Bug bites are more than just irritating—they can also transmit serious diseases, including the West Nile virus, Lyme disease, encephalitis, and dozens of other conditions. To limit your exposure to these dangerous infections, you need to use a bug repellent. But the primary ingredient in most commercial bug repellents is diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET)—a potentially hazardous chemical.
Luckily, you don’t have to choose between insect-borne diseases and chemical bug sprays. There are several safe, effective, natural ways to repel bugs this summer.
In 2001, researchers presenting to the American Chemical Society reported that nepetalactone (the essential oil that gives catnip its distinctive scent) is about ten times more effective than DEET when it comes to repelling mosquitoes.
You can rub catnip leaves directly onto your skin to help repel mosquitoes, or brew a catnip tea and spray it on yourself once it has cooled. If you have a deck or other outdoor area, the best remedy is to simply plant catnip leaves around the edges. You’ll keep the bugs away—though you might notice a few new felines hanging around.