Written by Mindy Laughton
If you live in Virginia or another part of the world with hot and humid parts of the year, everywhere you go, you’re under constant threat and surveillance from millions of bloodthirsty assailants. We’re talking, of course, about mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks, to name a few. These insects are constantly seeking to feast on you and your unsuspecting loved ones. Not only do they sting and cause annoying itching, they also harbor many deadly diseases, such as West Nile, malaria, and Zika.
Protecting your family at home is fairly simple. Common sense remedies like making sure there aren’t stagnant pools of water for mosquito breeding and using citronella candles during outdoor gatherings are helpful. If you’re facing a large infestation, bring out the big guns in pest control and contact a local company that can help you control mosquitoes, fleas, or even mice.
If you’re on the go, however, you can’t rely on these types of remedies; even the best pest control company isn’t going to fit in a go bag. Thankfully, there are three ways you can make sure that you won’t be plagued by biting insects, even in a situation where you need your go bag.
1. Commercial Products – There is a wide range of commercial products that are easy to keep at home and fit nicely in a go bag. Spray repellents are designed to keep a wide range of pests away from you and your loved ones. These sprays use chemicals like DEET (diethyltoluamide), Permethrin, or Picaridin as their active ingredients. Creams are a good alternative and have the benefit of being silent in their application. This has obvious tactical advantages.
Other commercial alternatives for insect and pest control are wristbands and belt mounted units. These use other chemicals that create noxious odors that keep biting insects and other pests away. Unfortunately, these are only effective on flying insects; they aren’t much good against ticks and fleas.
2. DIY Green Repellents – One major problem with most commercial insect repellents is that in order to be effective, they have to smell. And the smell is at best just an annoyance, and at worst, can aggravate existing health conditions or give away your position when stealth is required.
For a prepper, however, making an effective insect repellent that has a pleasant smell and also fits in the environment is fairly simple. The base of a natural repellent is essential oil, and any mixture can be used to fit in with the native environment. Among the oils that can work are catnip, cedar, mint, lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus. Another go-to favorite is citronella, which is also found in many candles. If you’re in an area with ticks, focus on citronella, catnip, and lemon eucalyptus, which are recommended by the EPA.
You can combine these with an oil-based lotion to make an effective insect repellent that has a fairly long shelf life and will last in an air-tight container in a go bag for a long while. As an added bonus, you can control the quality of the repellent because you’re the one sourcing the ingredients.
3. Repellent On the Go – If you find yourself on the go without any repellent in your bag and you’re not near a store, you can still create your own insect repellent using natural products in the environment. In Virginia, one of the best natural insect repellents is the French mulberry. This plant is memorable because the purple drupe fruit is very purple and are a favorite of nearly every herbivorous and omnivorous animal in the area. Just crush the leaves and rub it on your exposed skin.
A 2004 study by the USDA found that the plant contains callicarpenal, intermedeol, and spathulenol; all of which are extremely good at repelling mosquitoes and biting flies.
Another excellent plant for an impromptu insect repellent is wax myrtle. Again, this distinctive plant can be crushed and rubbed on the skin to keep biting insects away.
If you’re planning on sleeping in the woods, you can take any of these plants and lay them down before you put your sleeping pad or bag down. They will help keep chiggers and other biting crawling insects from finding a home with you while you rest. When you make camp, tossing a handful of pine needles on as you bank the coals will help repel insects as well.
About the Author:
While attending college in the mountain west in the early 2000’s, Mindy gained a love of writing. It was only a matter of time before she coupled that love with an intrigue for the internet. She’s been posting and blogging ever since. Her favorite things are lap dogs, hikes, and all things Cirque du Soleil.