5 Natural Insect Repellents for a Bug-Free Summer

Take Charge on 05.28.12
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Photo: KFoodaddict/Creative Commons

Memorial Day is here, ushering in the start of the summer season. If you've had a chance to sit outside, you may have come face to face with some unwelcome guests you haven't seen in a while. Yep, nothing ruins dining outdoors than the never-ending battle against creepy, crawly things that bite. Ouch! Don't fret just yet; here are some good and natural ways to keep those little buggers at bay.

1. Ants. Ants are a nemesis to outdoor fun. To keep these pests from ruining your  garden party, you can use a spray bottle of soapy water to douse them. You can also put cut up cloves of garlic in the cracks of your deck or you can use diatomaceous earth where the ants are most active. And one more secret weapon... cucumber. That's right, apparently it's not just us humans that hate the cucumber rind. So a bit of that around will help ward them off too.

2. Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are known for their nighttime feedings but are also found in the early morning. Do yourself a favor and get rid of standing water, which is a breeding ground for them. Regularly change the water in bird baths or wading pools. And try this trick while cooking; during barbecues, put sage or rosemary on the coals to beat the bites.

3. Flies. If you're bothered by flies, try mint sachets or you can wrap bay leaves, cloves or eucalyptus in cheesecloth and place them in the windows. Make your own flypaper by mixing 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tbsp. of both granulated and brown sugar in a bowl. Soak strips of kraft paper in the mixture and dry overnight. Voila!

4. Insect Spray. You can also make your own insect sprays, perfect for those with sensitive skin. Make mosquito repellent with cinnamon and olive oils. Different combinations of oils and alcohols can be found online and you can mix them with aloe vera gel if you want a little different consistency or feel. Peppermint, citronella, and lavendar lotions are great smelling natural mosquito repellants. They can be used in conjunction with the above mentioned methods for a multi-layered approach.

5. Fleas and Ticks. And let's not forget our furry friends. Pets have to deal with fleas and ticks, especially in the summer months. Pour a cup of boiling water over sliced lemon; make sure to score the peel for all the lemons flea-fighting power. Let it sit overnight, then add the mixture to warm water and sponge it on your dog's coat. Skip this trick with the cat; citrus isn't good for them and we know how they feel about that whole bathing thing.

As with anything an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking a little time to make a few natural remedies to your worst pest problems will help you enjoy your summer. 

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