“Summertime and the living is easy….”  As I settle into the slower pace of summer these words from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” come to mind.  I certainly find myself taking more time than usual to goof off and I don’t even feel guilty about it.

Are you enjoying the long, summer days?  Certainly the weather seems to be a bit all over the place with heat waves and rain but since we can’t control the weather, hopefully you are able to do all the wonderful, fun, summertime things you’ve planned.

Heat Wave

If you find yourself struggling with the heat think about keeping a bottle of Peppermint Hydrosol on hand and spritzing yourself to cool down.  It also works really well for ‘hot flashes’ and over the years many of my clients have kept a bottle next to the bed at night for instant relief.  In her book, The A to Z of Essential Oils, E. Joy Bowles says Menthol temporarily interacts with cold-sensitive nerve endings, causing a cooling sensation at the site of application.”  While Suzanne Catty in her book, Hydrosols the Next Aromatherapy says: “Spritz Peppermint Hydrosol on the face to revive during hot weather or when tired, or use it to soothe hot flashes.” She does have the caution AVOID with children less than three years old.  For more ideas of what hydrosols are helpful you can read more here.

Insect Bites

Insect bites is something else that many have to deal with during summertime.  Not only do you want to have something to keep these pesky insects at bay, but if you do get bitten Melissa hydrosol can really help to soothe the bite.  You will find more in First Aid – Insect Bites.

Flies

In one of my earlier blogs in 2011 I shared information about an email I had received about flies in the summertime.  The sender was sharing tips from an unknown Author about ways to keep flies away from your living area.

In a nutshell, you fill a Ziploc baggie halfway with water and add four pennies.  The bags are then hung up or placed around the area.  It certainly appears to keep the flies away.  There is some speculations as to why this works.  One source attributed it to the ‘dizzying disco effect’ this has on the flies’ eyes.  Since  2013 pennies are being phased out in Canada one might have to try a different coin and see if that works too.

Insect Repellent Blend

Of course, making an insect repellent blend with your choice of essential oils is a great way to go.  Adding this to a spray bottle and spraying as needed is a good way to go.  Another very simple option, is to add a couple of drops of your blend to a cotton ball or tissue.  These can then be placed strategically at open windows and doors.

One of the challenges I encountered when playing golf was the black flies on the course.  I relied on my special Insect Repellent Blend to keep them away.  Lemongrass, Lavender and Peppermint in a 10:5:5 ratio. Added to a 30 ml spray bottle and topped up with my alcohol/water base for a 4% dilution. I kept the bottle in my golf bag.  That way it was always on hand for me to spray my clothes and bag before I started the round and to top up in areas where the flies were really rampant.  It worked like a charm, and as long as I used it no flies came anywhere near me!

Catnip

Catnip is another oil to think about when dealing with Mosquitoes and other insects.  In August 2001, researchers from the Iowa State University reporting at the 222nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, shared their findings that the nepetalactone, found in the essential oil of catnip was ten times more effective in repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the compound used in most commercial insect repellents [American Chemical Society. “Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET.” ScienceDaily, 28 Aug. 2001. Web. 15 May 2012.]

Entomologist Chris Peterson, Ph.D., with Joel Coats, Ph.D., chair of the university’s entomology department, led the effort to test catnip’s ability to repel mosquitoes. Peterson, a former post-doctoral research associate at the school, is now with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insects Research Unit, in Starkville, Miss.

While they used so-called yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) — one of several species of mosquitoes found in the United States — Peterson says catnip should work against all types of mosquitoes.

Peterson put groups of 20 mosquitoes in a two-foot glass tube, half of which was treated with nepetalactone. After 10 minutes, only an average of 20 percent — about four mosquitoes — remained on the side of the tube treated with a high dose (1.0 percent) of the oil. In the low-dose test (0.1 percent) with nepetalactone, an average of 25 percent — five mosquitoes — stayed on the treated side. The same tests with DEET (diethyl-mtoluamide) resulted in approximately 40 percent to 45 percent — eight-nine mosquitoes — remaining on the treated side.

Peterson says nepetalactone is about 10 times more effective than DEET because it takes about one-tenth as much nepetalactone as DEET to have the same effect. Most commercial insect repellents contain about 5 percent to 25 percent DEET. Presumably, much less catnip oil would be needed in a formulation to have the same level of repellency as a DEET-based repellent.

Why catnip repels mosquitoes is still a mystery, says Peterson. “It might simply be acting as an irritant or they don’t like the smell. But nobody really knows why insect repellents work.”

No animal or human tests are yet scheduled for nepetalactone, although Peterson is hopeful that will take place in the future.

Here’s to a wonderful, pest free summertime!

Reference
Joy Bowles, The A to Z of Essential Oils, Barons, 2003
Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols, the Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, 2001

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