Spray More. Swat Less. Smell Good.

Sarah McDonner with BYE-YOU BUG

Sarah McDonner with BYE-YOU BUG

Along the bayous of Houston lurk animals that kill more humans each year than any others. Forget about gators and snakes, more than 750,000 people die each year worldwide because of mosquitoes. And with the deadly mosquito-borne Zika virus on the rise, the need to protect oneself has never been greater. But DEET-based pesticide products, though approved by the Centers for Disease Control, can cause skin irritation and the Environmental Protection Agency says you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors. What to do?

The Power of Vanilla

The good news is that there are natural alternatives that can keep mosquitoes away while keeping you safe – and some are sold at the Westchase District Farmers Market. BYE-YOU BUG is a new vendor that makes all-natural, vanilla-based mosquito, tick and flea deterrents, in both sprays ($10) and lotions ($14). In 2013, owners Ryan and Sarah McDonner became curious about why mosquitoes bite. “We decided we wanted to make a safe, pleasant-smelling, non-greasy and biodegradable alternative to traditional repellants,” said Sarah. “We realized that the best way to ensure our products were effective was to conduct research.”

Enter Laura Plunkett, PhD, Sarah’s mother and a board-certified toxicologist. Plunkett was able to help the couple perform scientific testing, which has shown the BYE-YOU BUG formulas to be able to repel mosquitoes and ticks. “Strangely enough, we’ve even gone as far as breeding our own mosquitoes in our home,” Sarah said. “Sometimes we bring them out to farmers markets much like a beekeeper displays bees.”

Testing and Education

From offices in Westchase District that are within walking distance from the farmers market, the McDonners continue to research and refine their vanilla extract formulas with the guidance and advice from Harris County Mosquito Control and other agencies. “One of the components of our business that make us different is that we try to educate customers about how they can avoid raising mosquitoes in their yards and help prevent the spread of mosquito borne diseases,” Sarah said. “Another is our goal to provide enough data to register our product with the EPA as a biopesticide.”

To learn more, visit www.byeyoubug.com.