Drugstores around the country are stocking up on insect repellent as these hot and humid summer months get closer and the possibility of the Zika virus spreading in the United States becomes much more realistic. The thought of constantly covering your body in chemicals throughout the summer is a bit overwhelming, but the idea of mosquitoes carrying Zika in your backyard is also quite daunting. You might wonder which mosquito sprays are eco-friendly so you can breathe easily and stay protected from an itchy bite all while enjoying a cold beverage poolside. Luckily, there are some environmentally friendly options out there you can opt for rather than using pesticides and chemicals all summer long.
Brands like OFF, Repel, Cutter contain the chemical DEET, which is very effective in fighting off mosquitoes but isn’t the most natural option. Mosquito repellents made from natural plants are a popular alternative to chemicals, such as lemon eucalyptus oil. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lemon eucalyptus oil is found to be just as effective as DEET and provides the same long lasting protection. However, the CDC says these products should not be used on children under the age of three. Popular brands like Cutter and Repel carry this eco-friendly repellent.
Inside Edition recently covered an experiment done by the United States Department of Agriculture that tested the effectiveness of active ingredients in found in insect repellents by using volunteers who exposed their arms to hundreds of hungry mosquitos inside a special testing cage. They tested DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil, and anti-bug bracelets. The volunteers had no bites on their arms with both lemon eucalyptus oil and DEET. However, mosquitoes swarmed the volunteer's arm when wearing the anti-bug bracelets.
An alternative and DIY option is to make your own insect repellent by putting celery in a juicer and then rub or spray the liquid on your skin. You can also invest in some essential oils to dab on yourself, such as witch hazel, cedarwood, lavender, or rosemary.
Many people are worried about a possible Zika outbreak in the United States this summer. Health officials have called the virus an international emergency, which has already spread rapidly throughout Central and South America. Zika appears to be especially dangerous for pregnant women as it’s been linked to microcephaly — a birth defect that can result in newborns with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. As health officials narrow down the path of the virus, you prepare for the upcoming summer months at ease with the many environmentally friendly mosquito repellent options out there to stay Zika free.