By Nancy Szerlag / Special to The Detroit News
August 31, 2002

I hope all the media coverage of the recent events connected with the West Nile virus don't keep you and all your little ones from enjoying the garden over the next several weeks.

If the recommended protocol of slathering the body with an insect repellent containing DEET is unacceptable, I've got an alternative for you.

It's an all-natural bug repellent called SkinSkreen that really works. It also soothes the itching and discomfort from existing bites.

I gave it what I consider to be the acid test and it passed with flying colors. The participants in this experiment were three guys who were helping me with a construction project next to my pole barn. The weather, a sunny, balmy 86 degrees, was perfect. Problem was, behind my barn is a water feature that is better known as a swamp. And the skeeters were out in full force. The sound from their wings was so loud one guy thought there was a motor in the barn giving off a high pitched whine.

Our project took a little more than two hours, but no one was rushing because it was a great day to be outdoors. What about those mosquitoes?

They left us alone.

The active ingredients in SkinSkreen spray-on formula are citronella, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, cedar oil and rosemary oil. The inactive ingredients, also called the carrier, are water, sorbitol, lecithin, olive oil and xanthan gum. No scary chemicals there. And you won't find any EPA warnings on the label, except to avoid your eyes during application.

SkinSkreen also repels black flies, deer flies and ticks, so you may want to make it a staple in your garden tool kit.

SkinSkreen is available in a 4 ounce spray container. A companion product, EquuSkreen is available for use on horses and other animals and comes in a 32-ounce spray container.

In Metro Detroit, SkinSkreen and EquuSkreen are available at Evergreen Home and Garden stores, Soulliere's Landscape and Garden Center, Four Seasons Garden Center and Marcial's Nursery and Garden Center. You can also order the products by phone at (877) 848-7600.