- Natural Insect Control
Natural Insect Control
Natural Insect Control
from Health Store News
Camping, hiking, picnicking and other outdoor activities head up many people's lists of favorite Spring and Summer pastimes.
However, nothing can ruin an outdoor adventure faster than swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes or clouds of biting black flies. Not only are these insects annoying, but their bites can be painful - and even hazardous - as many diseases are transmitted by insect bites.
Luckily, many natural herbs and grasses provide proven defense against biting and stinging insects. Essential oils - steam extracted from plants - are the basis for the new all-natural repellents that are becoming the preferred method of insect defense for health conscious consumers.
It isn't always clear why these oils work. "They're very possibly the plants' protection against predators," says Mark Blumenthal, director of the American Botanical Council.
What is clear, however, is that essential oils actually do repel bugs. "In order to get EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approval for Buzz Away as a registered repellent we had to do extensive efficacy testing," says David Shaw, Founder of Quantum Health, the manufacturers of this extremely popular natural repellent. "Volunteers sprayed their arms with Buzz Away and then plunged them into cages filled with ravenous, female mosquitoes. Buzz Away repelled the bugs for over two hours."
Natural repellents are gaining popularity as reports accumulate about the dangers of chemical repellents. According to Rose Soloway of the National Capital Poison Center at Georgetown University, there were 6256 reported poison exposures from chemical repellents in 1994. Over two thirds of these were poisonings that occurred in children aged six or under.
"DEET" (di-ethyl-meta-toluamide) is one chemical used in most mainstream repellents. DEET can melt plastic parkas, destroy fishing line and is rapidly absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.
While many people have used DEET-based products safely, others have suffered side effects ranging from rashes and hives to muscle spasms and uncontrollable twitching. "There was an instance where exposure to DEET caused six cases of brain damage in girls aged one through six - and three of them died," reports EPA toxicologist Michael Watson.
In recent years, the EPA has approved several natural products as "registered insect repellents." Natural bug repellents use essential plant oils to battle pesky insects. Citronella, a pungent grass from Southeast Asia is a common ingredient. Other plant oils - including cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemon grass and peppermint - help provide a broad spectrum of protection.
The use of aromatic oils for insect defense has another benefit - great smell! The harsh chemical odor of regular insect sprays is replaced with a gentler, natural aroma.
Remember to use these common-sense guidelines when applying essential oil insect repellents:
- Reapply often. The repellency is based on the scent, so make sure to use as much as you need.
- Use safely. These products are natural, but essential oils are powerful. Don't drink them or spray them in your eyes.
- Most of all, get outdoors and have fun.