Green Girl Blings Bug Sprays

So, this week I started work for the summer. Outside. In a garden. While some of you may have found work in the nice air-conditioned mall, or sitting around in a store in town, or waiting tables at a restaurant, some of us will be working outside allll day allll summer.

Fact: Gardening is harder than it looks. Fact: I am very sore right now. Fact: I am also very tired. Who knew that you have to wake up so early to garden? Fact: I am absolutely covered in bug bites.

While the mosquito-esque bugs (I donít know what they actually are, but they do indeed like to bite) seemed to stay away from the two women I work with, they did not choose to spare me. Maybe itís my shampoo, or maybe I just have bug-worthy skin. The point is: I hurt. For some reason, I was not anticipating this problem. I was set with sunscreen and tick repellent, but NO BUG DOPE! (Sorry, my friends think thatís weird, but my family calls bug spray ďbug dope.Ē)

Anyway, I was offered some incredibly non-green bug dope from one of the bite-free women I work with, but I had to decline. I was willing to brave the insect storm and hold out for healthy bug dope. Why? Well, I didnít know what they put in those sprays until today, but I did know that every time I went for the bug spray, my mom was appalled by any kind that was not natural. Knowing her, itís got to be for a good reason. So I came home and looked it up.

Turns out, bug dope isnít that great for you. Most sprays use DEET, and the second most-used repellent is permethrin, or pyrethrin. DEET is more effective than pyrethrin, but pyrethrin causes less problems than DEET. Symptoms linked to pyrethrins are coughing, difficulty breathing, asphyxia, vomiting, and upset stomach.

DEET is a little more serious, with hives and skin irritation, nausea, and vomiting being the least severe. If it is swallowed, it can give you low blood pressure and a low heart rate. If exposed to large amounts of DEET, either in one poisoning or over a long period of time, it can cause neurological damage, such as disorientation, difficulty walking, seizures, and coma. Children who use sprays with DEET over a long period of time are especially prone to seizures.

Point being, Iím not going to use these sprays any time soon. Instead, Iím going with one made from geranium oil that has been found to be just as effective as DEET: Bite Blocker Insect Repellent. And if youíre looking for a safe way to keep the ticks off, they also intensely dislike rose geranium, my mother’s research confirms, so itís a perfect double-duty spray.

Note to self: Nothing better for keeping the bugs away than Bite Blocker.

Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a freshman at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W7 years ago


Sharon P.
Sharon P7 years ago

Thanks,what is cat-mint never heard of it. Blessings Everyone.

Beatrice Snooks-wilson
.7 years ago

I'd love to share this on my blog. Could you get in touch with me and let me know if I could? Beatrice
of course all content would be linked directly back to you. Here is my blog in case you want to check it out first

Jane L7 years ago


Ellinor S.
Ellinor S8 years ago

thank you

Anita Constantine-gay
Anita gay8 years ago

Centepedes have invaded my basement laundry room! how do i get rid of them naturally?

Micah P.
Michalyn Porter8 years ago

How do I get rid of roaches?? I need something other than roach motels in my house and I can't find any info on it. I have 4 cats currently staying with me, so I don't want little packets of poison laying around for them to play with.

Nicola Withers
Past Member 9 years ago

This summer I discovered that a mixture of bottom-shelf vodka and peppermint oil is an effective insect repellant as well, particularly against mosquitoes. Perhaps this will help Jennifer Gray since she is allergic to flowers. I too am allergic to everything including flowers and the peppermint doesn't bother me.

Susan Allsop
Susan Allsop9 years ago

Recent research shows that people with O and 0- blood are a most tasty to mosquitoes and AB the least -- which help explains why I, an AB- -- am rarely troubled by them even in highly infested areas.

However -- CAT MINT (next to tobacco smoke) is the absolute best at keeping mosquitoes, no-seeums, gnats, and frequently flies at baby. I haven't figured out a way to get the oils out of the cat mint, so I just have my universal-donor friends rub it all over them -- OK they look a little green and every cat in the neighborhood loves them, but it WORKS!!!!

For just sitting and hanging, made a smudge pot of wet peat, lots of cat mint leaves, stick in a match or small wick, and let it really, really dry until the peat is solid, hard, and pulls away from pot. Light it, and when the flame gets to the peat and goes out, it will simply smolder until all consumed or doused. Cheaper, less offensive, and all natural compared to Tiki torches or coils.

Caralien S.
Caralien S9 years ago

Kiss My Face Sunswat SPF15 is pretty good as a "natural" combo bug spray/SPF for normal outdoor use. Putting a few drops of EO of citronella or lavender onto one's hat/cuffs/shoes works fairly well too. In the event that nothing natural helps [the bugs continue to bite, fly into the eyes and mouth, swarm] just make sure that only a light spray/few drops of chemicals like DEET are placed on clothing which doesn't touch the skin (belt loops, jackets, top of hat, etc.).