Remember the good ole days where the higher the deet in your mosquito repellant, the better it worked? I do – vaguely. Seems that it not only worked on blocking the insect’s senses, but also screwed with our neurological systems. How do we block these bloodsuckers without going insane, both at the time and later in life? Turns out their are natural insect repellants that can help you avoid diet and bites.
The deal with deet
As reported in Natural News:
“The chemical known as deet (for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is found in nearly every commonly used mosquito repellent in the world, and eight billion doses have been applied since its introduction to the consumer market in 1957. The chemical deet was originally developed as an insect repellent by the U.S. Army in 1946, following experience with jungle warfare in World War II."
So, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (say that fast 3-times), or deet, was originally for the Army’s defense against jungle insects. That, and it doubled as an effective close range nerve gas. Nice.
How safe is deet?
Of course, it depends on who you ask. However, if you have any level of discernment (which those using deet for a number of years probably don’t due to neurological damage), it’s blatantly obvious that it should be the last method you employ, considering the following, again from Natural News:
“Researchers have long insisted that the chemical is safe, (but) they still recommend that consumers use the minimum amount of repellent necessary to cover exposed skin or clothing, and that deet repellents not be applied directly to any irritated or injured skin. While the United States allows the sale of 100 percent deet repellents, many other countries limit maximum concentrations of the chemical to 30 or 50 percent."
If it were perfectly safe, why would you need to be cautioned to use the minimum amount? To give the mosquito’s a fighting chance of finding you? Also, why would other countries limit the amount of deet? Are they too concerned for the mosquito’s plight for human blood?
Either way, I’d be overly suspicious.
The news gets worse. Again, from Natural News:
“In experiments performed in cockroaches and rats, the researchers found that deet blocked the action of the neurological enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This is the same mechanism that causes the toxic effects of popular carbamate and organophosphate pesticides, as well as chemical weapons such as sarin and VX nerve gas. This may mean that deet repellants are actually insecticides and could damage the human nervous system."
“Organophosphates are among the pesticides most commonly implicated in pesticide poisoning worldwide, and are also a commonly used suicide method in agricultural areas. Like nerve gases, organophosphates irreversibly inactivate acetylcholinesterase, leading to excessive salivation and eye watering at low doses, and muscle spasms or death at higher doses. Although carbamates are not as toxic as organophosphates, their effects can be just as severe at high enough doses."
What are my options?
Fortunately, there are a few and they are relatively inexpensive and not too offensive (certainly less offensive than the smell of toxic gas).
Your best options are to find a natural mosquito repellant that uses essential oils in their mixture that have been known to keep the bugs away. If you are more of a purist, you can search directly for pure essential oils of citronella, cedarwood, lemon, patchouli, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, mint, or clove. Yes you may smell like candles, bark, a citrus grove, and ginger snaps, but at least its safe, natural, and less offensive than deet.
Otherwise, wear light clothing (or a heavy tarp – again, for the Saskatchewan folk) and hope that you don’t smell delicious to the local insect. From personal experience, mosquitos are often much less attracted to you the healthier you are, provided you aren’t wearing anything (fragrances) that may attract them.
Natural Insect Repellant Recipes
Depending on where you live and the ferocity of the insects you are trying to avoid, there are 2 solutions with different strengths.
Moderate Insect Repellant
- Fill spray bottle with distilled or boiled water (8 oz) and add 50 drops of essential oil for upper level of strength. Try any essential oils mentioned above, but a nice mix is lavender, eucalyptus, and mint.
Strong Insect Repellant
- Ingredients: 32 oz bottle of apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp of dried sage, mint, leveller, thyme, and rosemary
- Directions: Put apple cider vinegar and dried herbs into glass jar. Seal and shake every day for 2 weeks. Following 2 weeks, strain out the herbs and place in jar and put in fridge as your repellant “concentrate”. When preparing final solution, mix concentrate and water in 50/50 solution and place in spray bottle.