Photo by trebol-a
I Have Nothing Against Most Bugs
I generally have a "no-kill" policy when it comes to insects. When I'm outside and they annoy me, I shoo them away or go inside. When they manage to get inside, I try to relocate them to the great outdoors. (Or sometimes I'm too lazy and I just leave them, knowing that Someone Else will probably come by and kill them later--but at least I'm not the personal agent of their destruction).
But mosquitoes? Whole different story! I hate mosquitoes. No gentle shooing, no Insect Relocation program. It's all kill, kill, kill, buh-bye.
Yet for someone who hates mosquitoes, I do practically nothing to keep them away from me. I spent most of my life in areas where they're not a huge problem, only an occasional nuisance, so it's taken me a while to "get it."
But now I live somewhere they like to hang out, and I finally understand: Sometimes one really, truly needs to spray on some sort of foul substance to keep from being eaten alive.
But it's so icky! It's worse than even than evil sunscreen.
Is DEET the answer? Wait, what was the question?
I've always heard DEET was the only thing that really worked. And despite years of experts reassuring me that there was nothing to worry about unless one was particularly chemically sensitive (nope--just emotionally) I've never really trusted the stuff.
It burns through synthetic fabrics and plastics, right? How scary is that?
Well, Scientific American recently ran an article on DEET that mentioned annoying side effects like skin irritation, numb or burning lips, nausea, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating, blah blah blah... but then went on to say something about "diffuse brain cell death," and that managed to get my attention.
Brain cell death? Um, no thanks. I'd like to hang on to the precious few brain cells I have. Or if I'm gonna kill them, I'd at least like to use something more fun, like tequila. I'm not wasting brain cells on DEET.
But thankfully, the article also challenged the "DEET is the only effective insect-killer" notion I'd heard so often. They said that in recent years, the alternatives have gotten much better. They recommended two in particular: picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. To quote:
"Picaridin, long used to repel mosquitoes in other parts of the world, is now available in the U.S. under the Cutter Advanced brand name. Oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is derived from eucalyptus leaves and is the only plant-based active ingredient for insect repellents approved by the CDC, is available in several different forms, including Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, OFF! Botanicals, and Fight Bite Plant-Based Insect Repellent."
Cool! Oil of lemon eucalyptus sounds kinda pleasant, doesn't it? Almost like something you'd pay to be dunked in at the spa. Or the manicurist...
Other Botanical Alternatives:
The Scientific American article mentions a couple other places to get safer mosquito repellent recommendations, (here too), but Google had different ideas.
Google thought we should all be using Catnip to repel mosquitoes.
Turns out, previous research suggested catnip oil might have promise, but alas, even people who sell catnip for a living said: Nope; it doesn't work very well.
Plus, it can actually attract pests.
Photo by donnjmck
Yeah, those too, but they specifically mention bees and fire ants.
Anyway, does anyone else dislike both mosquitoes and the methods used to repel them? Any thoughts or suggestions? Anyone tried the Picaridin or the Oil of lemon eucalyptus?