Last year here in Dallas Mosquitoes were the hot topic all summer and this year not much has changed. Last summer, we had an outbreak of West Nile Virus, and people were taking very harsh measures to avoid being bitten. The city of Dallas, and many surrounding suburbs began aerial spraying for them. In fact, last year I had to take off four days of work to leave town every time they sprayed. My daughter was very young and I did not want her breathing in the toxic pesticides. They might kill mosquitoes, but do you think they it's safe for you? Of course not!
So what are we to do to avoid them? Even the spray you buy at stores is loaded with toxins if it has DEET and other harsh chemicals. There are natural sprays, my wife actually even made one at home. Most commercial insect repellants contain a chemical known as DEET, which should be used with caution, if at all. Many studies have found DEET to have harmful effects.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks to keeping biting bugs at bay, and they don't involve applying toxic chemicals to your skin.
Simple Preventative Measures to Avoid Mosquito Bites
You can avoid most assaults by staying inside around dawn and dusk, which is when they are most active. If you must be out during those times, wear light-colored, long sleeved shirts and long pants, hats and socks. Mosquitoes are also thicker in shrubby areas and near standing water.
Body temperature and skin chemicals like lactic acid also attract mosquitoes, which explains why you’re more likely to be “eaten alive” when you’re sweaty, such as during or after exercise, so trying to stay as cool and dry as you can may help to some degree. You may also want to forgo bananas during mosquito season. According to Dr. Janet Starr Hull, “there’s something about how your body processes the banana oil that attracts these female sugar-loving insects.”
She also recommends supplementing with one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Research also suggests that regularly consuming garlic or garlic capsules may help protect against both mosquito and tick bites. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has a helpful factsheet of things you can do to prevent mosquito breeding on your property. The Three D’s of protection from mosquitoes are:
Drain—Mosquitoes require water in which to breed, so carefully drain any and all sources of standing water around your house and yard, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage and recycling bins, spare tires, bird baths and so on.
Dress—Light colored, loose fitting clothing offer the greatest protection.
Defend—While the AMCA recommends using commercial repellents, I highly recommend avoiding most chemical repellents, especially those containing DEET. Instead, try some of the natural alternatives suggested in this article.
Steer Clear of Chemical Repellents,
Especially DEETCurrently, DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is used in more than 230 different products -- in concentrations of up to an astounding 100 percent. If a chemical melts plastic or fishing line, it's not wise to apply it to your skin -- and that is exactly what DEET does.
Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia spent 30 years researching the effects of pesticides. He discovered that prolonged exposure to DEET can impair cell function in parts of your brain -- demonstrated in the lab by death and behavioral changes in rats with frequent or prolonged DEET use. Children are particularly at risk for subtle brain changes because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals in the environment and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems. Other potential side effects DEET exposure include:
Memory loss, Headache, Muscle weakness and fatigue, Shortness of breath, Muscle and joint pain, Tremors. Another potentially harmful chemical found in many bug sprays is permethrin. This chemical is a member of the synthetic pyrethroid family, all of which are neurotoxins. The EPA has even deemed this chemical carcinogenic, capable of causing lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems, and chromosomal abnormalities. Permethrin is also damaging to the environment, and it is particularly toxic to bees and aquatic life. It should also be noted that permethrin is highly toxic to cats.
Even a few drops can be lethal to your feline pet. It is used as an ingredient in some topical flea products, so when you see "for dogs only" on the label, it likely contains permethrin. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released an extensive review of the safety (or lack thereof) of virtually all bug repellant ingredients.
Keeping Insects at Bay the Natural Way
Fortunately, there are highly effective repellents on the market comprised of natural botanical oils and extracts that are every bit as effective as DEET, but with none of the potentially harmful effects. You can also make your own repellent using:
Sources and References
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