Insect repellent

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Use nontoxic pest control devices

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Rather than spraying yourself, your lawn, or your garden with bug sprays made of synthetic chemicals, consider using nontoxic pest control devices. These devices repel or trap insects without the use of DEET, DDT, and other toxic chemicals, protecting you and wildlife from the harmful effects of chemical bug sprays.

Find it! Nontoxic pest control devices

Using a nontoxic pest control device helps you go green because…

  • It helps you to keep undesirable insects off of your skin and away from your plants without the use of commercial chemical pesticides that can harm human health and wildlife.
  • It can prevent other pest problems. Using chemical insecticides can lead to resistant populations, and by killing beneficial predators, can even lead to rebound population explosions in the future.

In 2001, over 3 billion dollars worth of insecticides were purchased in the US, representing over one-third of the total world market.[1] Nearly $1.3 billion was spent on insecticides for home and garden use, nearly as much as that used for commercial agriculture.

Exposure to small amounts of chemical pesticides can cause serious health problems in humans (especially children) and pets, and even those who do not use pesticides can suffer from their pervasive use. Pesticides may also harm the habitat of endangered species because of drift, runoff, or leachates that may contaminate the water, soil, or vegetation used by the species. Both the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon became endangered because of the use of the insecticide DDT, but populations rebounded after use of the insecticide was banned.[2]

Insect repellents for personal use

One of the most widely used ingredients in bug repellents intended to be sprayed on the skin is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it's commonly known. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse nuerological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.[3]

DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.[4]

Chemically treated insect-repellent clothing

Chemically treated insect-repellent clothing may be treated with the pyrethroid pesticide permethrin, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring pesticide pyrethrin found in chrysanthemums. Permethrin is highly toxic to aquatic organisms and honeybees—concentrations of less than one part per billion can be lethal to some species.[5] Permethrin is so toxic to some aquatic organisms that any detectable level of the chemical in estuarine waters (even less than one part per billion) will likely be associated with negative effects on wildlife, and it can kill some organisms at levels that are not even detectable in water.[6] Although permethrin has a relatively short half-life in the environment, it has routinely been found in ground and surface water at levels that are toxic to wildlife.


Many companies market ultrasonic pest control devices as good nontoxic alternatives to chemical bug sprays. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that they actually work. Between 1985 and 1997, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought complaints against several companies based on false advertising claims, but the devices continue to be sold.[7][8]

External links



To view more methods and products visits (under traps and lures)


I've been struggling with fruit flies in my house. A nontoxic solution that seems to be working is a container with a apple cider vinegar-water mix and a piece of fruit, covered with a hole-y lid. Every couple of hours, the container will fill with live flies. Put a piece of tape over the holes, take the container outside, and let the flies go free. Continue this for about a week, being sure to change and dispose of the piece of fruit daily (outside of your home). Soon enough, they'll all be gone.

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