Tag Archives: Insect

8 Plant-Based Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings

We know how important it is for our health to spend time in nature. Unfortunately, it often comes with the risk of getting bitten or stung by bugs. Don?t let that put you off enjoying the outdoors. There are many natural ways to quickly relieve bites and stings, either in the moment or after you?ve come home. And, luckily, you likely already have most of these natural fixes in your kitchen or growing in your garden.

Plantain (Plantago major)

1. Herbal Poultices

One of the fastest herbal poultices you can make is to simply chew a few leaves of plantain and put the mash on a bite or sting. If you have a band-aid handy, you can put it on top of the plantain to hold it in place.

You can also make a poultice out of a number of different herbs by crushing the fresh or dried herbs in a bowl or pestle with a small amount of water or oil. Put the poultice on a bite or sting, then wrap it with a piece of gauze, clean cloth or band-aid to keep the poultice in place until the itch or pain has gone.

Plantain, lavender, echinacea, basil, oregano, calendula, chamomile, bay leaves, witch hazel, thyme and peppermint all make good bite-relieving poultices.

2. Onions and Garlic

Perhaps surprisingly, the natural compounds in raw onions and garlic that can make your eyes water can also calm an insect bite or sting. You can apply fresh onion or garlic slices directly on your bite. You can also chop, grate or crush onions or garlic to make a poultice.

3. Raw Potatoes

Similar to onions and garlic, raw potato that?s been crushed, grated or sliced can be applied to a bite or sting for relief. If you?re in a hurry, simply cut a potato in half and hold it against your skin.

4. Citrus Fruits

Certain natural compounds in citrus fruits have been shown to effectively repel and kill various insect pests, including mosquitoes and ticks. This may be why some people report that citrus fruits can also ease bites and stings.

You can use the juice or the pulp of lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruits directly on your skin. If you don?t have any fresh fruit available, lemon juice concentrate or prepared orange juice may also help.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains specific phytochemicals that have anti-irritant qualities. Make an oatmeal poultice by mixing equal amounts of quick-cook oatmeal and water in a bowl until it becomes a paste. Hold it on your skin with your hand or a cloth until the itching and pain subside.

If you have a lot of bug bites, an oatmeal bath is another good option. Add 1 cup (240 grams) of instant or ground oatmeal to a regular-sized bath. Soak for about 15-20 minutes. Periodically rubbing some of oatmeal on your bites during the bath can also help.

6. Essential Oils

Many essential oils have been shown to provide relief from pain and itching. Essential oils are typically mixed with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or olive oil, in a 1:1 ratio before applying to your skin to prevent any burning or discomfort. Some of the best essential oils for bug bites and stings are basil, chamomile, witch hazel, lavender, mint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme and eucalyptus.

7. Tea Bags

A tea bag makes a great pre-packaged poultice to put on bites and stings. Regular teas, such as Ceylon, green or white teas, contain natural tannins that can ease the discomfort. Chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and echinacea teas can also help calm irritation and promote healing.

It?s best to steep a tea bag in cold water in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water from the bag and put it on your bite or sting.

8. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds that will help reduce itching and swelling, as well as promote healing. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can simply break off a leaf and rub some of the fresh inner gel on a bite or sting. You can also use store-bought aloe vera gel or extract if you don?t have a plant nearby.

Related on Care2

7 Ways to Treat Bug Bites
Why You?re a Mosquito Magnet, According to Science
9 Plants to Grow that Repel Mosquitoes

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Sex on Six Legs – Marlene Zuk


Sex on Six Legs
Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World
Marlene Zuk

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: August 2, 2011

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

A biologist presents a “consistently delightful” look at the mysteries of insect behavior ( The New York Times Book Review ).   Insects have inspired fear, fascination, and enlightenment for centuries. They are capable of incredibly complex behavior, even with brains often the size of a poppy seed. How do they accomplish feats that look like human activity—personality, language, childcare—with completely different pathways from our own? What is going on inside the mind of those ants that march like boot-camp graduates across your kitchen floor? How does the lead ant know exactly where to take her colony, to that one bread crumb that your nightly sweep missed? Can insects be taught new skills as easily as your new puppy?   Sex on Six Legs is a startling and exciting book that provides answers to these questions and many more, examining not only the bedroom lives of creepy crawlies but also some of our own long-held assumptions about learning, the nature of personality, and what our own large brains might be for.   “Smart, engaging . . . Zuk approaches her subject with such humor and enthusiasm for the intricacies of insect life, even bug-phobes will relish her account.” — Publishers Weekly , starred review

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Sex on Six Legs – Marlene Zuk

