When the prairie has enough rain and the spring is damp, the bugs will come. Mosquitoes have been particularly bad this year after all the rain we’ve gotten. They hover around the puddles that are left and wreck havoc on your ankles if you are out around dusk. The Ingalls had to deal with their share of these pesky bugs too when they started their homestead.
“The days were warm. Mosquitoes came out of the Big Slough at sundown and sang their high, keen song all night as they swarmed around Ellen [the cow], biting her and sucking the blood until she ran around and around on her picket rope. They went into the stable and bit the horses until they pulled at their halters and stamped. They came into the claim shanty and bit everyone there until great blotches raised on faces and hands.” By the Shores of Silver Lake p.287
Pa’s solution to the mosquitoes problem was to “smudge” them out. He built up small burn areas and smoked them out of the area. He also used something they called a pink bar which they put around the doors and windows to keep the bugs out. They may have even used this Zote Soap for their pink bars. Zote Soap can be used as catfish fishing bait, mosquito repellent, and an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent.
You can also make your own homemade bug spray for mosquitoes and other pests with just a few ingredients:
- 6 drops peppermint oil
- 6 drops eucalyptus oil
- 6 drops tea tree oil
Add as about 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil(almond oil, jojoba, ect) and add to 8 oz of water. Shake well before using. You can also add in a little extra lemongrass and/or lemon oil for extra protection.
Another issue we have in the warmer months is a wasp problem. I really hate spraying chemicals around the house and they always seem to find a way to get in anyways. This year we are trying these wasp traps. You just add a little apple juice in an old plastic container, stick one of the traps in the side and the wasps should go in but be unable to come back out. I’m hoping this works, it seems like such a simple idea!
Do you make homemade bug spray? Does it work for you? Have you used wasp traps before? What about the “pink bar”?
Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!