In some parts of the country, bugs are not an issue. But where most of my family lives, here in NY, as soon as things finally warm up, the bugs come out in swarms and can be merciless. It often seems like the more time you get to spend outside, the more the bugs manage to ruin things. Just this past week, for example, we had to put a quick end to an after-BBQ Smores fest over a lovely fire pit because we were all getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, despite the smoke and breeze. Our 4th of July fireworks on the beach were so beautiful, but also spent swishing and slapping away pesky bugs. Then my kid woke up with 6 or 7 spider bites the other day, and my husband was up half of last night because of a mosquito buzzing in his ear. I have also removed dangerous deer ticks from both my own foot and one from my kid's backside this month, and we were in an area infested where these ticks carry the horrible Lyme's disease to boot...So you get the picture. The bugs are not my friends right now.
That said, we all know that there are tons of bug sprays on the market that can help. So I've done some research, and here's what the experts say: Anything with DEET is by far the most effective, and in fact, many agree, the ONLY type of bug repellent which will successfully keep away things like ticks and mosquitos. But DEET is a harmful chemical, and should not be applied liberally or too often to your skin, especially on kids. Therefore, it is recommended to be used when you know you will be in an area with a high level of Lyme's disease or West Nile virus infected insects, or other such things, in which case the protection the bug spray offers far outweighs the cons of a few applications of the spray.
Also, the smartest and safest way to protect yourself and your little ones is to COVER UP with clothes (not spray) when you are headed to a buggy area. Long sleeves (light cotton is fine to keep cool), long pants, and shoes with socks. If you are walking through a wooded area, where ticks fall from trees, a hat is also recommended. Then, you can spray the CLOTHES and keep the chemicals (and bug bites) most safely off your skin that way. Some outdoor gear companies like Columbia and EMS and Patagonia now even sell long sleeved shirts and pants with SPF AND bug repellent in them. How cool is that?
As far as keeping the bugs out of your home and yard, check out home furnishing stores with walk-through bug screens you can hang in front of your doors. They have an opening slit through the middle, lined with magnets, so you can just walk through them, and then they click shut right behind you and keep most mosquitoes out very well. I don't have one yet and they literally follow me inside these days, and even follow my dog too, but my neighbor's swear by them and I can see how effectively they work. I'm getting one ASAP.
How do you keep bugs away?