More and more people are changing their lifestyles and eliminating as many chemicals and toxins around them as possible. But, since chemicals are all around us from the beauty products and cleaning supplies we use to the food we consume and the air we breathe, it is not that easy to do. Every little bit helps, and some changes are easier than others, like using naturally-made DEET-free mosquito control and repelling products over chemical ones.
Pest control products like bug sprays, mosquito fogger systems and insecticides are very toxic, especially to the environment. So by switching to the more natural versions of these products, you will be able to decrease the amount of chemicals that are polluting our rivers, lakes and even air. Let’s look at the some of the main differences between natural and synthetic mosquito repellents and also how to properly use natural bug spray to get the most out of the products.
Chemical vs. Natural Mosquito Repellents
As you might guess, the main difference between natural and artificial insect repellents is the ingredients that are used to produce each type of product. If in chemical sprays the main active ingredients often are either DEET or Picaridin, then in green bug sprays the mosquito repelling abilities of the products come from different essential oils, usually oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella oil or lemongrass oil.
How do Natural Mosquito Repellents Work?
Now, you might be wondering, how can these natural plant oils deter mosquitoes? Well they do that thanks to their aroma. All of the most common essential oils used in natural mosquito repellents have distinct scents. They usually smell citrus-like and fresh. And, since mosquitoes distaste these types of aromas, and would much rather go for flowery, sweet scents, once you apply the natural insect repellent on your skin or clothing, mosquitoes will keep away from you.
DEET: Not good for People or the Planet
The second difference of the two types of repellents is how healthy they are in regards to human health as well as the environment. As we already established, synthetic insect repellents usually contain laboratory-made chemicals. DEET is a member of the tuolene chemical family which are solvents used in plastic and rubber cements as well as paint removers. They can pass through the skin and into the bloodstream, getting all the way to the gut. It is also harmful if inhaled or consumed, or sprayed on other living creatures, like cats and dogs. The most troubling concern is the adverse effects it can have on the nervous system. The combination of DEET and permethrin, another common mosquito spray ingredient, has been shown to lead to motor deficits, and learning and memory disorders. Is this something we want to spray on our children? Of course, sprays made of natural ingredients may have an adverse effect on some people. Those with sensitivities may get a skin rash or experience other reactions if they are allergic to one or more of the ingredients in the natural bug sprays. However, the likeliness of that happening is much smaller than when you use insect repellent based on DEET or any other chemically-made bug deterring ingredient. Which I think is a reason enough to go for natural insecticide.
Natural Bug Sprays Can Be Just As Effective, If Used Properly
And the third big difference when it comes to chemical and natural pest control is how efficient each type of product is and for how long it will be able to repel mosquitoes. Although, chemical bug sprays may last longer than natural ones, their efficiency is a different story. Many natural bug sprays are just as efficient as chemical sprays, but they don’t last as long and have to be reapplied more often than their synthetic counterparts. To me, the fact that I’ll have to reapply the repellent a bit more frequently doesn’t bother me compared to the damaging effects of chemical bug sprays on my family and the environment. But how do you make sure that you are using your natural repellent to its full potential?
First and foremost, read the label of the product. There should be information about how you should apply the product, how often it needs to be reapplied, if it is waterproof or not and other important bits of knowledge that will help you get the most out of your spray. Secondly, don’t forget to reapply the mosquito repellent, because, you will probably only get a few hours of efficiency after which the mosquitoes will start bugging you again. And thirdly, don’t overdo it with the application of the repellent – it won’t make it magically work better. All it will do is create an unnecessary layer of repellent on your skin which can start to irritate it.
Which Brand Of Natural Bug Spray Do We Recommend?
We love the Mercola Bug Spray for the whole family, including our pets! I use it daily on my dogs to keep ticks off them. I still find a tick on them here and there, but certainly not daily anymore. My sister uses it on her cat for the same reasons with equally good results. There are only four ingredients, oil of citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and vanillin. It has a pleasant lemony scent. The best news is it beat DEET in a lab test performed by BassFan Lab. The results are below:
- Unprotected group: 16 bites per hour
- DEET group: 2.78 bites per hour
- Mercola Bug Spray group: < 1 bite per hour (1/5 bite per hour)
Mercola Bug Spray was the clear winner and is an excellent choice for you and your family and pets. But, as stated, it does need to be applied every 2-3 hours for best results.
Overall, choosing to use natural bug sprays over chemical ones does have more pros than cons to you as well as to the environment and everyone around you. But, of course, ultimately it is your decision. And no matter if you do decide on organic bug spray or stick to a synthetic one, wearing any type of pest control in the spring and summer is much better and safer than not using any at all.
Guest blog by Insect Cop