Tips & Tricks for Surviving Bug Season in Germany!

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With spring arriving, our little friend the mosquito or Mücke, has also begun to join us.  Most likely, your home has windows without screens.  Your home also most likely doesn't have air conditioning, which means you may be keeping your windows open, hoping for a breeze, thus inviting our little blood sucking friends in.  When I asked my German neighbor why they don't install screens on their windows she replied, "Then how will the bugs get out?".

After searching around at our local OBI and asking some locals, here are some methods for you to employ for dealing with these pesky insects. I have tried them all and have won the battle.  Here is how:

Keeping Bugs Out

Fleigengitter

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These are the screens you can purchase at your local home improvement store such as OBI, Haugabaumarkt, or even Lidl.  These screens are self-installed and can be quite effective in keeping out the pests.  Equip both doors and windows with the screens and enjoy a nice breeze in your home, without the bugs.  They come in different sizes and as either stick on or in a wooden frame.  After the first day of Spring I noticed Lidl had them for sale for only 1.99.  This is an affordable solution and definitely worth a try.  We have random windows here and there in our house with Fliegengitter, and those are the windows we open.  We still have bugs, but much less thanks to the screens.

Mückenstecker  

 Globol Mückenstecker

Globol Mückenstecker

This Mückenstecker is a mosquito repelling device which uses an electrical plug and a chemical carrier.  It looks a lot like a "Plug-In" for home fragrance.  The device releases a fragrance that is very unpleasant for mosquitoes, repelling them as well as house flies and other annoying insects.  Some of the advantages of this device are that it doesn't cause any noise, the scent is odorless and it's a fair price.  You can use a single device up to 8 hours per day, for 30 days.   The chemicals used are safe for humans, but it's recommended that it's not used near babies and children.  It's also toxic to cold blooded animals, and should be kept away from terrariums and aquariums.  Check the label for safety information.  The reviews on effectiveness are medium to high, so worth a try!  There are also plugs that work with a high frequency, but they are shown to be much less effective.  You can purchase the devices on Amazon.de or in most home improvement stores.

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Magnetic Screens

These screens are great for patio and balcony doors.  The screens will allow you to leave your back door open allowing fresh air in, but keeping insects out!  They are easy to install and use magnets to keep the screens together.

Moskitonetz

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If all else fails, you can always get a mosquito net for your bed.  This may sound a little over the top, but if you have been bothered all night by buzzing and bugs landing on your face, then you may be at the point of considering this option for your own sanity.  My 5 year old son is one of the unlucky people who is constantly harassed by bugs - they LOVE him. He was miserable all the time and covered in bites from the first day of spring until the first winter frost. This year, after the first spring day this year, we purchased a Moskitonetz (around 10 Euro on Amazon.de) and he has been SO happy...plus, he thinks he's sleeping in a fort which is a total bonus.  

Fan

 Ready for Action!

Ready for Action!

My husband and I prefer the fan method.   I love sleeping with the windows open, so we frequently have a visitor or two.  We have a taller fan that oscillates during the evening, which is pretty effective for keeping the bugs off us. Turns out, mosquitoes don't fly well against a strong wind.  This method works well, but can be a bit annoying if you aren't pleased with having a fan blowing in your face all night.  

Insect Repelling Plants

 Catnip for Repelling Bugs

Catnip for Repelling Bugs

Place any of these listed plants in your bedroom or living areas to repel bugs.  Most insects are disgusted by the odor and will stay away.  Some of the most effective plants are lemon balm, catnip, basil, lavendar, peppermint, and citrosum.  Catnip has been shown to be the most effective repellent, and even more effective than repellents with DEET (Repellent chemical used in many products).  You can crush the catnip and rub it on your skin.  If you have a mild bug problem, this may work for you.

Plan of Action for Bug Combat

Gather your supplies and get ready for bug battle.  First, opening the windows in the evening rather than the daytime.  The light increases the attraction for the bugs, and although they will still enter the house at night, it will be in fewer numbers.  Next, set up your arsenal of houseplants.  Put them right next to you on your nightstand, along with a small fan.  Install a mosquito plug as an extra defense.  Last, put up a mosquito net should all else fail.  

German Remedies for Bites

High Tech Methods

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The Bite Away is a product used extensively in Europe and has been earning many positive reviews.  The Bite Away is a patented medicinal device which was developed for the external treatment of insect bites and stings as gnats, mosquitoes, wasps, hornets and horseflies. You can find the device in a stick or compact design, making it great for carrying during outings and travel.  When applied immediately after a sting, the bite away prevents or minimizes the itching so that it becomes insignificant and prevents a subsequent swelling. When applied later, even after a couple hours, the itching will be minimized immediately as well or will disappear.  It works by using concentrated heat on the puncture site and causes decomposition of the insect venom.  There are two settings for this, one for kids and one for adults.  I used it on my son (kid setting) and he started screaming that it was "burning him to death".  I then used it on myself (which I should have done straight away) and sure enough, it feels like its burning a hole in your skin.  But, it's not.  The device works well, as the over 5,000 reviews on Amazon prove, but my kids won't let me get near them with the thing. 

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Davita MosQuit Stitch Healer 30050 is another high tech device that works amazingly well.  It is also aimed at fighting the insect venom with concentrated heat.    It is quick, efficient, and gentle treatment of insect bites and will reduce itching, swelling and chance of infection.  There are two settings, high and low,  depending on user sensitivity.

Natural Methods

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1.  Red Onion: Onion are used in Germany for a multitude of ailments and is said to be a decongestant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antibiotic, diuretic, and healer of mosquito bites!  Just slide the onion in half and place it on the bite.  

2.  Cabbage: you can crush up some leaves and apply directly to the bite.

3.  Toothpaste: works best when chilled.  It should reduce swelling and cool the area.  

4.  Potato: slice a potato and place directly on bite.

5.  Spit: the saliva contains enzymes that can stop itching.  I find this the most ineffective natural remedy, but if it's all you have on hand it's worth a try.