Bug Off! - Safe and Effective Insect Repellents

Ticks are no joke and can make you very sick.

Its that time of year when bugs are starting to be out in full force.  If you live in the Mississippi Delta, you more than familiar with mosquito season that can encompass all 4 seasons of the year.  I have honestly seen mosquitos out in January in the Delta.  And if you think mosquitos are the worst, you are mistaken.  I was bitten by a tick on our Easter weekend camping trip.   I don't know if they are 'the worst', but they are way up there for me.  So, what do you do to protect yourself against ticks and mosquitos?

First, you are going to need to apply something to protect yourself.  I wore long sleeves, socks, tennis shoes, and jeans when I was bitten recently by that tick.  The weather was cool.  So, I thought that there was little risk of ticks or mosquitos.  While there were no mosquitos to be seen, my husband pulled a tick off of me that evening before bed.  Those things are no joke!  I'm still itching and have a place on my side from that bite.

We are arming ourselves with more than one product for this spring and summer camping season.  I actually had some of these products with me on this trip and just forgot to apply.  I'm pretty sure that I won't after this trip.  I had a slightly mild freakout, and the constant itching from this tick bite is more than a gentle reminder to be smarter!

Sawyer insect repellant is used on your clothing.  Spray on your clothes and allow it to dry.  It will last for up to 6 weeks or 6 washes.  

Treat Your Clothes

Sawyer makes a spray just for your clothing that can last for up to 6 washes or 6 weeks.  The active ingredient is Picaridin.  You spray your clothing with the repellant.  It dries colorless and odorless.  It is designed to repel both ticks and mosquitos as well as other insects.  I like this because ticks are going to crawl up your clothes and under them to get to you and bite you.  This is a great way to keep yourself safe. 

Sawyer's repellant is designed to make those critters run and stay away from you!  And since ticks like to crawl into your clothing, this makes me feel a lot safer.  This product will create a barrier through your clothing once applied that is safe and effective.  A friend told me about this product, and I am so glad he did!  He said that you can see insects crawling up your leg and once they reach your clothes just dropping off.  

Treat exposed skin with natural products like a Seed Geeks natural Bug Off Lotion Bar.

Treat Your Body

If you still want to apply something to exposed places on your skin, there are Deet free solutions that you can try.  I honestly think exposed skin applications are important.  This will protect your arms and legs from mosquito bites, gnats and other insects that you might not be aware of. 

Seed Geeks makes a Bug Off Lotion Bar that you can apply directly to the skin that is made of essential oils.  It is readily available on Etsy.  This is a safe alternative that you can apply to children as well as adults.  

Repel Plant Based Spray is made with essential oils.  It is another alternative to Deet that you can use and spray onto your exposed skin.  It lasts up to 6 hours so you might have to reapply during the day depending on your time outdoors.

Repel makes products that are both Deet free and with low percentages of Deet.  You can choose the products that are right for you.

How Much Deet Is Safe

Some will tell you that no Deet is safe.  Others say that you can use up to 30% Deet in an insect repellant.  I am not a scientist.  But, I do live in the deep south, and I used to run behind the mosquito truck to be sprayed to keep mosquitos off of me as a child.  So, maybe what I say next is to be taken with a grain of salt.  You can make up your own mind about products that have Deet.  Here is what I learned after researching it:
  • Use products with Deet sparingly.
  • Don't apply these products to a child's hands or a near their face and mouth.
  • You might not want to apply them to a child at all.
  • Read the label and use no more than 30% Deet in a product that is used as a repellant.  
  • Look for alternative products that work just as effectively.
  • But if you find alternatives are not working, you might try a low percentage of products to avoid mosquitos and ticks depending on where you live and the threat of disease.  
  • And always use caution if you are pregnant or elderly.
Again, I'm not a doctor or scientist.  But, I live in an area of the country that is overrun with mosquitos and ticks.  I don't know what is worse, Deet or the diseases the insects bring.  I'm not advocating for pesticides that are harmful.  I just know how harmful some of these insects are.  It's a fine line. 

Whatever you do, make sure you have products to product your family this summer!

Your Summertime Insect Safety Plan

To keep yourself and your family safe this summer outdoors, I advise the following:
  1. Treat your clothing with a product like Sawyers before camping trips to try and prevent insects from being attracted to your clothing.
  2. Treat exposed areas of your body with a natural repellant.
  3. Reapply repellants as needed to exposed skin areas during the day.
  4. Check your body at the end of the day for ticks.  Be sure to check children as well.
  5. Keep a pair of tweezers handy for removing ticks if you should get one on your body to remove it.
  6. Once you find products that work well for you keep them handy so that you always have them.  Make sure that you have the products you need for backyard barbeques, ballgames and more.  
  7. Share!  You will be amazed at how many people are unprepared for being outdoors.  If you are hosting a party at home, have some repellants people can spray and use at home in a basket that is handy.
Finally, I would avoid products like those little bracelets that are supposed to repel bugs.  They really don't work that great, and won't do what you need it to for being outdoors for extended periods.  To really arm yourself against insects, you are going to have more coverage than a wristlet.  Spend your money elsewhere.

What do you use to protect your family from ticks and mosquitos in the summer?  I am trying to do a better job of arming us for summer fun.  Tick and mosquito bites are no joke.  

Until next time...

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