Disease Control mosquitos Organic Pest Control ticks

Mosquitos, Ticks, and Other Bugs – What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

Since it’s been found that some diseases can be carried and spread through insect bites, the media is all over it. As much as they go on about something like this, they seldom offer a natural solution to the problem that really works.

Even though there is much information out there about how we can take care of ourselves, it takes some living and experience and/or time to know what’s true and what’s not. Information that can help us doesn’t always show up as quickly as we need it.

DEET – Should You Use It?

Probably the recommended chemical of choice to keep bugs at bay is DEET. (Don’t stop here and rush out to get some.  Read more before making that decision.)

As you probably know DEET is in hundreds of products — and sometimes in concentrations up to 100%. It’s been shown to harm brain and nervous system functions although most accounts you read say that has not been proven. (I’ve noticed that’s usually what most proponents of any harmful substance say when studies show it to be harmful.)

Rashes, numbing or burning lips, dizziness, disorientation, headache, skin irritation, difficulty concentrating, and nausea are also attributed to using DEET.

Recently I read about a study of National Park Service employees where 25% of them reported some type of health effect attributed to DEET.

Many Natural Products Are Just as Effect

There are many natural things you can use that are just as effective or more so than DEET. The “naturals” usually give protection from 6 to 8 hours. That might not be as long as DEET, so just reapply after 6 hours.

A Teacher Reports What Park Rangers Told Her Class

Couple of months ago I was in line to check out at our small, local health food store. The lady in front of me (who was a teacher) was talking to the owner about just having come from one of the area’s state parks with her class. The subject of tick and mosquito protection had been brought up.

The park rangers told the kids they use citronella essential oil and Badger Balm for protection. (Badger Balm would be the carrier for the essential oil.)

The carrier for an essential oil dilutes it and would keep it from possibly irritating the skin. How many drops per 1/2 tsp of carrier oil will depend on the individual essential oil.

Before you buy any essential oil read about it first. There are lots of sites out there that go into much detail about what each oil does, the suggested dilution, and any precautions you should take when using it.

Badger Balm

In case you don’t already know, Badger Balm is olive oil, beeswax, castor oil, aloe extract and the essential oils of birch and wintergreen. It’s an organic product that the company says contains no petroleum or chemicals of any kind. (In spite of being certified organic, I think some of the oils in their products may not be organic because they can’t get them for one reason or the other.)

A little of these balms go a long way!

It wasn’t clear to me if the rangers used the product that Badger offers which has citronella already mixed with the Badger Balm or if they used the plain balm and added their own essential oil.

My guess is they use the all in one product for convenience. Badger’s product for bug protection is a mixture of essential oils like citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary and geranium which all have bug repellent properties.

Most essential oils can be mixed to receive the benefit from more than one at a time. You’ll easily see that when start looking around for information.

Many Essential Oils Repel Insects.

The Rangers told the kids they could also use cedar wood essential oil or lavender essential oil as well as the citronella.

Lemon eucalyptus is an excellent one and has been proven to be just as effective as DEET.

Mixtures -Getting the Benefits from Many Oils

Bill always kept a product called Bug Barrier ointment (now called Bug Block in stick form) in his “emergency kit” when he was out painting in the field.

It’s a mixture of the following insect repelling essential oils and Beeswax.

• Eucalyptus
• Cedarwood
• Rosemary
• Citronella
• Lemon Grass
• Lemon
• Tea Tree
• Peppermint
• Cinnamon
• Garlic
• Plantain
• Echinacea Oil
• Botanical Menthol
• Neem Oil
• Unbleached Beeswax

It’s organic and herbs are wild harvested whenever possible. 100% pure plant essential oils, with NO inert or inactive ingredients.

Thus, you’re getting the maximum concentration for potency and effectiveness in this product by Dr. Richard Schulze.

The real thing is going to cost more than something diluted. For example on some products you’ll see a certain percentage of the essential oil (let’s say 30%) and 70% inert ingredients. They could be harmful or not. You have no way to know. In most cases their main purpose would be to dilute the oil and therefore keep the price low. So be aware of that when you’re looking.

