Monday, July 18, 2011

Bugs Be Gone!

In an effort to use fewer chemicals in all aspects of gardening, I have been testing two natural bug repellents. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent spray (for skin and clothing), and Bug Band insect repellent band (which you can wear on your wrist, ankle, belt loop), both sold by REI for $9, and $5, respectively. So far, I’ve had good results, with no bites; but not without noticing strong smells.

Both of these products utilize plant derived repellents. The Lemon Eucalyptus is a natural bug repellent that I could only find at REI, after reading lots of promising research data on-line. The bug band uses Geraniol, derived from Geranium, which is a fairly common ‘natural’ bug repellent ingredient.

Lemon Eucalyptus is touted to be as effective as DEET for a short periods of time. Once applied, the odor is more pleasant than DEET, but still quite pungent. The bug band also has an odor, not as pleasant as the eucalyptus spray, but not as strong either. The advantage to the band is that can be removed easily, though traces of the scent linger. (I've been wearing the band around a belt loop.)

As someone who works outside frequently, I take the health risks posed by ticks and mosquitoes very seriously. At the same time, I want to limit my exposure to chemicals, like DEET, which may affect the nervous system. These plant-based options seem to be a good balance between effectiveness and healthfulness.

The photo is one of my Hollyhocks, which have been in bloom for several weeks now.

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