They bite you on your ankles and elsewhere. They fly around you and land on you at the most bothersome places at the most bothersome times. That's why we call them bugs. The little gnats we call no-see-ums, and flies. - those are the most notorious local pests.

Being an herbalist, I experimented with various herbs to see what would run them off without hurting them. What I came up with is this: The combination of first spraying horehound extract, then lavender extract, really works!

You take an ounce of horehound herb - available from any herb store - and put it into a Mason jar. Fill it with water, seal it and shake it up. Then set it somewhere at room temperature where you can see it, so you won't forget about it, like the top of the fridge.

Then do the same with the lavender, but only using half an ounce of lavender flowers, again available from any herb store.

Let these sit for about two weeks. By that time the water will get deeply colored. The horehound will turn a deep brownish purple, and the lavender will turn a deep, well, lavender.

Strain the horehound into a bowl, discard the herbs, and pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Do the same with the lavender.

Now go to the area where you sit outside and spray it thoroughly with the horehound. Be careful to not get any on you, because it smells so bad. You may think I'm crazy while you're doing this because of the smell, but don't give up.

Once you've sprayed the horehound thoroughly, then spray the same area with the lavender. You may think that nothing could take away the horehound smell but, amazingly, the lavender will, if you spray enough of it. Now, we humans can no longer smell the horehound, but the bugs can. But they don't like lavender either. Now the no-see-ums and most flies will stay away for six weeks to two months. Yes!

During that time, just get some more horehound and lavender ready for when the bugs start coming back. Simple as that! The wonderful thing about the lavender is that you can use it if you get the occasional bite or sting, and it will take the irritation away. And it is one of the best things for burns of any kind. Plus,it is just plain good for your skin anyway - soothing, moisturizing, refreshing. And it smells great. Just don't spray yourself with horehound.

So you don't have to use toxic, bad-smelling chemicals whose smell you can't avoid, to rid yourself of bugs. Yes, the horehound smells bad, but you can easily make that smell go away, for us humans, with lavender.

Check online and find your nearest herb store if you don't already know where it is. You'll find this inexpensive and very effective. Try it and share your experiences with me.

• Joseph Garner, L.Ac., has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine for 15 years, as well as teaching in higher education and serving on the national Acupuncture College Accreditation Commission. Contact him at (602) 295-3080 or

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