What would you do if your child comes inside from outdoor playtime with a swollen, bloody neck and they have no idea where it came from?
Over the past week in my Facebook mom groups the feed was peppered with photos of children with bloody bug bites all over their necks and hairlines! It looked horrifying; looking like some sort of disease, leaving bloody scabs and scars!
Kids are not the only prey. They also target pets!
This issue happened last year as well! One child care in Hastings, MN was hit hard with situation and is now warning parents of a terrible gnat problem! As reported by the Southwest Minneapolis Patch, the day care was informed by a local veterinarian these bites were caused by Black Flies (“biting Buffalo” gnats), who have blade-like mouth parts which slash the skin and feed on the blood. They target exposed sweaty skin, like behind the ears and necks and the victims do not feel the biting and do not itch until later.
What Are Black Flies (Buffalo Gnats)?
Black flies are known as buffalo gnats because of their humpback appearance. They are very small, usually only measuring up to 1/16”, but appear in large swarms in late spring and early summer and attack birds and mammals, including people and domestic animals.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, there are about 30 species of black flies in the state. The blade-like mouthparts of the female gnat slash the skin and feed on the blood in order to produce eggs. While they are not known to transmit diseases to humans, they can result in painful bites that produce bleeding, itching, swelling and inflammation, and could cause allergic reactions.
How To Reduce Risk of Gnat Bites
- Avoid areas where black flies congregate, such as shady areas with dense vegetation at dawn and dusk.
- If there is a bug-disease warning in effect, stay indoors.
- Wear white or bright colored clothes, because gnats are attracted to dark-colored clothing.
- Cover bare skin with long sleeve shirts, pants, hats and socks.
- Replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights, which attract fewer bugs.
- Use insect repellent.
Take the Toxic Repellent Route?
Did you know that most insect repellents on the store shelves are loaded with toxic chemicals, including DEET, which is so toxic that even the National Pesticide Information Center says you should avoid breathing it in, not spray it directly on your face and wash it off your skin when you return inside?
Many other repellents include another harmful chemical called Permethrin, which is considered a neurotoxin that can kill brain cells and has been categorized as a carcinogen, capable of causing tumors in the lungs and liver, immune system problems and chromosome abnormalities.
Knowing this, would you still choose to spray this on yourself, let alone your children?
The Natural Solution Repellent Route!
Natural solutions are becoming more popular because mom’s are educating themselves of the dangers of these repellents and are refusing to put these chemicals on themselves and their children!
So, here I am to offer a few different non-toxic and safe ways to keep these gnats at bay and protect your children like the Super Mom you are!
Essential Oils That Can Help Protect You
Citronella (Purify Blend)
How Do Essential Oils Help Protect You?
Use nature as your natural protectant! Yes, essential oils are pure potent nature! They are natural aromatic compounds extracted and distilled from plants for many benefits. These compounds provide a unique and natural aroma and are very unpleasant to insects.
How to Use Essential Oils to Protect Yourself
Any combination of the essential oils listed above will work as a DEET FREE protectant, but here are some recipes to help get you started. If you are in a pinch, just applying peppermint to the base of the neck will help!
Check out some great all-natural DIY recipes to help you protected this summer.
Gnat Be Gone Diffuser Blend
Keep the gnats away with this great diffuser blend that can be used in your diffuser on your patio, deck or other outdoor areas.
6 drops peppermint
6 drops eucalyptus
3 drops melaleuca
2 drops patchouli
2 drops geranium
Or try 15-20 drops Purify Blend (which contains citronella)
Natural Gnat Spray
This is an all-natural and easy DIY gnat spray to help keep they annoying gnats away.
What you need:
8 oz spray bottle
½ cup of white vinegar
½ cup distilled water
10 drops peppermint
10 drops eucalyptus
10 drops rosemary
10 drops lavender
- Pour vinegar and essential oils in the spray bottle.
- Close cap and rapidly shake to mix for 30 seconds.
- Add the water and shake again.
- Spray surroundings with the spray to keep gnats away.
- Shake before each use because the oils & water will naturally separate some over time.
- Keep away from eyes!
Homemade Gnat Body Cream
This non-toxic body cream is great for topical application to keep gnats from landing on your skin and biting!
What you need:
½ cup of shea butter
4 drops geranium
4 drops cedarwood
4 drops peppermint
- In the double boiler, melt the shea butter until it is liquefied.
- Remove from heat and add the essential oils.
- Pour the mix into a 4 oz container.
- Apply the cream on all exposed skin and reapply every 2-3 hours.
- Safe for children!
Shoo Bug Spray
What you need:
30 drops geranium
30 drops citronella
20 drops eucalyptus
20 drops lavender
10 drops rosemary
1 Tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol
1/2 cup Natural Witch Hazel
1/2 cup water (or vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (optional)
- Combine essential oils and vodka (or rubbing alcohol) in a glass spray bottle and shake well to combine.
- Add witch hazel and shake to combine.
- Add vegetable glycerin if using (not necessary but helps everything stay combined).
- Add water and shake again.
- Shake before each use because the oils and water will naturally separate some over time.