When you work outdoors for nine months out of the year, you become very focused on physical comfort. So, while other women may obsess over designer clothes, I have a “thing” for outerwear and work shoes. Let’s put it this way: I won’t be lusting after any Manolo Blahniks until they come out with a waterproof, steel-toed line (although it has occurred to me that those pointy-toed stilettoes lots of women wear might be useful for digging out dandelions).
Generally, being comfortable means finding clothes and accessories that keep you dry, at a suitable temperature, and free of bites and scratches. Today I’m going to share with you one of the things I do to take care of that last bit: come home from work without being covered with welts from the thousands of insects that want a piece of me every day.
Insect bites anywhere are annoying, but what really gets to me is when hundreds of tiny bugs swarm around my face. When it goes on hour after hour, it’s enough to drive me crazy, so I really need something to keep the little bloodsuckers away from my mug!
Like a lot of people, I don’t like to use Deet-based bug repellants. For one thing, I hate the smell of Deet. For another, I’d have to have it on practically every day, and that’s a lot of exposure, even if I apply it to my clothes and not my skin. I’ve tried Deet alternatives, but unfortunately I have to say that Deet is the only thing I’ve ever found that actually keeps bugs at bay. But I do have a trick up my sleeve, and you might want to try it, too.
You need to start with a sturdy, wide-brimmed hat. This is one of those things in life worth its weight in gold, and just about as hard to find as a real gold hat since people stopped wearing hats as a part of their everyday attire. I can’t help you find the hat, although I can tell you where I bought the one I’m currently using. There’s a women’s clothing company called Coldwater Creek, and occasionally they carry really sturdy “straw” hats very suitable for use in the garden. A couple of summers ago I found one for about $8 in their outlet store, and I bought two. I’m still using the first one, and I have the spare stored away for when the first one gives up the ghost (which doesn’t promise to be any time soon, incredibly).
The hat has a wide brim, and the brim is thick. Although the hat is flexible, the brim is sturdy enough to resist a little bit of pressure. It also has a real hatband to absorb sweat. That’s what you’re looking for in a hat.
Next, you’ll need this item: a mosquito head net. I bought mine in the sporting goods department at a local Wal-Mart. Other places where you can probably find a similar item include sporting good stores, K-Mart, Target or any other discount retailer. I think they’re actually made for hunters, hence the “camouflage” pattern you’ll see if you follow the link above.
Use a safety pin to secure the net to the crown of the hat and then pull it down over your face. It only extends down to about the clavicle, so you may need to wear a lightweight shirt that buttons up to the collarbone to keep bugs from biting you below the neck. It works best to pull the net down over your collar, not the other way around. This summer, though, when the temperatures have topped 85 degrees F (30 degrees C) for weeks and I’ve been working with as little clothing on as possible, I haven’t had a problem with bugs biting my neck. They just collect on the outside of the net, where the wide hat brim holds them far enough away from my face to allow me to work without having to slap insects away constantly. This setup is a godsend for me.
So there you have it: my “hat trick.” For the cost of a topper and a few bucks in netting, without using any bug repellants, you can keep insects away from the most vulnerable part of your body. If you try it, let me know how it works for you, and it would be great if you would share your own methods for foiling flying, biting things. Take that, bugs!