@story CATHERINE FREDERICK
Buzzzzzzz. Swat! Yep. It’s that time of year again. The insects are back with a vengeance, thanks to our mild winter. I must exude tons of carbon dioxide because I attract pesky buffalo gnats and mosquitoes like flies to… well, you know. And I don’t just get a small little red bump when I get bit. The bite site, usually somewhere really noticeable like the side of my ear or my face, swells up like a blimp then proceeds to itch like crazy and hang around for a week or more. It’s ugly, I tell you. My neighbor has learned to sit next to me in the summer - he knows they’ll attack me first and he’ll be in the clear.
You could spray yourself with poison or lounge around in a full body net. Since I’m a fan of neither, I searched high and low and discovered a few nontoxic anti-beast remedies you should try.
Arrgh! These little buggers are the worst. Vile, tiny, bloodsucking, disease-carrying devils. I’ve searched for years to find a way to annihilate them. I am passing along each deterrent I found.
BANANA BOAT SPORT SUNSCREEN. Evidently it’s the one in an orange bottle. They say it’s worked for everyone who tried it in Natchez, MS. It’s worth a try.
VANILLA. Not the cheap imitation stuff. Pure vanilla. Dilute with water in a spray bottle and spritz away. Must reapply throughout the day.
FABRIC SHEETS AND SOFTENERS. Tuck the sheets in your pockets. Wipe yourself down with them.
One guy I talked to mixed liquid fabric softener with water in a sprayer and sprayed his yard. Said it worked for about a week.
Whip up one of these recipes to keep these little buzzers at bay. Tip: mix up in small batches to make sure they’re always fresh.
MOSQUITE MASH. This is NOT for you to drink, ya’ boozers! In a glass jar, combine ½ cup of vodka, 2-3 tablespoons of fresh basil (1 teaspoon if dried) and one large cinnamon stick, broken into pieces. Steep the concoction for 2 weeks, then add ½ teaspoon of lavender essential oil and stir. Rub the mixture onto exposed body parts, keeping it away from your eyes.
MEOW MIX. Ellen Sandbeck, author of Green Housekeeping (Scribner, 2008), recommends catnip as a natural mosquito repellent. You can purchase it in oil form or grow your own. She recommends mixing a drop of two of catnip oil with 1 tablespoon of olive or jojoba oil, applying it to exposed areas.
LAVENDER LOTION. This one’s for the ladies. Add one teaspoon of lavender essential oil to one cup of unscented hand lotion. Stir until blended. Apply to exposed areas, avoiding the eye and mouth areas.
Moths may not bite people, but they do love fabric. I usually don’t have a clue until I pull out a sweater, only to find it riddled with tiny holes. I remember back in the day, my grandma had mothballs in every closet. Gag, I can still smell those chemical-laden balls of death.
MOTH SACHET Moths can’t stand citrus or lavender scents so grab a few organic lemons and oranges along with some drawstring pouches, or sew your own, and make a few sachets to stash in your closet and drawers. Peel the citrus fruits and tear peels into small pieces. Allow to air dry then mix with several teaspoons of dried lavender buds. You can purchase lavender buds from our local co-op, or online. Cloves, fresh rosemary and bay leaves are also on the list of scents moths steer away from, so think about tossing in some of those as well.
If it’s your indoor or outdoor plants the bugs are buggin’, try this natural remedy. Mix up 2-4 tablespoons of a liquid biodegradable soap- I like Mrs. Meyers in fresh lavender scent - into a bucket of 1 gallon of water. TEST FIRST! Spray the solution on a test area of your plant to ensure it does not harm the leaves. If your plant reacts negatively, reduce the amount of soap in the mixture or avoid using it on that type of plant. Always spray in the early morning, spraying the top and bottom of leaves. Don’t apply to plants that are stressed, when the weather is too hot or when the sun is strong, you’ll risk burning the leaves. This is a great spray for aphids and spider mites, but is safe for beneficial bugs like lady bugs. You can even add some crushed garlic and cayenne pepper to the mix - just keep it away from your eyes.
Hopefully these options will keep pests at bay the natural way. If you know of other tried and true home remedies, send them to editors@AtUrbanMagazine.com. We’d love to share them with our readers.