How can something so small be so annoying? I’ve heard it said more than once that the Blue Ridge Mountains are “God’s Country.” I guess the bugs missed the memo…they seem to think they run things around these parts, and attack with an apocalyptic vengeance. No more, we say! Here we’ve rounded up the most contemporary ways to stave off this plague. For decades we’ve been using harsh chemicals to combat these critters, but there are natural, safer options circling the market. We all know DEET is bad, but unfortunately, finding an effective alternative has been a challenge. Thankfully Natrapel has arrived. A DEET-free product that contains a 20-percent Picaridin formula, the spray lasts eight hours and actually works. No more bites or stings from mosquitos, black flies or ticks. The formula is safe to use around clothing, children, and fishing lines. Another option? Make your own homemade bug spray! It’s easier than it sounds. Follow our step-by-step instructions to create a soothing and effective spray that can be sprayed directly onto skin or clothing. This spray begins with Witch Hazel, a shrub derived extract that is commonly used as an astringent. Next we add Jojoba oil, another shrub derivative, that aids in the absorption of oils into our skin. Then we move onto Essential Oils, plant and resin extracts that are highly concentrated and effective. We’ve chosen a combination of oils that naturally repel insects, but remain safe and harmless to human skin. While humans find their scent appealing, bugs flee away from them. We finish the mixture off with distilled water, which has most of the impurities removed. The result is an all natural bug spray that combines the pleasant scent of lavender, minty freshness of tea tree and spa soothing eucalyptus. 1. Begin with 4 oz spray bottle. (A dark colored bottle is prefered.) 2. Add 2 tbsp Witch Hazel 3. Add 2 tbsp Jojoba Oil 4. Add Essential Oils: -20 drops Lavender Oil -10 drops Eucalyptus Oil -5 drops Tea Tree Oil -5 drops Citronella 5. Replace spray cap and shake to blend ingredients. 6. Remove cap, fill almost to the top of the bottle with distilled water. Shake again. 7. Spray and enjoy! Hesitant to put anything at all on you or your child's skin? Try the new Insect Blocker Mesh Jacket from Columbia. This lightweight zip up jacket not only creates a physical barrier between you and the bugs, but actually repels the bugs. Using their Insect Blocker technology, the mesh helps keep mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other flying insects away. The drawcord adjustable hem at the bottom allows you to cinch the jacket to your body to keep bugs from flying up into the jacket, while the hood helps cover your head and neck. Long sleeve shirts and pants are also available for both men and women. Ready to keep your entire picnic area or patio pest free? The ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Outdoor Lantern offers a 15’ x 15’ zone of protection. Using the heat created from a butane cartridge, repellent is released into the air from a small mat that has been saturated in insect repellent. The vapor released is kid and pet friendly and repels mosquitos,black flies and other flying pests. The adjustable lantern also works as a great light source without worrying about a candle or open flame. We found the vapor to be odorless and the bugs disappeared within 10 minutes of turning on. The butane cartridges and insect repellent mats are replaceable, so be sure to stock up on replacements when you order your lantern.