Bug be gone: Partie deux

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I know I have talked about Make It Yourself bug repellent before but since bugs are still around, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the subject and maybe help those who are still as frustrated as I am about the little critters!

One of the buggers (pun intended!) is a mosquito. Since the weather is now warmer there is a good chance that you have been experiencing a few mosquitoes flying around the outside of your house. There are many choices of bug sprays to choose from at your store but I, personally, cannot stand the smell of them and have you ever read the ingredients? Just a tad toxic! I have a blend of essential oils for keeping those mosquitoes off the skin so you can enjoy our beautiful spring weather in the evenings without worries!

This formula can be made in bulk and then placed in small containers making it easy to transport in the car or your purse. Once you have gathered the ingredients, you will be able to make this many times and it soon becomes very cost effective. There are several ways it can be mixed together. I will give you the recipe for the spray but keep in mind you can put the blend in a carrier like almond oil or even olive oil and add it to unscented lotion. This makes a great way to apply it to your children's skin and making sure you get every surface covered. In a pinch, if you need something and don't have the ingredients I've recommended, pure vanilla extract seems to work when dabbed on your wrists, neck and any other exposed areas. Just don't blame me if you crave cookies afterward!

One pest that seems to crop up once in awhile, even in the 'burbs, is the almighty and scary scorpion! For some reason the thought of finding one in your house can make the blood chill. Being out in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, we come across this once in a while but I have come up with a few different ways to keep my peace of mind and not have to shake everything before using it!

My number one recommendation is take away the scorpion's food source. This requires doing something that is not popular with most Tree Huggers (my husband being one of them!) but I have a rule while living out in the boonies. As much as I love all the creatures we have around here, if one of them finds their way into my house, No More Nice Sher! I have a pest control company who comes out periodically to spray. I have been told, and now know it to be true, that if there are any little baby bugs or spiders in your house, the scorpions will come and dine. You need to make sure all the areas around your windows and doors are well sealed. If you can get a credit card through a crack then a scorpion can get through it, too!  The pest control stuff, on the other hand, does not work on scorpions. They have a very hard shell that the poison can't penetrate. A way to get around this is diatomaceous earth. This is a product that is used in some swimming pool filters. It is a product that is made from crushed rocks and shells and although its texture feels like flour, it is actually abrasive and can scratch the outer shell of the scorpion allowing the poison to penetrate. Our pest control company puts this down around the perimeter of our house but you can do this yourself. One method is to spread the diatomaceous earth and then spray the poison over it. There are many who recommend using Borax the same way. If you were to 'google' borax-pest control, you would find quite of few sites with recommendations to get rid of scorpions as well as other kinds of bugs.

If you think you have scorpions, but aren't sure, a good way to find out is to take a black light outside after 10pm and go around the house with it. Scorpions are fluorescent and shine like the dickens with a black light shining on them. They can't see or feel the light so they don't scamper away. You can kill them by smashing them with something. If you find a nest (feel free to shudder!), I would call a pest control company immediately and let them deal with it.

Scorpions hide during the day and come out to play at night. They love water so these are areas that could use a nice dose of diatomaceous earth or borax. Dave the Garden guy recommends putting down flypaper in those areas where the scorpions can be trapped and killed later. I am going to include a flypaper recipe for those of you who are trying hard to keep the poisons to a minimum, especially if you have kids or animals running around. A good link for scorpions and the prevention thereof is:
 
http://www.getipm.com/thebestcontrol/bugstop/control_scorpions.htm

It's very informative, has the information I have provided plus more detailed instructions and recommendations.

Well, that's two pests but there are many more out there. I am going to provide the recipes I mentioned above and will include a few more for those little critters I didn't mention but are definitely a part of our lives!

Good hunting!

Bug Be Gone Body Mist
16 oz (or larger) spray bottle
12 oz water
4 oz witch hazel
¼ tsp. each:
lemongrass
-lavender
-cedar wood
-bay
-clove 
-bitter orange

Method:
Put water and witch hazel in bowl. Add essential oils; stir and put in spray bottle using a funnel. Be sure to label the bottle so you don't forget what's in it. Shake well before each use. This spray can be used on skin or clothing. Insects have a very keen sense of smell so you don't have to use a lot at each use, just often. There are many essential oils that work on bugs, of course; these are a few that are safer to use with children. Some say to dilute with more water if using this on children but even if it is made with the recommended amounts, it is still far safer than any of those chemical-laden ones on the market. You can use more of one essential oil than others, if you prefer. It is a personal choice. Just add a bit at a time since you can always add more later; it's harder to dilute it. These essential oils can also be added to an unscented lotion for even better protection.

The following essential oils have been found to be helpful:

lemongrass
eucalyptus
lemon thyme
mountain mint
orange peel
citronella
patchouli
vetiver
sandalwood
peppermint
tea tree oil

You can use lavender and tea tree oil directly on the skin. For all others it's recommended that you put the essential oil in a carrier (almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, etc) before applying to the skin.

Flypaper Strips
¼ cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1Tbsp. sugar
Brown paper bag

Method:
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Cut paper bag into strips. Dip strips into bowl until saturated. Dry overnight and hang with string for flying insects or lay around especially water areas for scorpions. A water area might be outdoor faucets, hoses, or areas that are perpetually damp. 

Ants Be Gone!
Spraying a mixture of vinegar and water in the area can help keep ants from invading your private space. If you have a problem that calls for more force, try my Pepper Spray. This is great for outdoors.

Pepper Spray
2 cups water
2/3 cup jalapeno pepper, coarsely chopped

Bring water to boil. Turn off heat and add jalapeno; let marinate a few minutes. Poor mixture through a sieve into a bowl to remove peppers. Put liquid in spray bottle and spray area you see ants and follow their path. Keep this away from children and plants since it can burn them.

Big Critters
We have lots of darling rabbits and frisky kangaroo rats around our house but they're not so cute when they get in my garden or inside anything that looks like a nice condo! I even found some in our outdoor grill! What I have used that seems to work real well is Cayenne Pepper. I sprinkle this around the area where I am trying to deter them, making sure it doesn't touch any plants. The critters hate the smell so they don't usually come back. It's necessary to reapply so buy the big bulk sizes at a place like Sam's Club or Costco. I have even used this in an area of our gravel driveway where a neighbor's dog mistakenly took to be his own private bathroom! That deluded thought didn't last long.