Living in a tropical environment can have its drawbacks – one of which is BUGS! I’m told the swarms of gnats and mosquitoes plaguing us the past few weeks is not typical (in such quantities) for the area, which is a relief. Meanwhile, it’s something we have to deal with, and I know many of you live in areas where this is a common (though not pleasant) occurrence.
Personally, the smell of store-bought bug repellents makes me so nauseated and gives me a headache to the point that I actually would rather just suffer through the bug bites than deal with those side effects. Even if my body could tolerate the smell, some of the chemical ingredients concern me, especially with the thought of exposing my kids to them. In the past, I’ve reserved use of bug repellents to camping trips and avoided the outdoors during peak bug activity times (early morning and dusk). In the areas I’ve lived before, this worked pretty well for me.
Now, between the monsoon rains and the bug swarms, our exposure to the outdoors has been pretty limited, mostly just to getting from house to truck and back, for the past couple of days – and I’m still getting eaten alive by these nasty critters at all times of the day! My kids and I are all craving some fresh air and outside play/exercise, so I started doing some research as to the best remedies for the swollen, itchy bites we’ve already suffered, as well as a way to prevent them with stuff most of us already have in our kitchens – saving the hassle of having to search stores or wait for an online purchase to arrive. Here’s what I found. I can already vouch for the lemon juice to stop itching – I’m using this pretty religiously at this point! It does work but needs to be reapplied every couple of hours. I plan to try some of the repellents soon. I have read that different methods work for some people and not for others, just because of the way they react with our personal chemistry, so if you try one and it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to go ahead and try another! Please post in the comments section below to share your past experience or findings after trying any of these food remedies! We’d love to hear what’s worked for you (and what’s not!) ~ Leah
Vanilla Extract: Dab onto pulse points or mix with water and spray onto skin to repel mosquitoes.
Cider Vinegar: Use alone or diluted with water; rub or spray onto skin.
Lemon/orange peel: Rub onto skin.
Lemon juice: Use lemon wedge or cotton ball soaked in lemon juice to rub onto skin. This one does double duty if you already have bites to treat and are on your way back outside!
Basil: Crush leaves to release oils and rub all over exposed skin and clothing. Also, having basil plants placed around your outdoor seating area will help keep bugs at bay. (Plus, having fresh basil on hand is nice for salads and pasta dishes! Here’s my favorite pasta salad recipe, which is delicious topped with fresh basil.)
Peppermint: Make a spray by boiling 1 c. distilled water with 3-4 sprigs fresh (or 4 tbsp. dried) peppermint. (Here’s a fun chocolate dessert recipe you can use that peppermint plant for, too!) Cover and cool. Strain herbs from water, then mix water with 1 c. witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in cool place (fridge is good – keep in cooler during outdoor excursions).
Eat – Adding these foods to your diet will affect your body chemistry in a way that repels bugs!
Brewer’s yeast: Sprinkle on top of oatmeal or blend into smoothies
Garlic: Add to sauces, veggies, meats, pasta dishes. Mix with unsalted butter and spread on whole grain bread.
Foods containing vitamin B1 (thiamin): Oatmeal, wheat germ or wheat bran (sprinkle on oatmeal, yogurt, cold whole grain cereals, granola), whole wheat flour, whole grain/stone ground cornmeal (use to make cornbread or grits)
Garlic: Rub mashed garlic onto bites to eliminate pain and itchiness.
White vinegar or cider vinegar: Apply to mosquito bites to alleviate itch/pain.
Lemons/lemon juice: Rub on bites to soothe itching.
Don’t forget to comment below – have you tried any of these? Did they work for you? Are there any you hadn’t known about that you’re excited to try now?
Resources: The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Chemistry About.com, Mayo Clinic, wellnessmama.com