Want to Mix Your Own?

If you want to buy the essential oils and mix them in a carrier yourself or use just one, you’ll want the most reputable companies. If you’re interested, but don’t want to do all the homework on essential oil, there are some folks out there that have already invested all kinds of time looking for the best companies.

Don’t Want to Take a Year to Research?

The young woman who writes the web site WholeNewMom did an entire series on essential oils. I thought she did an outstanding job!

You can read all the details yourself on her site. She answers about every question you can think of. After MUCH research she ended up recommending Rocky Mountain Oils and/or Neal’s Yard Remedies. After checking them out, I would be inclined to go with her recommendation.

So What Do I Use?

I still have Bill’s unopened tube of Bug Barrier which I’ll keep just in case.

I could count on one hand the times I used the spray form of Bug Barrier that we use to keep at the back door.  Mainly I used it when May flies came out.  And every once in a while there would be a day that mosquitoes were worse than usual.

Other than that I don’t use anything.

Final Thoughts

If you’re bothered by mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs, being outdoors is not as much fun. Having something like a good essential oil or a mixture of good essential oils can really make a difference.  And make that difference safely.

We all know that improving the health of our soil will make our gardens better able to fend off pest and disease attacks.  A health body that has the right nutrition will create a strong immune system and help make us “unappealing” to bugs.  And if we are bitten, our immune system will be able to take care of it for us.


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  • Because of changing some bed arrangements, I tilled this year. I started this section about 10 years ago in some very questionable soil. The soil I turned over to a depth of about 8″ looked like the best potting soil you could buy and all I have done is applied 5-6″ of leaves each fall. Why would I buy commercial fertilizers and why do people put leaves in the garbage??
    I am finding small black spots on most of my finally ripening tomatoes. These develop into round rot spots whether left on vine or picked. This has been a strange year weather wise and I’ve never seen it before. I don’t see any dent in the skin or bulge when they first appear. Lots of suggestions but I’d like your thoughts.
    Thanks Ray Kent

  • Theresa

    Thank You for your message on bug dope.

    Being type 11 Diabetic, I have a little higher blood sugars and the mosquitoes just love me. Plus with all the diseases connected to bug bites, it is just not about the discomfort.


    Where can you buy “bug Barrier” ?


  • Don, Bug Barrier is now in “stick” form so is called Bug Block.
    It is available online from http://www.herbdoc.com.
    Across the top of the page are the topics Shop, Nutrition, Eliminate, Immune, Detox, Specifics, etc.
    Click on Specifics.
    Scroll to Topical under which there will be 4 products, one of which is Bug Block. Click on that and you can add to cart. It’s $14 plus the shipping.

    Hope it will make gardening more enjoyable for you. Let me know.

    Ray, I love your story about those leaves making such wonderful soil. Indeed they do! People that trash their leaves don’t realize how valuable they are.

    Now —about the strange weather and tomatoes:
    Things have been VERY STRANGE for the past two years. Hardly anything has been “normal”.
    Although my tomatoes have not had the small black spots — they definitely are not lasting like they have in years past — whether on the vine or off. It happened last year also. They develop small spots of decay very quickly which enlarges with each passing day. I have to check them everyday!

    For the first time in 35 years I doubt that I will have tomatoes through December and into January. I will be fortunate to get into November with them if they continue to go bad so quickly.

    I wish I knew the answer to our problem.
    Always good comparing notes with you Ray.


  • My daughter has “Skeeter Syndrome,” and I’ve had to use homemade spray on her regularly during the most active months from the time she was a baby. She is six now and continues to do wonderfully with my homemade recipe. The cinnamon really kicks it up a notch. It makes the effects last longer too:

    100% witch hazel
    75 drops cedarwood
    25 drops lavendar
    25 drops tea tree
    25 drops eucalyptus
    25 drops cinnamon
    1 tbsp olive oil

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