When venturing outdoors in your garden, you may have all the tools necessary to garden, but haven't prepared with the tools necessary to fend off annoying insects. These irritating bugs, such as mosquitoes and flies, can interrupt your concentration and your pleasure of gardening. Rather than trying to swat them away with your hand or to squash them with a trowel, if you come prepared with these tips, you can take pleasure in gardening again without being annoyed by pesky bugs.
- Wear the proper clothing. The best type of clothing to avoid bug bites is light-colored clothes. Although wearing long sleeve shirts and pants will more adequately protect you from bug bites, you don't have to completely cover up (unless you're sensitive to the sun). To deter mosquitoes and biting insects, wear gray, light green, (khaki) tan, yellow, and white. Avoid bright colors and florals because the ultraviolet spectrum attracts honeybees, wasps, and yellow jackets. Avoid wearing the colors black, red, and blue. You can also buy clothing that has an insect repellant infused in it, called permethrin, which is absorbed by bugs when they land on it and eventually kills them. These Permanone-treated clothes are made by L.L. Bean and Ex. Officio.
- Wear insect repellant. Although this is an obvious solution, most people don't want to take the hassle to spray on some bug spray. Yet insect repellant will block the sensing mechanisms in biting insects such as mosquitoes, taking their flight somewhere other than your exposed skin. Since the garden is not as infested with bugs as a forest, you're safe to use a mild insect repellant with a small amount of DEET. I particularly enjoy the mild Skin So Soft Bug Guard Lotion with SPF 30.
- Wear a scented oil. This is an alternative if you don't like wearing insect repellants, and more eco-friendly. Oils have been proven to repel insects for a few hours, particularly the following scents: citronella, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, cedarwood, lavender, and the most effective--catnip oil. (Note: These won't last as long as insect repellant, but can make you smell better!)
- Wear a bug hat. The best mosquito protection is a bug hat that protects your face and neck from exposure to biting bugs. A bug hat has fine mesh netting hidden in the crown of the hat that when taken out covers down to your collar bone and cinches to keep bugs out. These hats come in a variety of styles, including bucket hats and straw hats. They also come in plenty of colors to match your gardening outfit.
- Watch the temperature. Biting bugs like mosquitoes like to come out when the temperature outside is between 45 and 68 degrees. Pay attention to the weather forecast, and prepare for more mosquitoes if it's been rainy lately. Mosquitoes also like to come out during sunrise and around sunset, so be extra cautious when gardening during those times.
- Light a candle. Although this tip may not be as effective as the others, if your gardening area is near a sturdy surface (such as your porch), you can place a lighted candle nearby on a table. The oils that were mentioned earlier as effective for repelling bugs are also in candles specially made to create a bug-free zone.
- Keep antihistamines at hand. If you do happen to get bit or stung by a mosquito or other bug, you can stop the itching by putting an antihistamine on the area, or use Vicks vapor rub, aloe vera, baking soda, lemon juice, mint toothpaste, or rub the inside of a banana skin on it. If you don't want to leave your garden, you can use your saliva or mark an X in it with a clean, semi-sharp point such as your nail (only if they're clean) to stop the itching for up to eight hours. Once the itching has subsided, you can focus on more important things.
If you follow the above tips, you will be able to again take pleasure in gardening. The only worry you will have is how long it will take for everything to grow!