Most of us love the outdoors and getting away from the stresses of modern life, but there is one thing about trips out of town that no-one likes and that’s the bugs. The temptation is usually to cover ourselves with DEET, even though we know that it’s probably not such a good idea to liberally use a very strong chemical that can irritate our skin. In fact, it has even been found to affect the cognitive abilities of some national park employees in the U.S. who were in the habit of using it frequently.
So is it possible to keep the annoying bugs away without resorting to some repellent that might be harming you. Luckily it is. One way is to cover up, but in the summer heat you probably don’t want to do this. Instead, you can use a natural insect repellent. You might be able to buy one in a shop, but if you want to be absolutely certain what you are covering your body with, then it is easy enough to make your own.
This can be done by mixing a natural oil such as mint, eucalyptus, rosemary, cedar, catnip, thyme or cinnamon oil with witch hazel and then water it down so that there is about 10 times as much water as oil. This will still create a powerful repellent, necessary to keep the insects away, but without the possible side effects of DEET. This means it is still best to spray your clothes rather than bare skin and you shouldn’t use it on under 3s so that it does not harm their skin.
Another even simpler option, and more suitable for young children, is simply to grind up some herbs that have strong insect repelling properties such as thyme, mint, or lavender and rub these against your clothes and skin.
You can also take some simple steps to not attract insects to your tent. Leaving out food, particularly fruit and vegetables is bound to attract them, while a camp fire in the evening can be effective at keeping them away. Just make sure that you follow camp guidelines so that the fire is safe.
Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you will probably end up being bitten once or twice. Again, there are a number of natural ways to reduce the irritation. A suction device such as Aspivenin can be effective if it is used quickly enough after a bite. Otherwise, things such as lemons, garlic and tomatoes are surprisingly effective at relieving the pain. And do your best not to scratch!