I was in Missouri for two weeks after my dad passed away. My stay was marked by shared memories and checking off To Do lists and quality time with my mom and extended family. Goodness, as I like to say.
Missouri is nostalgic for me. I will always consider it home. I can’t imagine a better place to grow up. I feel the need to emphasize just how much I love Missouri – because quite frankly, I think it’s gotten a bad rap lately (no thanks to Gillian Flynn). Missouri has rolling hills and peaceful lakes and the Mighty Mississippi and Budweiser and Busch Light. There are beautiful landmarks. The sounds of nature sing on summer nights and create an impressive chorus of bull frogs and cicadas. And it boasts the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met.
But, as fellow Midwesterners know, Missouri is plagued by mosquitoes. Pesky, relentless, annoying mosquitoes. Times of the day when people long to be outside – dusk to dawn – are when they attack and leave their victims with itchy welts that last for days. My boys seem especially prone to bites – perhaps the mosquitoes sense their fresh Oregonian blood and pasty white skin – but at one point during our visit, all three were covered in bites from face-to-toe. Literally.
I have avoided insect repellents with Deet since Abe’s pediatrician advised against it 7 years ago. I never fully educated myself on the reasons why it should be avoided. I just knew Deet = Bad. So I recently began doing some internet research on more natural alternatives. There were quite a few that seemed logical. But I settled on Cinnamon Leaf Oil after people commented not only on how well it worked, but how pleasant it smelled. I ordered it from Amazon Prime and waited two days for it to arrive.
When it came in the mail, I excitedly took the boys outside and told them I had a new oil that was going to keep those nasty mosquitoes at bay. I began dabbing the oil all over Benjamin’s arms and legs. It smelled a bit strong (kind of like a bad Christmas candle) but I figured the smell was tolerable if it worked.
Within 30 seconds, Ben began screaming bloody murder on my mom’s driveway. He threw his head back and hit it on the concrete. And then began flailing his arms and legs. “It burns. It huRTS. IT BURNS!” he yelled. The long-awaited Cinnamon Leaf Oil seemingly threw him into some sort of unexplained seizure. My mom came running to his side, questioning what had gone so terribly wrong. Unbeknownst to me, he had rubbed his mouth with his oil-anointed arm and the spicy sensation of the cinnamon was burning his lips and tongue. He started spitting. And then rubbing his tongue with his arm in attempt to wipe away the taste. Which obviously only made it worse. He screamed outside on the driveway for at least five minutes before we could settle him down long enough to come inside. My most pain-tolerant child continued to yelp as we led him in the house and ran the bath water.
He scolded me, saying “never, ever use that oil again.”
Needless to say, I now have an $8.60 bottle of Cinnamon Tree Oil if anyone is interested. Use this blog as a warning label. Cinnamon infused vodka, anyone?
You win some. You lose some. To mosquitoes and all naturale.
I should mention that I referenced the Environmental Working Group (my health Bible when it comes to foods/beauty products/household cleaners) after the incident. It notes:
“Among the four repellent chemicals EWG found to be top picks is DEET, which is widely used but much maligned. DEET’s safety profile is better than many people assume. Its effectiveness at preventing bites is approached by only a few other repellent ingredients. DEET isn’t a perfect choice nor the only choice. But weighed against the consequences of Lyme disease and West Nile virus, we believe it is a reasonable one.”
So, there you have it. I should have bought Off all along. I’d still love to hear non-Deet ways you’ve found to fend off mosquitoes. Please ensure they are tried and true and will not result in a man down on the driveway. Thanks in advance!
Eat Clean. Live Dirty in Deet.