Get the jump on the summer insect pests

SUMMER BUZZ: Summer is the season for outdoor eating and entertaining but it can be ruined by biting insects. Here are some tips on getting rid of these annoying pests.
SUMMER BUZZ: Summer is the season for outdoor eating and entertaining but it can be ruined by biting insects. Here are some tips on getting rid of these annoying pests.

WITH the onset of spring and the warmer weather we are besieged with numerous insect pests that not only annoy and irritate us, but often spoil our outdoor activities. Natural alternatives are a far better way of dealing with those creepy-crawlies that invade our living space.

Insects have a short life, and come and go in waves at particular times of the year. During the spring and summer months, flies, mosquitoes, midges and other annoying insects can become extremely bothersome, especially on warm summer evenings during outdoor activities. You can discourage pests by using an insect repellent light, repellent candles, or by simply applying a couple of drops of lavender oil to exposed skin. One of the easiest ways of dealing with these unwanted visitors, and deterring them from biting, is by using appropriate herbal oils.

Herbal oils, commonly known as essential oils, make useful natural body repellents. They can also be used to spray inside the house without the fear of polluting the air we breathe or endangering the health of our family or friends.

You can make a personal body repellent by dissolving 10 drops of lavender oil in 5 millilitres of methylated spirits and then blending this mixture with three-quarters of a cup of water. Store the mixture in a tightly sealed bottle or one of those handbag-size plastic perfume atomisers. The latter makes it simple to use – just spray onto exposed skin and rub well in.  

If you find that you are one of those individuals that seem to overly attract biting creepy-crawlies, you can adjust your repellent by increasing the amount of essential oil – an extra 10 to 15 drops of the oil should be sufficient. This all-purpose repellent will discourage flies, mosquitoes, midges and other insects from attacking you.  

An extra strong repellent that is effective when used as an indoor household spray consists of 30 drops each of lavender and citronella oil dissolved in 10 millilitres of methylated spirits and mixed with half-a-litre of water. Add the mixture to a pump-spray bottle and use on a fine mist setting.

In outdoor entertainment areas install red lights where you eat and cook, as they will help to repel insect pests. White lights some way off will attract pests. Avoid those electric zappers as they will also kill large numbers of beneficial insects.  

Burning eucalyptus leaves in the barbecue will repel mosquitoes, flies, gnats and midges. However, a far simpler and less smoky solution are to burn insect repellent candles, such as citronella and lavender. Repellent candles are also just as effective when used indoors.