Nothing is more annoying than a swarm of mosquitoes on a picnic. They can send everyone scurrying for the shelter of a screened enclosure. But if you want to be standing in the middle of a stream fishing, or out in your garden planting and weeding, it is not at all convenient to retreat to a shelter.

There are many insect repellents available. Many of them contain DEET ( N,N-Diethylmeta-toluamide). DEET is very effective at deterring insects, but what happens when it is absorbed by the body is still not determined. We know that it can pass through the brain barrier, but we do not know what the effects are on the brain tissue. Especially for young children, but for all of us, I suggest using DEET on clothing such as hats and sweatshirts, and putting less harmful repellents on bare skin.

Singing Flower Studio makes two kinds of insect repellent with essential oils. One is a lotion and the other is a rub-on stick. They contain natural oils such as almond, macadamia and avocado oils and essential oils of Cedar, Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass and Galbanum. The galbanum essential oil is added to deter ticks and other parasites. All of these oils have a woodsy, piney smell that is pleasantly strong. Lotion is a good choice if you are going to be out for an hour or two. The stick repellent will last longer (about 6 hours), as it sits on the top of the skin for a longer time.

Our lemongrass lotion, which is refreshing as a body lotion also helps keep offending mosquitoes away. Lemongrass is the same scientific genus as citronella, but a different species. It is a good option if you are sitting on a patio, or in a partially protected area. It is safe on children as young as six months old.

If you have a new baby, I suggest putting a glob of lotion on a tissue near the foot of a crib or child’s bed, not near to the face. It can also be placed underneath a child’s bed. This helps discourage insects from flying in the air around the bed, but it does not create breathing issues for the baby. Essential oils are strong natural chemicals, so even though they are made by plants, and not in chemistry labs, it is best to treat them respectfully.

For those of us in Wisconsin and many other states, ticks are everywhere in tall grass and sometimes in low hanging trees. Be sure to bathe young children after an outdoor excursion in a bath or convenient lake. Ticks take 24-36 hours to latch onto human skin, so they can be washed off soon after an excursion. If you find a tick attached to skin, put it into a plastic bag so that your doctor can test it for disease. The tiny deer ticks carry most of the diseases. These are the size of the head of a pin before they are engorged.

Summer is a wonderful time to be outside playing, fishing, picnicking, and enjoying the warm summer weather with family and friends. Protect yourself from insects and enjoy being outside.