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Safe Skeeter Repellent

Happy Independence Day!  Along with your freedom to life, liberty, and property, may you also have freedom from bugs and bites.

As you spend today reflecting on our nation’s independence, enjoying BBQ, fireworks, and family time, there’s a strong possibility you’ll be fending off the bugs, especially the blood-sucking nasty mosquito-type.  If you live in Minnesota or Alaska, those skeeters are the size of birds, and very little will deter them because they can pierce through denim, wool, and even steel armor.

But, before you lather on whatever type of bug repellent is available at your nearest general goods retailer, consider the ingredients.  What’s in those lotions may be far worse than the ephemeral effects of an itchy mosquito bite.

Several bug repellents carry insecticides such as DEET, permethrin, and picaridin which cause many harmful side effects.

In an article recently published in ACA News (C Burke. Natural alternatives for mosquito management. ACA News. June 2008. p. 30-1.),

According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Pesticide Information Profile Extension Toxicology Network, DEET has the potential to cause rashes, breathing difficulties, neurotoxic effects and even death, especially in susceptible individuals and those overusing the chemical.  Studies have also shown that the chemical is transported from the skin to all organs of the body,  [then, it ]enters the brain.  [It]  can be transferred to babies via breast milk, and [it] can even reach the fetus.

However, there are plenty of safer alternatives to insecticides and DEET, many of which revolve around one or two main ingredients that are easy and inexpensive to find.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), bug repellents using oil of lemon eucalyptus as the main ingredient were found to provide similar protection to those using low concentrations of DEET.

The following is a list, not by any means comprehensive, which provides natural alternatives to insecticides to help repel mosquitoes, flies, and ticks:

To enjoy a bug-free evening in your own backyard, there are simple measures you can take.

  1. Grow attractive insect-repelling plants in your garden: marigolds, geraniums, catnip, basil, citronella grass, peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, and mosquito plants.  These plants naturally repel the hungry little beastly bugs while maintaining a lovely garden aesthetic.
  2. Make your OWN insect repelling spray by crushing the leaves of the aforementioned plants, thereby releasing their essential oils.  Mix them with isopropyl alcohol and create your own natural insect repellant.
  3. Burn sandalwood sticks in your yard (obviously keep curious little ones away).
  4. Eliminate standing/stagnant water in your yard, because this is the breeding and hatching ground for mosquito eggs.
  5. Avoid wearing lotions with fragrance, perfumes, and scented hair care products while playing outdoors.  These are mosquito and fly magnets.  It’s far better to smell of lemon and eucalyptus and to be bug bite-free!
  6. Burn citronella candles in outside areas with low wind such as on your patio table keeping bugs at bay from your BBQ.
  7. Maintain your door and window screens around the perimeter.  If those little buggers sneak into the cracks around those, then you’ve got ’em in your house.  And nothing’s worse than listening to a buzzing mosquito at 3 AM!

Read www.beyondpesticides.org for more info about protecting you and your backyard from mosquitos.

If, perchance, you still happen to get that little nagging nip that turns into a pimple-sized itchy nob, and you’re “itching” for a natural remedy to prevent you from scratching your skin off, I highly recommend the nectar directly from an aloe vera plant, or Sting Away which is an aloe vera based spray that you can find at your local pharmacy or health foods store.  I’ve used it for hornet stings as well as mosquito bites.  The label also advocates its use for sea lice and jellyfish stings.  The soothing aloe quickly takes the edge of a deeply itchy sting or bite.

Read this book!

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I first learned about this book by some chiropractors at nutritional & neurology seminars. I’ve almost completed reading it, and I’ve already recommended it to several of my friends who are moms.

Dr. Perlmutter, a neurologist, discusses inexpensive, common-sense, and research-backed methods to increase the IQ of your child and keep him healthy. Topics include memory games, breastfeeding, vaccinations, nutrition, common neurotoxins found around the home, health care, toys, and TV/video games/computers.

Much of the information presented rings familiar with courses I’ve taken in child development psychology, psychology of reading and learning, neurology, and pediatrics.

Games and toys that are recommended are typically inexpensive, rather the recommendations are more based on HOW to effectively incorporate reading with your child, playtime, cognition, memory, and health.

In case you have a short term memory and can’t remember all the recommendations as they’re grouped based on age (infant-6 months all the way through age 12), there is a summary table at the end of each chapter that outlines the basic recommendations per age category. So, check it out!