils do.
In order to be as effective as DEET, the concentrations of essential oils need to be much higher. In addition, products that use essential oils for protection from insects do not last as long and must be reapplied frequently-sometimes as often as every 15 minutes!
Bite Blocker Repellent is a popular and highly effective natural insect repellent that has been on the market for nearly ten years. The active ingredients in Bite Blocker are geranium oil and soybean oil in a water, coconut oil, and glycerin base. According to the package label, scientific studies have proven it more effective in repelling mosquitoes and black flies than a 7% concentration of DEET, provided it is reapplied every two hours.
The Bug Ban, a simple wristband made of recycled plastic permeated with essential oils of citronella, geranium, and lemongrass is a new product that is scheduled to begin selling in stores in 2006. It is purported to keep insects away for up to 48 hours.
Don't get bored in the great outdoors. With many things to do while camping, you can have a jam-packed nature-filled vacation.
Kids' activities while camping make a dull trip into an adventure.