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      Keeping the bugs away naturally

      Summertime means warm weather, long days and, unfortunately, lots of U.P. biting bugs. Fortunately, there are great bug repellents available to us, but many contain toxic chemicals. Many of us turn to DEET-based bug repellent sprays. DEET has proven to be very effective in battling bugs, but it's also proven to be hazardous to our health.

      A study at Duke University showed that DEET can have toxic effects on the brain and body, including fatigue, memory loss, rash, and sore muscles.

      "Our bodies aren't used to those synthesized chemicals," said Marquette Food Co-op Wellness Manager, David Sprouse.

      If insects are bugging you, but you're concerned with chemicals, the co-op offers some alternatives. Their active ingredients? Plants and essential oils.

      "Citronella TMs one, lemongrass, peppermint does work, lavender, cedar," Sprouse said. "It's safer. You don't have a risk of damaging your body or your clothing."

      And while some of these natural products are great alternatives to chemicals, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind while using them. First of all you're going to need to apply more often since they aren't as potent as chemicals, and also, they could be a bit more expensive.

      But many of the natural bug sprays sold at the co-op are made locally, keeping that money in our community. Customers swear by the Native Sister's Don't Bug Me Butter, made right in Gwinn.

      "A few of them, we have a hard time keeping on the shelf because we sell quite a bit of them during the peak bug season," Sprouse said.

      And if you don't live in the Marquette area and want to get some natural repellents, visit your nearest holistic, organic seller. We've also provided a list of local manufacturers below:

      Native Sister's Soap

      Colleen Carlyle, 591 S Rice Cake Rd., Gwinn, MI 49841

      (906) 346-6035

      Herbal Oasis Bodycare