We are RV camping Near Karabeka Falls, not far from Thunder Bay. It is a summertime high, crowded with happy campers and hordes of happy mosquitoes.

Our neighbours seem to be enjoying their camping experience. Since our campsites are almost kissing, we cannot help but see and hear each other.

Our neighbours: Father, reigning at the picnic table, Pabst in one hand, Deet in the other.  Mother, lining the 2 younger children up in front of Dad for their evening cloak of repellant spray. A common safeguard choice against the marauding mosquitoes. While also clamping a bracelet on each small arm, Mom warns, “This is not a wrist candy. No eating it.”  

I think. “With that mandate, I might be inclined to at least smell the non-wrist candy. I wince at the idea of inhaling those fumes. Wrist guards and spray on Deet? True, popular protections against the marauders. But at what cost?”  I silently add, “Don’t spray that DEET on your plastic table cloth. It’ll melt it.”

A ponytailed teenage boy is sporting a hipster repellant Clip-On that clangs ostentatiously against his oversized set of keys. Keys to open the RV, access numerous storage bins, start the car, secure the bikes, motor the boat. The modern camping family. The teen is proud of his new sonic toy commandeering his left wrist, while his right hand is haphazardly lighting artificial fire logs with his handy Bic. He looks like he is having a ball!

I ponder this double dousing of the Clip-On and Sonic. “Stand still, young man. You are wearing a Clip-On and it only works well when the fumes can hover around you. How does one expect a teen to stand still? Maybe it is safer if he runs around to disperse the fumes away from himself? Would he be surprised to learn that the Sonic might even attract mosquitoes, according to consumer reports?  Perhaps fake logs are part of the new ‘clamping’.” I sigh.

I do not notice any natural repellant being tried. No citronella candles. No pleasant scents of essential oils in diffusers. But I do recall something I had read.

Natural insect repellants are NOT tested by the Environmental Protection Agencies. It is not that they are too busy (well, maybe they are busy) but it is because they have already deemed that the chemicals in natural insect repellants are harmless. Meaning, any company that is allowed to sell a natural mosquito repellant DO NOT  have to prove that they really work. This LOOPHOLE permits companies to plow ahead and advertise their product. But not just any company can sell something and claim it as a repellant. The ones that are permitted just do not have to prove that it really works. 

Marketing tells us what to buy and what not to buy. Customer confusion continues to reign. And so, do mosquitoes. Once again, it is up to us to find any way to protect ourselves.

I am not disheartened. Our neighbours are happy in their space. We in ours. We sit in front of our camp fire. Our citronella candle winks at us from the picnic table. We cover our exposed skin with our neem and pray that the neighboring wind blows no toxic fumes our way. 

We prefer neem. Safe, effective, healthy.