Despite being a regular barbecuer, hiker, and beach-day planner, I’m also a spontaneous one. I never remember to pack bug spray. Still, on the rare occasions that I have access to a full arsenal of very effective bug spray, I hate how a little bit of the mist always gets in my mouth. DEET keeps the bugs away to be sure, but I don’t like the thought of dousing my skin in it or accidentally eating some. I’ve tried natural sprays and liked them better, especially when out on a long hike in the woods. But even those left my skin feeling coated in a sticky film. My solution up until a few weeks ago was to go inside when the bugs got bad. As a kid I was far less bothered and dealt with mosquito bites after the fact by applying a generous amount of pink calamine lotion. Now, even a single mosquito buzzing in my ear can prompt me to call off any activity and take shelter. That was until, thanks to my mom, I tried a mosquito-repellent bracelet.
My parents recently bought an old house in Connecticut. It has a big wild yard (with a carp pond!) that my mother has been working hard to tame by pulling up weeds and cutting back overgrowth using a tool called a “lopper.” Since December, when they bought it, I have been daydreaming of the yard as a place to escape New York and quietly perform garden tasks as a kind of self care. So when my mother enlisted my help with the yard along with my boyfriend, father, and sister-in-law, I was into it. Again however, I neglected to plan for bugs. Luckily, my mother did the planning for us. She handed us each a plastic spiral bracelet loaded with natural mosquito repellent (citronella and lemongrass) which she picked up for 99 cents a pop.
This summer has been exceptionally rainy and, despite the full heat of the sun, the ground underneath every plot of weeds was a damp paradise for mosquitoes. In addition, the carp pond, still a work in progress, served as a happy home to in my estimation many thousands of mosquito larvae. My little bracelet had its work cut out for it. I liked that the Cliganic Mosquito Repellent Bracelet (now $13 cheaper than usual for Prime Day) was DEET-free, I even liked that it smelled like a citronella candle. And according to the packaging each bracelet lasts ten days. Still, I wondered, just how much localized essential oils could protect me? Then hours passed without a single bite. I was able to work diligently without needing to flail my arms around. My father, normally the most bothered by mosquitoes, didn’t complain once. I know there were bugs around us the whole time, I saw them, but they steered clear. The bracelet, which comes in a pack of ten, looks like a hair tie and smells like a picnic in the park, so I won’t be taking mine off all summer.