Spring is nearly upon us, and with the warmer weather come the bugs. Pesky mosquitoes, bees, wasps, you name your buzzing little pest. For most people, this means cracking out a can of Raid or slathering smelly bug repellents on their children. But you’re trying to live chemical free. So what do you do? Not to despair – here come the herbs!
When flies are dive-bombing your picnic, try some fresh basil picked from your garden. (One good place to learn how to grow herbs, etc. is Thyme for Herbs, a favorite blog hangout of mine. Pretty pictures too!) Place the leaves around the table. Or for inside, get some basil essential oil and add a few drops to a small spray bottle of water. Spray around to your heart’s content. A fresh-smelling, no-fly zone awaits you.
Insect repellents can be loaded with curious ingredients. But it’s simple to make your own. Put 2 Tbs. pennyroyal oil in 2 cups of vodka. Shake it up in a jar and wipe the mixture on your skin with a cotton ball. Now you’re free for a traipse in the woods.
Here’s one I plan on trying this year because sassafras is plentiful in my neck of the woods: Place 1 cup of torn sassafras leaves in a jar and cover it with vodka. Place the closed jar in the sun for one whole sunny day. Remove the leaves. Wipe on the liquid. A bug-free outdoor excursion awaits you! (I’m wondering if it smells like root beer schnapps. I’ll let you know.)
For bees and wasps, I recently learned a new trick: plain old vodka. Yes, several of these remedies use vodka as a base which actually pulls the oils from the plants. But vodka on its own can be placed in a spray bottle to zap the stinging insects. In lieu of all the concern with honey bees, however, if you have a bee hive around your home, check your phone book for hive removal. Some places will gladly do it for free. The reason? Making bee serums or good old honey.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be going to the backyard with my hairdryer. Someone has to melt all this snow before I can test our natural insect repellents.