29 October 2014

DIY natural bug repellent

There's this dirty little secret that New Zealand has. Nobody talks about it and foreigners are blissfully unaware until they fall prey to the suffering induced by it. This menace causes havoc in its wake.

I'm talking about the sandfly.

These little blighters prefer foreign blood, and unfortunately foreigners (like myself) react badly to the bites. That's probably why the locals don't warn immigrants and visitors - they just don't experience the problem the same way. It's not so bad for them.

The sandflies' bite results in the worst itching I've ever experienced in my life. The only other time I've had itching that bad was when I had obstetric cholestasis. It is beyond torturous. It actually wakes you in the night, it is so bad - there is no sleeping through it. There is almost no relief from it - although I have found that neat lavender oil, Stingose spray or gel, and NOT scratching the actual bite itself all help. It's the kind of itching that has you reaching for tools like hairbrushes or forks to scratch with because your nails just aren't enough. And the itching and swelling last for weeks. You'll think it's over and then the hot water from the shower, for example, will set it off again.

So now that you know New Zealand's dirty little secret and my experience with it, you'll know why I'm so motivated to repel the little devils, as well as mosquitoes. I don't want weeks-long repercussions from our beach and camping trips BUT I also don't want to spend the whole summer slathered in chemical deterrents.

So I've started making my own repellent and it's really effective! My dad was astonished at how well it works.

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I use essential oils and coconut oil. I have used the essential oils in a spray bottle with water for this purpose, and it worked a treat, but the coconut oil is better on the skin, and it's easier to see if you've missed a spot when applying. I chose coconut oil because it absorbs well, has its own health benefits, and doesn't leave a horrible greasy feeling afterwards.

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You'll need a dark glass bottle, coconut oil (or other carrier oil, such as sweet almond), and essential oils. Any combination of the following will work to deter mosquitoes and sandflies:
- eucalyptus
- lemon
- citronella
- lavender
- manuka pine
- tea tree
- lemongrass

Simply melt the coconut oil and pour into your jar (I used a brown glass jar that vitamins came in). Add 5-10 drops of each oil, depending on how big your jar is. As you can see from the picture above, I used citronella, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, and lemon. Screw the top on tightly and shake well to disperse the essential oils through the coconut oil.

That's it! Just rub the oil onto the skin that you want to protect, being sure to reapply when you think the scent has faded. I added some rubon letters to the lid so I'd know what was in the bottle.

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And, just for the LOLs, here is a picture of me on a camping trip before I made this DIY bug repellent. It was evening time and the mosquitoes were out in full force. They only seemed to be targeting me, not Noah, who I was reading to. I didn't want to spray Off all over myself before going to bed, so I covered up by tucking my tracksuit pants into my socks, pulling my sleeves down over my hands, and wearing Noah's hooded towel. Grant was laughing at me but it worked!

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Don't be like me back then. Be like me now and make yourself some natural bug repellent!

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