The price we pay for a nice Bank Holiday

The Good Life Letter 

13th May 2018

Ah, those heady days of last weekend... now long forgotten!

The smells of a hot day drifted over the land, fresh cut grass, BBQ smoke and in our case Citronella candles.

Nature always has its balance, and in the case of warmer weather that comes in the form of a range of biting and annoying insects.

How do the blighters get up and at ‘em so quickly after all of the cold conditions we have endured.

Given the sub-zero temperatures and winds strong enough to blow them into the Atlantic I had imagined that they might still be in hibernation for a month or two more, but it seems that Mother Nature set their alarm clocks and they’ve got their teeth nice and sharp to feast on our exposed flesh.

Normally I only worry about the midges and mozzies when we travel abroad, but the last weekend saw quite a local presence too.

Sand flies, horse flies and little mosquito type critters were much in evidence – hence the Citronella candles, but they alone were not enough and I had to resort to the full ‘Portugal Protection Pack’ normally reserved for our annual holiday.

Over time I have tried and tested many options to protect my family... and me too!

A few years ago I heard that the British Army used an Avon product called ‘Skin So Soft’ to help them fight off marauding insects, but whether this was a clever bit of marketing or my skin just doesn’t suit the formulation I don’t know.

Basically I just seemed to be adding a condiment to a mosquito’s lunch, I might as well have smeared ketchup on me for all the good it did!

But this year I think I have the measure of the little blighters – you might want to join me too.

Trust the wholly natural spray that stopped Mississippi monsters in their tracks

The world fight against the airborne peril

Getting the upper hand against biting and irritating insects has been a feature of human existence since we lived in the caves.

Smoke, tar and various oils have been used but the net result of this ancient activity left us with just four basic ingredients to use as protection by the time the Second World War arrived.

The first was the natural oil of citronella, which has been used for centuries to stop insect invaders – and to this day the candles are still a potent way to stop the night time attacks on the terrace when we are enjoying a small tincture at sundown.

The next was an organic ester called dimethyl phthalate which was effective but has some indications for being poisonous to mammals and a secondary use as a solid rocket propellant fuel... maybe not then!

The third was a product discovered in 1937 called Indalone... however, this also caused skin irritation in those who used it!

Lastly was a 1939 discovery which sounds like a vintage aeroplane – Rutgers 612. Another synthesised product which shared many characteristics with Indalone (the two are similar compounds) but wasn’t as effective.

The US Army decided to combine all three of the latter into the eponymous mixture known as 6-2-2... a derivation of the quantities used in the mix. But this still failed to impress the soldiers who were slogging through swamps and rainforests.

Finally, the world was introduced in 1953 to a product we know as DEET (diethyl-m-toluamide) which seemed to work better than anything else and continues to be the commonest insecticide and repellent in modern formulas.
It’s a pity that it is far from safe for human usage!

So you see science has failed us.

What we needed was the action of someone who understood how the mosquito mind worked and why it would take something really special to deal with them, once and for all.

Discover the natural power of a housewife’s remedy – now available in the UK

The troublesome pest

Earlier I mentioned a previous trauma.

Ten years ago, the children were small and we were in a slightly run down villa by the coast on the Algarve.

Overnight we had a rain shower and by the morning the air was thick with flying creatures but worse, as we had kept the windows open to create a breeze, our rooms were alive too.

The children were bitten terribly and we had to go to the pharmacy and mime to our broken Portuguese of ‘picada de mosquito’ – mosquito bites!

It was a lesson learnt that prevention was better than cure – hence my annual campaign.

This year I am about to put the health and well being of my family in the hands of a kitchen sink remedy created by a family in the Mississippi basin.

You might think that this is a risk, but I have more than enough faith that this is going to do the job.

Let me explain why.

First, I passionately believe that the ingredients used are the perfect mix of effective and safe natural products:

  • Lemongrass: Despite being a fragrant flavour in many Asian and Thai dishes this woody herb is a close relation to citronella but has a much more effective impact on mosquitoes. In a 2002(1) trial it proved to be as effective as other commercial repellents – including the much more dangerous DEET.

  • Lemon: A really effective salve for bites but also a potent repellent too – plus you already know how readily I would endorse anything to do with lemons.

  • Vanilla: Another powerful aroma that has been shown to disorientate mosquitoes, disrupt their senses and prevent them biting... plus also means I can justify a daily ice cream to top up my levels!

By combining these wholly natural ingredients into a lotion for her family, Freda Sojka created a storm in the US when this mix was found to be the only way workers repairing damaged river banks after the 2008 storms could avoid being bitten.

It makes for a fantastic story – and also the perfect solution for any insect attack whether here or abroad!
All I need to do now is replenish my home stock and await the next invasion.

If you want to know more about this fantastic natural insect repellent – click here

Yours, as always



(1)    Oyedele, A. O., Gbolade, A. A., Sosan, M. B., Adewoyin, F. B., Soyelu, O. L., & Orafidiya, O. O. (2002). Formulation of an effective mosquito-repellent topical product from lemongrass oil. Phytomedicine, 9(3), 259-262.



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