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How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls – David Hu


How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls

Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future

David Hu

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $17.99

Expected Publish Date: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Seller: Princeton University Press

Discovering the secrets of animal movement and what they can teach us Insects walk on water, snakes slither, and fish swim. Animals move with astounding grace, speed, and versatility: how do they do it, and what can we learn from them? In How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls , David Hu takes readers on an accessible, wondrous journey into the world of animal motion. From basement labs at MIT to the rain forests of Panama, Hu shows how animals have adapted and evolved to traverse their environments, taking advantage of physical laws with results that are startling and ingenious. In turn, the latest discoveries about animal mechanics are inspiring scientists to invent robots and devices that move with similar elegance and efficiency. Hu follows scientists as they investigate a multitude of animal movements, from the undulations of sandfish and the way that dogs shake off water in fractions of a second to the seemingly crash-resistant characteristics of insect flight. Not limiting his exploration to individual organisms, Hu describes the ways animals enact swarm intelligence, such as when army ants cooperate and link their bodies to create bridges that span ravines. He also looks at what scientists learn from nature’s unexpected feats—such as snakes that fly, mosquitoes that survive rainstorms, and dead fish that swim upstream. As researchers better understand such issues as energy, flexibility, and water repellency in animal movement, they are applying this knowledge to the development of cutting-edge technology. Integrating biology, engineering, physics, and robotics, How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls demystifies the remarkable mechanics behind animal locomotion.

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How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls – David Hu

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Here’s How to Survive Cicada Season

If cicadas make your skin crawl, you’re luckyfor about 17 years, that is. That’s how long the “Brood V, Magicicada periodical” cicada lies dormant in the ground, pretty much out of sight and mind.

But then that 17th year happens and watch out! Billions of them crawl up out of the earthto mate, swarming and singing and flying helter skelter, landing on porches, in trees, in the back seat of your car and maybein your hair. And if one bug bugs you, the hordes that are Brood V will probably throw you into a tizzy.

Unfortunately, 2016 is the year when the cicadas, of the order Hemiptera in the Cicadidae family, are supposed to show up. And it won’t be just a few. They can reach a density of 1.5 million cicadas an acre in some areas, reports the Washington Post.

And man, will they make a lot of racket. With so many insects on the loose at one time, they generate what the Post described as a “menacing hum-whistle.” Think of the normal nighttime din you’re used to from a relatively low population of crickets and other bugsand magnify it by about 1,000. You can listen to a cicada “sing” herebut keep in mind, that’s just one. When a few million of them start flexing their tumbals, the drumlike organs found in their abdomens, the noise can be overwhelming.

The good news is, these cicadas are completely harmless. They don’t chew leaves, so while they may alight en masse on branches and bushes, they won’t devour them.

They don’t actually stick around very long, either. While we’re plagued with mosquitoes and flies from early spring until the first frost, these cicadas will only last about six weeks. They emerge and mate. Then the female lays fertilized eggs on live small twigs. Six weeks later the eggs will hatch and nymphs will emerge. The nymphs then fall from the trees and burrow into the ground to a depth of between six and 18 inches. There they’ll stay for the next 17 years, feeding on the juices they find in plant roots.

Here’s another benefit: cicadas don’t sting or bite, so unless they freak you out because they’re so big and garish-looking, you have nothing to fear from them.

But…if flying, noisy insects do give you the heeby-jeebies, here are some suggestions to help you tolerate the Brood V onslaught:

Take a vacation. Brood V cicadas are mostly restricted to the eastern seaboard. This year, reports Cicadamania.com, they’ll be primarily in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. If you live in these states, and the cicadas really freak you out, temporarily relocate, or vacation in the south, Midwest, Great Plains or Rockies if you can. If you’ve always wanted to visit California, now may be the time.

Minimize your exposure. Keep doors and windows closed, including those of your car, so the cicadas can’t fly into your space. If a cicada does get into your house, put a jar over it, use the top to push the cicada inside, then take the jar outside and dump it out. You can also keep a jar in your car in the event you need to get the bug outside. NOTE: It’s less traumatic to trap and release the insect than to kill it and clean up the mess. I know this from personal experience.

Wear earplugs to sleep. If the noise of a billion cicadas singing becomes intolerable, close your windows and wear ear plugs to bed.

Drown them out with the radio or white noise. Keep a radio playing or use a white noise app on your mobile device to help mask the cicadas’ singing.

Tackle your phobia head on. Psychology Today recommends a five-step process: read about cicadas until they become familiar; look at their pictures; get a toy cicada and keep it around you; go to an insect zoo or natural history museum where you can observe cicadas either in real life or on display; if possible, hold a live cicada. This kind of “behavior therapy” can help you overcome the anxiety you feel when you see a cicada.

