With the onset of warmer weather we are besieged with insect pests that not only annoy and irritate us, but often spoil outdoor activities.
During the spring and summer months, flies, mosquitoes, midges and sand flies can become extremely bothersome, especially on warm summer evenings.
Natural alternatives are a better way of dealing with those creepy-crawlies.
One of the easiest ways of repelling with these unwanted visitors, and deterring them from biting, is by using the appropriate essential (herbal) oils.
Essential oils are not only useful as body repellents, but 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.
To make a personal body repellent dissolve 10 drops of lavender oil in five millilitres of vodka and blend this mixture with three-quarters of a cup of water.
Store in a tightly sealed bottle or a handbag-size plastic perfume atomiser. Spray onto exposed skin and rub well in.
If you seem to overly attract biting creepy-crawlies, adjust your repellent by increasing the amount of essential oil - an extra 10 to 15 drops should be sufficient.
This all-purpose repellent will discourage flies, mosquitoes, midges and sand flies 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 oils dissolved in 10mls 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, red lights where you eat and cook will help to repel insect pests while white light some way off will attract pests.
Avoid electric 'zappers' as they kill large numbers of beneficial insects.
Burning eucalyptus leaves in the barbecue will repel mosquitoes, flies, gnats and midges but a far simpler solution is to burn insect repellent candles, such as citronella and lavender which are also effective indoors.