All Natural Mosquito Repellents
We often joke that the mosquito is the true “Minnesota state bird,” and this year they are especially bad. The combination of the late spring and the hot, wet summer that we are having has made Minnesota a mosquito haven. It seems next to impossible to spend time outdoors without getting a few bites. People at baseball games are always offering us these toxic mosquito repellant sprays, but I would rather get bitten than put those chemicals on my skin. When it comes down to it, a mosquito bite is more of an annoyance than anything with swelling and itching that can last from a few days to weeks.
My younger son seems especially prone to mosquito bites, and right now his arms and legs are covered with proof of that I spent some time looking for natural mosquito repellents, and here’s some of what I have found. The best way to safeguard our family’s health and avoid mosquito bites is to exercise prevention. The first step in prevention is clearing our surroundings where mosquitoes can thrive and lay their eggs. Mosquitoes thrive in muddy and standing water; even moist plants can contribute to the growth of mosquito larvae. Don’t leave items like buckets outdoors that can trap rainwater and provide a breeding ground for mosquitos.
Many people tell me they want to be health conscious and environmentally friendly, but they also want to protect themselves from pesky bugs without applying chemicals. In this article I will review some alternative mosquito repellent ideas to avoid help you avoid unhealthy chemical-based products.
Attempt to reduce the things that can attract mosquitoes. They are drawn to the chemicals that are released by our perspiration as well as the humidity around our body. After a rigorous workout, our bodies emit more carbon dioxide, so burning candles or other sources of carbon dioxide can help to ward them off. Our bodies also emit lactic acid after exercise and this is also a trigger for mosquitoes! Avoiding salty or potassium rich meals before going outdoors may help. You also may want to consider that certain fragrances also attract these insect so avoid wearing perfumes and scents. The color of clothing has an impact on mosquitoes. They are very attracted to dark colors so, as much as possible, try to avoid wearing them outdoors especially night time.
Commercial mosquito repellents leave an unpleasant smell on your skin, can be chemical-based and may be the cause of some health concerns. Using plant-based oils like cinnamon oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, lemon oil, geranium oil are examples of aromas that may help fend off mosquitoes. Some information suggests drinking a tablespoon or two of organic apple cider vinegar to keep mosquitoes at bay. A mixture of herbs and essential oils to create a “bug juice” is also recommended by herbalists. When buying ready-made, natural mosquito repellents, check for the labels bearing herbal, all-natural, Deet-free, non-toxic, non-chemical and hypoallergenic. According to some recent studies, deet-based mosquito repellents cause brain and neurological damage making it very harmful to one’s health.
Following are some natural mosquito repellents that you may want to consider:
- Soy Oil- natural repellents made of soybean oil are as effective as their deet-based counterparts plus the fact that it is cheaper and easier to find. It is also a natural body moisturizer so it doesn’t harm the skin. Try organic soy oil as a repellent.
- Citronella- use only pure essential oil of citronella which is also works best for your skin. You can purchase citronella oil from stores selling organics.
- Cat nip- according to research in Iowa, the essential oil found in the herb cat nip is far more effective than deet in warding off mosquitoes.
- Lavender- also one of the most effective mosquito repellents available
- Need seed oil- a research at the Malaria Institute in India found out that an ingredient in Neem oil is more effective as a mosquito repellent.
Let me know how these ideas work for you, and I would love to hear about any other natural mosquito repellents you have tried!
Lastly let’s debunk some myths about mosquitoes from the University Of Connecticut Health Center (http://today.uchc.edu/headlines/2008/jul08/myths.html):
“Myth: Taking large doses of vitamin B — some say B-1, others say B-6 or B-12 — causes the skin to exude an odor that wards off mosquitoes.
Reality: Uli Bernier, a research chemist in the Mosquito and Fly Research Unit of the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Gainesville, Fla., tested the vitamin B theory. “We dosed ourselves so high you could smell us,” he says. Verdict: The mosquitoes still bit.
Myth: Tying a sheet of Bounce fabric softener through a belt loop or rubbing one on your body keeps mosquitoes away.
Reality: No such luck, Bernier says. “I walked around with sheets flapping from my arms,” and the insects still bit.
Myth: Eating lots of garlic or taking garlic supplements repels mosquitoes.
Reality: Bernier found garlic had no effect, as did a study at the University of Connecticut Health Center. However, the lead author, T. V. Rajan, thinks garlic could work. It’s just that the amounts required might not be “socially acceptable,” he says.
Myth: Mosquitoes can’t bite through clothing.
Reality: They can! According to Bernier, who has helped develop repellent-treated clothing for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, “It is quite evident that they can even bite through thick uniforms when there is insufficient or no repellent present.” Clothing may, he concedes, make biting a little more difficult for them.”