We are an outdoor, nature loving, (tree hugging) family. We love to hike in the woods, play in the garden, and kayak down the river. With all these activities we encounter almost every single bug bite that is possible to get in the south. So a form of bug protection is necessary, even if it’s just to prevent bed time woes from our little one being too itchy to fall asleep.
We have gone through lot’s of different varieties of this and researched all the ways to naturally avoid the bugs tiny bites. My favorite of which was to wear long sleeves and pants with the pants securely tucked into your socks and hiking boots, a hat and gloves. This was mainly for avoiding ticks. Now, a hazmat suit might be easier to slip on for that kind of protection, but realistically, it’s hard to convince my child to put clothes on, so this option in 100 southern summer heat is out.
So our next line of defense is a really good insect repellent. However - we don’t love the idea of putting potentially toxic substances on our near our body. So the chemically effective ones like such as DEET though cited by both EWG.org and EPA.gov as reasonably safe, it is out for our family use on a daily basis, though if we are headed to the jungle we may consider it’s use short term. The citronella based herbal ones have only proved mildly effective but the smell of a walking candle isn’t enjoyable for us. One natural brand we tried delivered merely an oily squirt of citronella rom the bottle not making it effective at getting all over the body, unless you rubbed it onto your hands and then onto your clothes or body, the catch was when I went to rub a nat out of my eye and the oil residue was still on my fingers and of course resulted in severe eye irritation. That option sits on a shelf to be used for back up in dire situations.
We have had several herbal insect repellents that did a so so job, and I had all but given up on them completely until a woman local to our community emailed me one day and said she made one she wanted us to try. She brought in a sample and explained it contains Rose Geranium - a perineal shrub native to South America. This is a plant I have had sitting outside my front door for the last year, and had no idea it’s secret super powers as a plant. When distilled, it is highly effective as an insect repellant, most impressively a TICK repellant.
Our woods have a high volume of mosquitoes and ticks, so I knew we would have no trouble testing her repellant. Taking one for the “team” I sprayed myself down, albeit doubtful to the effectiveness of another “wonder herb”, and much to my chagrin I watched a swarm of mosquitoes hover, yep hover around my legs and not a single one landing for the bite. IT WORKED! A win for Rose Geranium. I feel a little silly saying I was giddy, but a real delight and feeling of relief that I have something that might work. This little spray had beat the pesky bugs that have plagued me my whole life.
The next test was our daughters outdoor weeklong camp. She is pretty yummy cute, especially to bugs, so she has almost become used to being covered in itchy welts. The first day I sprayed her down, and off she went. At pick up, I was so happy to see she was bite free, except i her underarm area, which seems ridiculous they found a way to bite her there. So the next day she got a spritz there too, before heading off to play in the woods. No more bites for her, thank goodness.
I kind of fall in love with anything that helps us avoid suffering maladies like tiny bumps that wake you up in a tizzy of needing to scratch the itch, needless to say, I ordered a bunch to sell in our store in Durham and online, and I can’t stop spreading the word about the effectiveness of Rose Geranium.
You may consider adding rose geranium to your insect repellant repertoire if you are a nature lover and want to stick to natural alternatives for your family.