Culture & Entertainment

How to keep mosquitoes away

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

How to keep mosquitoes away

If you're anything like me you like to get away for the weekend – especially when the end of summer is nipping at your heels. Getting away for me means leaving the city. Typically, I try to tag along for wonderful weekends up at friends' cottages or farms, or I'll go camping. Everything about these weekends are perfect, except for the mosquitoes. Those little devils just LOVE me and at the end of an adventure-filled weekend I'll have dozens of bites. As much as I'd like to get rid of all the mosquitoes, I know they are of great value to our eco-system. Our bats, birds, dragonflies and other animals and insects feed off them, so we need to keep them around. We like to keep mosquitoes away because they're annoying, they bit us and they carry disease, but it's important to think about the ways in which we try keep mosquitoes at bay. Most brand name bug repellents contain DEET, which is toxic and harmful to the environment. Whenever you wash your hands or take a shower, DEET that is sitting on your skin finds its way into our waterways. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, DEET is one of the top 5 contaminants found in U.S. streams. Here are some toxic-free tips that can help keep you protected from mosquitoes. • Wear loose-fitting and light-coloured long pants and shirts and the cottage, camping or on a hike. Also, whenever I'm sitting around a campfire I always tuck my pants into my socks. That has successfully kept those little guys away from my toes (the most annoying spot to have a bug bite!). • You might like to smell pretty, but mosquitoes love it too. Shampoos, soaps, perfumes, deodorants and creams contain scents that mosquitoes go crazy for. Leave the beauty products at home when you go camping. Who cares if you smell – you're camping! • When camping, keep your tent zipped up all the time. I've perfected entering and exiting my tent in Olympic-worthy timing and, as a result, my tent usually contains a minimal amount of mosquitoes. I also notice that at the cottage, people tend to forget to close the door. Be on door partrol at all times. Also, if you keep your bedroom door closed, you should have a mosquito-free sleep. • If the mosquitoes are crazy where you are, invest in a mosquito or bug net. You can find one at most stores that sell camping or outdoor gear. • Bring some citronella candels up to the cottage or if you are staying at a campground. Mosquitoes get turned off by the smell. • Visit your local health store and pick up herbal repellent. They're quite effective and non-toxic. • If you can't part with your DEET, make sure to find a spray that only contains 30 per cent DEET (10 per cent DEET for kids). On Monday, the Green Living Blog will have a visitor. Tara Nolan, editor of the recently revamped CanadianGardening.com, will tell you how you can save water in your garden. Can't decide what to do this weekend? Get some ideas here!
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How to keep mosquitoes away

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