Bugs are an expected, albeit not always fun, part of spring. But, according to the National Pest Management Association, 2017 is going to be a particularly bad year for mosquitoes and ticks, due to fluctuating weather patterns and particularly warm winters. As kids head outside for the season, it's more important than ever to stock up on products to keep bugs at bay.
But many commonly used bug sprays are less than great for the environment, and may contain harmful toxins. Never fear! Healthier, environmentally-friendlier products and do-it-yourself techniques exist. Here is a list of six healthy and eco-friendly ways to keep bugs away from your family this spring.
1. Modern bug-repellent candles smell good enough to use indoors
Citronella fumes are a common backdrop to many outdoor gatherings and camping trips. But gone are the days of slow-burning, barely-effective stinkers. Nowadays, bug-repellent candles smell just as good as any other variety of scented candles--good enough to use indoors as well as out!
In fact, one brand, called Aromaflage actually started off selling bug-repellent perfume before moving on to candles. The brand boasts all-natural ingredients and beautiful designs that could easily blend into any living room or garden party.
Another great place to look for unique, pretty, all-natural bug-repellent candles? Etsy! Many sellers who specialize in organic and eco-friendly goods offer handmade candles at reasonable prices.
2. Lawn granules can save your ankles
Ticks lurk in tall grass, while mosquitoes fly low to the ground. This means bad news for unprotected ankles on the lawn. But mowing is hard work that often makes shorts a necessity. Luckily, there is an effective way to guard your ankles, without even slathering anything onto your skin.
They're called "lawn granules," or "bug cystals." They are biodegradable, and use natural scents to drive bugs away. Usually, they are created to target one specific kind of bug, leaving the bugs you don't want to get rid of unaffected.
Several brands, including Bonide, have granules made from all-natural ingredients. The effects of the granules can last up to three full weeks, depending on weather.
3. Bugs inside your home? Try insect control kits
When bugs wake up during spring, they don't always stay outside. If you're dealing with bugs on the inside of your home, a gentle hand may be advisable. The same harsh, potentially-unhealthy chemicals typically found in traditional bug sprays can often be found in indoor insect repellents as well.
If you're concerned about pets and young children, why not consider an all-natural insect control kit? These kits can contain products from liquids, granules and specially-curated dusts to keep insects at bay, and you can apply them in whatever amount you choose. If you're looking for something USDA Certified Organic for safe indoor use, try the "Natural and Organic" section of the DoMyOwnPestControl shop.
4. Insect soaps keep bugs out of the garden
Gardening can be a great way to teach kids all sorts of valuable lessons about sustainable living. But it's hard to teach anything in a garden overrun by bugs. Caterpillars and other hungry grubs eager to eat up your hard work are bad enough, but other pests, such as mosquitoes, may be lurking in the carrot greens to add insult to injury.
Regular bug repellents, even those made with natural ingredients, may be too harsh for sensitive plants. It may be wise to opt for repellents that are specially-formulated for garden use. Garden soaps are a great option here. Easy to apply, they are safe for kids, plants and pets, and several brands, such as Safer, offer soaps which use all-natural or even organic ingredients.
5. Customize repellents by making them at home
You know the phrase. "If you want something done right...." Well, the Internet is full of recipes for do-it-yourself bug repellents! From liquids to powders, the recipes can be found in all sorts of scents, with all sorts of ingredients. One particularly popular recipe calls for just four ingredients, all of them natural. You can even select your own scent by choosing which essential oil to include in the recipe! The biggest perk to homemade repellents may be the peace of mind they provide. It's easy to know that what you're putting on your kids or in your home is safe if you made it yourself.
6. Portable sprays can come without toxins
Maybe you don't have time or energy to create a DIY bug repellent, or you're looking for something more widely-available that is easy to shop for and easy to take on-the-go? Even though traditional bug sprays have gotten a bad name recently, brands which use harmful chemicals are no longer the only players in the game.
Brands like EcoSmart and Honest offer sprays with natural ingredients and fewer overall ingredients than their traditional counterparts. There are even sprays which come in bottles made from recycled plastic. Some things really do change!