Take a bite out of insect stings
If you love summer but hate bug bites and insect stings, take a natural approach. Our defensive strategies will help protect you and your family from the pests of summer.
We’ve waited all year for summer to arrive, and now we’re in the thick of it. But along with sunshine and outdoor activities come bug bites and insect stings to dampen summer fun. Don’t hide indoors or douse yourself with commercial insect repellents. Try natural ways to outsmart these pests or take the sting out of getting bitten.
Don’t let the bugs bite
When it comes to bugs and insects, think defence. Although mosquitoes can bite at any time, they’re most active at dawn or dusk. Ticks favour trail edges, wooded areas, or tall grass.
Natural bug repellents
Currently, two natural bug repellents have proven effective when compared with low concentrations of DEET:
Small-scale studies looking at fennel, thyme, clover oil, celery extract, and neem oil have shown promise. However, don’t try to make your own repellents, as some oils can be toxic and irritating in high concentrations. Citronella repellents give limited protection, while ingesting vitamin B1, bananas, onion, or garlic doesn’t seem to work.
Bug-proof your property
Health Canada has many suggestions for making your property less attractive to mosquitoes and ticks.
Remove ticks’ favourite places:
Bugs in general
Keep them out:
They bit. Now what?
Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, fire ants, and biting flies can all cause painful reactions. Bites from infected mosquitoes and ticks can lead to disease.
Reactions result when insects inject venom or other substances into the skin. The severity of the response depends on personal sensitivity and the number of bites or stings. Most people suffer mild reactions such as itching, stinging, or swelling.
For natural ways to alleviate swelling and pain, cover the area with
When it’s more than just an itch
Prevention is the best protection, but sometimes it’s not enough.
Allergic reactionsAlthough few people are severely allergic to insect venom, anyone suffering from anaphylaxis—a severe allergic reaction—requires emergency medical attention. Watch for
West Nile virusInfected mosquitoes pass on West Nile virus, now found in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Many people display no symptoms. For others, typical flu-like symptoms including fever, head or body ache, fatigue, mild rash, or swollen lymph glands appear within two to 15 days.
Seniors and those with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems have greater risk for severe reactions. For them, the virus can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, and acute flaccid paralysis, which can be fatal. Symptoms may include
Sudden onset of these symptoms requires immediate medical attention.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the risk of contracting Lyme disease is fairly low, but it is increasing. Higher risk areas include parts of southern and southeastern Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, as well as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and much of southern British Columbia.
The disease spreads through the bite of the blacklegged tick, sometimes called the deer tick. Pets can’t spread the disease to people, but can transfer infected ticks to them.
After being in an affected area:
If untreated, Lyme disease goes through three stages.
Conventional treatment is a course of antibiotics, and fatalities are rare.
Whichever repellent you choose, be sure to read directions carefully to get the most protection.
According to Health Canada and other organizations, the following are not effective or long-lasting in repelling bugs.