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We have all been there. Laid out the picnic blanket or set the table outside ready to enjoy the English summer at last with a glass of something refreshing. You sit back to relax and within minutes you are invaded by pesky wasps, ants, flies or mosquitoes. With more warmer weather on the way (hurray!), here are a few tips on how to keep bugs at bay the natural way this summer.
Wasps are not keen on some strong plant aromas, such as eucalyptus and peppermint. If you have some of essential oil handy, dab it onto your table. Alternatively, place a bunch of fresh mint or eucalyptus in a vase nearby, beautiful and practical! If you haven’t got any of this to hand, then try distracting and diverting them from your rug or table by leaving a little protein or some fruit a little way off.
FACT: Wasps seek out protein-based foods early in the summer, and seek overripe fruit and sweet foods late summer.
These are more of a problem when they come in the house. To keep them at bay, spray the surface/trail they are following with diluted vinegar as this helps remove the scent trail that they rely on. Peppermint, Cinnamon and raw peeled Garlic are also scents which ants do not like. Although you may be braver than us leaving some garlic by you back door! I would suggest mint leaves or dried cinnamon powder but only if there are no pets nearby.
Tip: Try not to squash the ants as it releases a pheromone that signals the need for help and more ants will arrive!
Basil and Bay leaves can be really effective at keeping both flies and mosquitoes from venturing inside the house. Flies also have a hatred for lavender. Keep the plants in a pot near the window, or place sprigs of the dried leaves around the kitchen.
If flies are a problem outside, chop up some fresh mint and leave on a saucer on your table and refresh at meal times.
One of the most effective deterrents is the commonly known Citronella, but easier to grow, and find locally, is Lemon Balm which is a member of the mint family, which has a strong lemon aroma. Again, add to a vase on the table (or bedside table) to keep them at bay.
Tip: If you are bitten, rub an ice cube over the area whenever you feel the itch – it stops the itching cycle that makes the bite worse.
Lemon Thyme is also a known repellent..to get it to work rub some in your hands to release the aroma.
Mosquitoes are another hater of Lavender so place around your home to keep the mosquitos out!
Fact: It’s a girl thing! Sorry to admit it, but it is only the female Mosquitoes that bite us. It is the protein from our blood that she needs in order to lay eggs. The same applies for wasps and bees – the males don’t actually have stingers!
You can make a simple repellent spray by boiling dried rosemary in some water in equal measures for 20 to 30 minutes and then straining the liquid into a suitable container. Put a cap on the combined liquid and store it in the refrigerator. Don’t forget to mark the bottle clearly so as not be mistaken for consumption!! Add the repellent to small squirt bottles as needed when going outdoors.
I hope this has been of use, please feel free to add comments below of your own natural insect repellant tips, we would love to hear what we can try out next. Until next time – happy summer!