One thing Cicadamania recommends you DON’T do is eat cicadaseven though millions of people in Asia and Africa regularly dine onthese creatures. The insects bioaccumulate mercury, so ingesting them could give you a concentrated dose. Plus, they’ve been down in the dirt for 17 years, where they may also have been consumingpesticides and fertilizers, warns The Atlantic. Lastly, you could choke on their body parts, which can be hard and sharp.

Far better to enjoy cicadas for what they are: a phenomenon of Nature you’ll only have the chance to witness once every 17 years, if that.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Here’s How to Survive Cicada Season

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Everything we know about neonic pesticides is awful


Everything we know about neonic pesticides is awful


Neonicotinoid pesticides are great at killing insect pests, which helps to explain the dramatic rise in their use during the past 20 years. They’re popular because they are systemic pesticides — they don’t just get sprayed onto plant surfaces. They can be applied to seeds, roots, and soil, becoming incorporated into a growing plant, turning it into poison for any bugs that might munch upon it.

But using neonics to control pests is like using a hand grenade to thwart a bank robbery.

Which is why the European Union has banned the use of many of them – and why environmentalists are suing the U.S. EPA to do the same.

The pesticides don’t just affect pest species. Most prominently, they affect bees and butterflies, which are poisoned when they gather pollen and nectar. But neonics’ negative impacts go far beyond pollinators. They kill all manner of animals and affect all kinds of ecosystems. They’re giving rise to Silent Spring 2.0.

“It’s just a matter of time before somebody can point to major species declines that can be linked to these compounds,” said Pierre Mineau, a Canadian pesticide ecotoxicologist. “Bees have been the focus for the last three or four years, but it’s a lot broader than that.”

Mineua contributed to an epic assessment of the ecological impacts of neonics, known as the Worldwide Integrated Assessment, in which 29 scientists jointly examined more than 800 peer-reviewed papers spanning five years. Their findings are being published in installments in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research, beginning last week with a paper coauthored by Mineua that details impacts on vertebrate animals, including fish and lizards. Here’s a summary of highlights:


Neonics can remain in the soil for months — sometimes for years. As they break down, they form some compounds that are even more toxic than the original pesticide. Because of these long-lasting ecological impacts, traditional measures of pesticide toxicity fall short of describing the widespread damages caused by neonics. In some cases, neonics can be 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.

Ecosystem impacts

Noenics don’t stay where they are sprayed or applied. They can be found in soils, sedimentation, waterways, groundwater, and plants far away from farms and manicured gardens. They can interfere with a wide range of ecosystem functions, including nutrient cycling, food production, biological pest control, and pollination services. Of course, the animals that are worst affected are those that visit farmlands — and water-dwelling species that live downstream from farms.

Land-dwelling bugs

Everything from ants to earthworms can be affected, absorbing the poisons into their tiny bodies from dust in the air, through tainted water, and directly from plants.


Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, are “highly vulnerable” to the pesticides. Not only do they drink poisoned nectar and eat poisoned pollen, but they can also be exposed to the pesticides through water and the air. This jeopardizes the ability of plants to reproduce, and the impacts can reverberate through ecosystems.

Aquatic invertebrates

Crabs, snails, and water fleas are among the water-dwelling species that can be exposed to the pesticides through the water in which they live. High concentrations of the pesticides found in waterways have reduced population sizes and diversity. The insecticides can affect the animals’ feeding behavior, growth rates, and movement.

Birds and other animals

Birds eat crop seeds treated with pesticides. Reptile numbers have dropped because the pesticides kill off their insect prey. And fish downstream from farms literally swim in the poison.

Knowledge gaps

Still, despite their prevalence, there’s a scary amount that we don’t know about these insecticides. The toxicity of neonics to most species has never been measured. For example, just four of the 25,000 known species of bees have been subjected to toxicity tests involving the pesticides.

And that’s not all

That’s just the ecosystem impacts of the poisons — the review doesn’t even deal with the effects of these insecticides on farmers or on those who eat farmed goods.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.Find this article interesting? Donate now to support our work.Read more: Business & Technology



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Everything we know about neonic pesticides is awful

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National Park Proves a Hard Gift to Give

A landowner’s plan to donate 75,000 acres for a national park in Maine has met fierce opposition, partly because many in the region loathe the idea of giving Washington a toehold there. This article:  National Park Proves a Hard Gift to Give ; ;Related ArticlesA National Park for Maine Proves a Hard Gift to GiveNational Briefing | New England: Maine: Man Pleads Guilty in Tusk Smuggling CaseCelebrating Deep Freeze, Insect Experts See a Chance to Kill Off Invasive Species ;

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National Park Proves a Hard Gift to Give

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Not just bad for bees: Neonic pesticides could damage babies’ brains

Not just bad for bees: Neonic pesticides could damage babies’ brains


The fruit and vegetables that Americans bring home and cook up for their families are often laced with pest-killing chemicals known as acetamiprid and imidacloprid, members of the neonicotinoid class.

