It’s spring. With it comes longer days, warmer weather, cookouts, picnics, baseball and creepy-crawly biting insects. The best-known spring stingers include mosquitos and ticks. A bite from one of these insects can cause more than an annoying itch- it can come with a plethora of diseases including West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.
So how do we avoid picking up one of these dreaded diseases? Don’t get bitten! Be careful with those chemical-laden repellent sprays though! They can be just as problematic as the bite itself. Below are some tricks and tips to keep you chemical and bite-free this spring season.
1. DEET-free natural bug repellent
Biting insects are attracted to your scent so applying a smell that is unappealing to them will make you a less desirable meal. Some good options are Tick Tock Naturals Bug Spray, Off Botanical Insect Repellent and Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent. Make sure to re-apply every 4 hours and after swimming.
2. Vitamin B-6
Many believe that taking B-6 can make you a less tasty treat. Studies dating back from the 60’s show a lower incidence of bug bites in those supplementing with B6 than those who don’t, though newer studies refute this fact. Considering that it is estimated that as many as 40% of American’s are B-deficient, which can cause symptoms from lethargy to depression, taking some extra B-Vitamins might do more for you than just repel bugs.
3. DesBio Bug Bouncer
This homeopathic remedy is made with Delphinium (Staphysagria) which is a natural bug repellent. One dropperful under the tongue daily can leave you smelling like, well- Delphinium’s. Like the natural bug sprays above, this may take you off of the insect’s menu. This remedy is also helpful at reducing itching and swelling if you do get bitten.
4. Cistus Tea
This light, caffeine-free tea is known to have many beneficial properties including acting as an antioxidant, having immune boosting benefits as well as acting as an antimicrobial. This do-everything tea allegedly acts as an internal bug repellent as well! Though no independent study has been done on the subject, anecdotally people swear by it. This polyphenol-rich tea can be made into an iced tea, mixed with other teas like green tea or mint tea and can be enjoyed all season long.
5. Permethrin Clothing
If you’re a camper or a hiker you might want to take some extra precautions. Clothing that has been soaked in Permethrin has been shown to be an extremely effective at preventing bug bites. A pilot study in North Carolina showed that the prevalence of tick bites in those not wearing permethrin treated clothing vs those who were was 16:1. Technically considered an insecticide, permethrin is a potent chemical that should not come in direct contact with your skin when in liquid form. The National Pesticide Information Center says that once permethrin has dried on clothing it clings tightly to the fabric and is not absorbed through the skin. A 2009 safety review by the EPA deemed it safe when in the form of factory produced clothing. Typically, the treated clothing is good for up to 70 washes. Some good options here are Bugs Away Clothing or LL Bean Insect Repellent clothing. This is a good option for your those going to summer camp as well!
The big take-away here is that these biting insects should not keep you away from doing the things you love in nature. Take that walk in the woods! Enjoy sitting in the grass. Just take these precautions to keep your risk of exposure to a minimum. And don’t forget to do nightly tick checks!