As soon as the first sunny Spring day hit, my kids have been outside. When we get home school, they run right into the backyard without even coming inside. My biggest struggle has been just getting them to come in and eat dinner! I absolutely love that they like to play outside. Some of my best memories from childhood are from those warm summer evenings when all of the neighborhood kids were running around until our parents made us come in to go to bed.
Of course as a kid, I never worried about a thing. Bug bites happened but they seemed to be a minor annoyance that came along with all of the fun we were having. Being on the other side now as a parent, I'm glad they are having fun, but I do get concerned about the bugs.
My daughter especially reacts quite strongly to bites. They swell up and become large itchy bumps for a week or better (the best remedy for that has been tea tree oil or my handmade salve). They bother her to the point where sometimes it disturbs her sleep. Not only are they itchy and annoying but we have diseases, like West Nile Virus, to worry about too.
Toxic Conventional Bug Spray
Unfortunately, most of the regular bug spray products contain pretty harsh chemicals. One of the most well known ingredient in bug repellents is DEET. It is a very strong chemical designed to kill mosquitoes (if it can kill bugs, what else is it doing??). Even the Environmental Protection Agency says you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in, and not spray it directly on your face.
There is a lot of information available cautioning us about using DEET on children. It is so strong it can even burn the skin in higher concentrations and can damage the nervous system. It has even been found to cause seizures in small children.
Since my children are always outdoors I need an alternative to the toxic products that are on the market so I turned to essential oils. There are a number of different oils that help keep the bugs away. To make it easier to use, mix your essential oils in water with a little witch hazel and put it in a spray bottle.
I first learned about essential oils about 7 years ago and at the time there weren't as many choices in brands available as there are today. I was introduced to Young Living by a friend and never looked back. I have since tried other brands throughout the years and I always go back to Young Living. They seem stronger and more concentrated then other brands I've tried because I always get better results when using them.
Here are some essential oils that are helpful in keeping the bugs away:
**Always spot test essential oils when using them for the first time to avoid allergic reactions because they are highly concentrated.
Use any of these oils on their own or mixed with some of the others on this list.
I use a mix of three essential oils along with neem oil in my own homemade bug spray. You can buy a bottle of my own bug spray here.
Another trick I use, especially in the summer is to add some of these oils into liquid castile soap and use as a body wash in the bath or shower. It's an easy way to get the oils on your children without having to spray them.