Do mosquitos and other insects flock to you like moths to a flame? Do you douse your skin in bug repellent before heading outside? It might be time to think twice before you pick up your next bottle of bug spray. Though there hasn’t been a ton of research on insecticides and increased risk of breast cancer, many common bug-killing chemicals have been classified as likely human carcinogens (aka, cancer-causing substances). To minimize risk—while still staying bug-free—we’ve compiled a few alternatives:
• Fleas and ticks: Many pet owners turn to flea collars to keep those pesky bugs at bay, but the collars may contain a human carcinogen chemical. Instead of a collar, stay vigilant about your pet’s environment—vacuum daily in the warmer months, use a flea comb to brush out their fur once a day and wash your pet’s bedding twice a week to kill any potential larvae.
• Yellowjackets and wasps: Though these bugs might be helpful in getting rid of other annoying insects, they’re certainly not fun at your next outdoor barbecue. Rather than spray a heavy chemical insecticide to remove wasps from your yard, try setting out wasp traps. You can either make you own from a plastic bottle, some tape and a piece of string (Google “wasp trap” for detailed instructions!), or you can buy traps from your local hardware store.
• Mosquitos: The annoying, itchy bites we all know all too well are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems mosquitos cause. The bugs are known for spreading several serious diseases, including West Nile virus, malaria and Zika virus. Here’s how to get rid of the pests: Make sure your yard is free of standing water, fix any broken window screens, wear light colored clothing instead of dark (it’s less attractive to mosquitos), wear lemon eucalyptus oil as a repellent (it’s one of the least toxic mosquito repellents!) and try to avoid outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when the bugs are most active.