That sounds gross. Even grosser than these nearly unpronounceable chemical names are new findings out of Europe that the compounds may stunt the development of brains in fetuses and young children.

The discovery, by scientists working with rats for the European Food Safety Authority, has led to calls in Europe to further restrict the use of the neonic pesticides. From a press release put out by the authority:

The [Plant Protection Products and their Residues] Panel found that acetamiprid and imidacloprid may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory. It concluded that some current guidance levels for acceptable exposure to acetamiprid and imidacloprid may not be protective enough to safeguard against developmental neurotoxicity and should be reduced.

We say “further restrict” because the use of imidacloprid is already severely restricted in Europe, barred for two years from being used on flowering crops and plants because it kills bees and other pollinators.

In the U.S., by contrast, both chemicals are freely used. Federal government tests have detected imidacloprid on one-fifth of produce sampled, including on 60 percent of broccoli and cauliflower. About 10 percent of produce samples tested positive for acetamiprid, including half of the samples of summer squash.

The New York Times reports that both chemicals are widely used in pesticide products:

Imidacloprid is one of the most popular insecticides, and is used in agricultural and consumer products. It was developed by Bayer, the German chemicals giant, and is the active ingredient in products like Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control, which can be purchased at stores internationally, including Home Depot in the United States.

Acetamiprid is sold by Nisso Chemical, a German branch of a Japanese company, though it was developed with Bayer’s help. It is used in consumer products like Ortho Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer.

The action by European regulators could affect the entire category of neonicotinoid pesticides, however.

James Ramsay, a spokesman for the European Food Safety Authority, which conducted the review, said the agency was recommending a mandatory submission of studies related to developmental neurotoxicity “as part of the authorization process in the E.U.”

“We’re advising that all neonicotinoid substances be evaluated as part of this testing strategy, providing that they show a similar toxicological profile to the two substances we’ve assessed in this opinion,” he said.

Beekeepers, food safety groups, and environmentalists are suing the EPA in an effort to ban neonic insecticides such as these. The new findings out of Europe will create a new sense of urgency for those groups — and hopefully for the federal government, which needs to be doing more to protect Americans and wildlife from the insidious effects of agricultural poisons.

EFSA assesses potential link between two neonicotinoids and developmental neurotoxicity, European Food Safety Authority
EU Officials Warn Of Health Risks From Pesticides Common On U.S. Fruits And Vegetables, Environmental Working Group
European Agency Warns of Risk to Humans in Pesticides Tied to Bee Deaths, The New York Times

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Flowtron BK-40D Electronic Insect Killer, 1 Acre Coverage


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Melting ice is a boon for archaeology

Melting ice is a boon for archaeology


As glaciers melt, they are revealing old tunics and bodies and stuff.

As glaciers melt and recede, they are revealing archaeological treasures from the civilizations that came before ours.

A humble tunic found at a site normally covered over with ice in south Norway is among the discoveries that wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of global warming.

From Reuters:

“It’s worrying that glaciers are melting but it’s exciting for us archaeologists,” Lars Piloe, a Danish archaeologist who works on Norway’s glaciers, said at the first public showing of the tunic, which has been studied since it was found in 2011. …

The 1991 discovery of Otzi, a prehistoric man who roamed the Alps 5,300 years ago between Austria and Italy, is the best known glacier find. In recent years, other finds have been made from Alaska to the Andes, many because glaciers are receding.

The shrinkage is blamed on climate change, stoked by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

The archaeologists said the tunic showed that Norway’s Lendbreen glacier, where it was found, had not been so small since 300 AD. When exposed to air, untreated ancient fabrics can disintegrate in weeks because of insect and bacteria attacks.

Well, old tunics are cool. Nobody is saying they’re not. But it’s too bad we can’t dig up some of the wisdom of past societies that treasured nature and valued lives lived in harmony with it. Alongside the smelly old clothes, of course.

John Upton is a science aficionado and green news junkie who


, posts articles to


, and

blogs about ecology

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Safer Brand Rose & Flower Organic Insect Killing Soap 32 Ounce Spray 5130


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