I now live in the Appalachians, a wetter part of the country with fluctuating temperatures. While the mountains carry a lot of joy and beauty, they also harbor their own fair share of insects. The burgeoning families of deer that cross through our woods is, perhaps not shockingly, echoing an increase in the ticks that we bring home. We’re looking towards the rise in heat and humidity in the summer, bringing with it the bloodsuckers and biters that bother so many of us. We have holistic plans to handle this, such as the amelioration of water pooling on the land, the encouragement of bats with houses, and the attracting of crow and other birds!
Here at Haven Herbs we make a product designed to tackle this nuisance. Our Bug Off! is a potent sprayed-on solution of decocted neem, catnip, and eucalyptus that is stabilized with high-proof alcohol and essential oils. Those include mint, tea tree, geranium, cedarwood, and lemon eucalyptus. Lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora), also known as lemon-scented gum, is the star of the show here. The oil derived from this plant is shown to be at least as effective as DEET at preventing our favorite nefarious bloodsuckers from taking hold. It has been demonstrated that even roaches show aversion or full toxicity to OLE (oil of lemon eucalyptus). Cedarwood oil confuses and disorients bugs by inhibiting their perception of pheromones. Geranium contains geraniol, which acts on mosquitos. Tea tree and mint are both intensely aromatic, with the added benefit of tea tree’s antiviral and antibacterial properties.
I use it in all the normal ways that we would use a DEET repellent, but with the added benefit of being able to safely use it on my dog when we go trekking. That’s not to say that I don’t also pursue flea/fick/heartworm medicine, but it's nice in this part of the world to have added layers of protection.