Are bugs bugging you? Don’t reach for the DEET just yet. Try these easy tricks to safely prevent pests (and if they still come around, we have three tips to naturally soothe any bites or stings).
Tips to Keep Bugs from Biting:
1. Protect your child by covering that delicate skin with lightweight, long sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Insects may be attracted to floral prints. Choose light, solid colored fabrics.
2. Mosquitoes are usually most active at dusk and just before dawn. Avoid playing outside during these peak hours.
3. Keep your window and door screens in good repair. When possible keep your child protected indoors or behind mosquito netting.
4. If eating outside, use an outdoor fan to blow away mosquitoes.
5. To reduce mosquito breeding near your home, plant scented geraniums, lemon thyme, marigold, tansy, citrosa plants, sweet basil and/or sassafras.
6. Eliminate common mosquito breeding sites such as sources of standing water (old tires, pools, plastic pots, buckets, garbage cans or clogged roof gutters). Change water in birdbaths every other day.
7. Make your yard friendly for natural predators such as ladybugs, bats, dragonflys, praying mantis, spiders and birds. Stock a pond with goldfish or freshwater minnows.
8. Use yellow light bulbs (non-attractive, to bugs) in outdoor fixtures.
9. Fragrances attract insects. Avoid using scented products (such as soap or shampoo) on your child or yourself.
10. Choose safer bug repellent products (but consider efficacy if you have local insect-borne disease risks.) SafeMama.com has a great guide to natural bug repellents.
Tips for Soothing Bug Bites (from Herbal Household Remedies)
Tea tree oil. If you are stung, remove the stinger if there is one. Apply tea tree oil liberally in a circular motion surrounding the entry point — be gentle touching the point of entry! Let dry and the pain and swelling should ease in two to three minutes. Re-apply if needed.
Baking soda. Mix baking soda with water to form a paste. Again, remove the stinger and apply the paste. Cover with a gauze bandage or paper towel and tape. Leave on for one half hour or more until the pain is gone.
Onion. Relieve the itch from bug bites with an onion. The sulfur in onions neutralizes the chemicals that cause the itch. Simply slice a yellow onion in half and rub one of the cut sides on the bite. The itching should stop immediately. Refrigerate the onion in a sealed container to use again if the itching resumes. Make a fresh slice before reapplying it.
Vinegar. Good for spider bites too. Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and place it over the spider/bug bite. If you get bites on your hand or foot, put the soaked cotton ball in a bag and put your infected hand/foot in the bag over night. Make sure that the bag is not tight around the wrist/ankle. As an alternative, you may hold the soaked cotton ball in place by a band aid. By morning, the swelling and/or soreness should be gone as if you had hardly been bitten at all.
Note: Even when using natural bug repellents or remedies, watch for reactions. Some people have sensitivities. Always watch for reactions after bites and stings, also. If you notice any abnormal swelling or other signs of a serious allergic reaction, call 911, because some people can die from bites/stings if they are not treated immediately.