Thursday, August 24, 2017

Being Smart About Summertime Bugs!

To most people, summer entails pool time, barbecues, road trips and county fairs. To a few people however, summertime means one thing: bugs.

Nobody wants to go outside and almost immediately be swarmed by thousands of disease carrying mosquitoes, and other creepy crawlies, that simply want to feast on your blood.  Okay, so maybe that is not their intention, but we all know the worst is having to slap yourself in the face when a bug buzzes close to your ear, or waking up the next day itching in some awkward spot, that you were unaware got bit the night before.

That is not my idea of summer and I don’t think it is yours either.  Many people have their go-to deet-infused insect repellent, but today I want to go over some natural options to help increase your chances of keeping the bugs away.

Small Glowing Objects

Everyone knows that bugs are attracted to the flame.  The same goes for mosquitoes and our phones.  Most people don’t realize it because it is so instinctive and habitual, but checking your phone every five minutes at a campfire is actually attracting bugs right in front of your face.  Make it a point to actually enjoy your time in nature or with family and friends, rather than checking social media profiles or the news.  If you are going to be “that guy or girl” at a gathering, try to check your phone while walking, as to not attract bugs to yourself or others.

One of the better things to have outside in the summer are the standing citronella or oil filled candles.  Strategically placing some of those in a circle around your gathering will greatly increase your chances of not being bitten.  Supplementing those with an electronic bug zapper will be even better.  Most bugs will be attracted to the flames but will not fly into them.  Having a bug zapper in your gathering will catch many of those attracted to the various lights and scents of your gathering.  Some of the best bug zappers out there emit carbon dioxide, other scents, or non-toxic pheromones like octonel, that attract mosquitoes to the zapper.  If you are going to buy a good bug zapper for your outdoor venue here are a few other things to keep in mind:

     Buy one rated for outdoors.  Bug zappers that are rated for both indoor and outdoor use are often not robust enough to cover a wide area outside, plain and simple.

     Buy one that is either propane fueled or corded. These models stay in use longer, are typically quieter, and the added power means more heat for luring in bugs.  Cordless models do not typically have extra features like pheromone release or that extra heat and light.

     Buy one with easy to clean components and extra security features.  You definitely want a bug zapper that has a pull out tray or easy to clean grids.  Also, always get one with a guard over the electrified portion of the device to prevent someone from accidentally touching it.

Perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, lotion, body washes, etc.

Certain unnatural scents and ingredients in popular everyday products attract all kinds of airborne critters.  When you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, it is best to not practically invite the bugs to feast on your exposed skin.  When showering in the summertime, try to find a good citronella or unscented soap brand that is known for not attracting bugs.  The same goes for lotions, shampoos and body washes.  Prell is one such shampoo that is relatively scentless and does not attract most forms of bugs. 

Mosquitos, in particular, are drawn to heat, sweat and general dinginess.  That means that areas like close to your feet are always susceptible to being bitten, regardless if you have socks on or not.  Having dirty socks or shoes actually attracts more mosquitoes than say, a strong floral scent.

What you eat is what they crave

Certain foods attract bugs and certain foods attract bugs as you sweat.  Sugary foods and beverages will always be on the top of both those lists. 

Avoid eating things like bananas or lemons, as they have pheromones that attract bees and mosquitoes.  Salty things like peanut butter can attack many types of ants, but today we are mostly concerned with the airborne bugs.

Always compare your list of foods and beverages to the umpteen amount of lists available on the internet of what attracts and repels the types of bugs that are prevalent in your area.  Just keep in mind that many things like fruits, juices and most alcoholic drinks contain sugar in their natural makeup, and that attract bugs.  Many species of insects, especially the airborne ones, can detect a scent from miles away, and will move accordingly.

A few other tips are to avoid things like leaving empty cans of beer all over your gathering or eating a box of movie candy just before going outside.  Clean up any spills and put the tops back on beverages while unattended.  Be smart about it.  And most of all: be pragmatic.  If you got bitten up after eating or drinking a certain thing, don’t do it again!