Bloodthirsty mosquitoes spread disease like the West Nile virus and cause major skin irritations, yet the most powerful insect repellents contain the chemical DEET, which may be responsible for insomnia, mood disturbances, epidermal reactions and impaired cognitive function. DEET melts some plastics, so perhaps putting it on your skin is not the best idea.
Yet you don’t have to choose between malaria or toxic chemicals. There are numerous natural bug repellents that work well and don’t melt nail polish – in fact, many of these natural insect sprays have been proven to work better than DEET, even in mosquito-thick regions like South East Asia. Try the following natural mosquito repellents and enjoy a summer season free from those pesky bug bites.
It would make sense that mosquitoes are related to vampires. The urban legends claim that all vampires hate garlic, and that is true for mini-vampires mosquitoes. Just eat lots of garlic, which is good for your health anyway. One clove a day probably won’t make much difference, but increasing your garlic intake substantially when entering mosquito heavy areas may repel the little buggers towards someone sweeter.
Definitely, there is a minor, but substantial drawback - gnarly breath.
2. Light covering clothing
Mosquitoes also have their visual preferences – they are attracted to dark clothing, so go light and save yourself few bites. Note that long-sleeved shirts and long pants will help to protect you from mosquitoes when you're outdoors. Covering your skin is a key approach to repelling mosquitoes.
3. Unscented toiletries
Mosquitoes love flowers and fruit, so if your shampoo smells like a mango wrapped in rose petals, you’re in trouble. Choose unscented products, skip the perfume and watch out for hidden scents in your hair products and laundry soap.
4. Deep relaxation
When you exercise, your body gives off carbon dioxide, lactic acid and moisture, and mosquitoes are attracted to your effort. Avoid exercise in mosquito-prone areas as possible, or just choose indoor activities for your workout.
5. Citronella candles
Made from the oil of citronella grass, the candles are characterized with the strong lemon smell, preserving the area of mosquitoes and other flying pests. Although citronella oil can also be used directly on the skin, the candles work best in combination with other natural repellent methods.
Drawbacks: The candles must be stationary, and the smoke is quite heavy.
6. Lemon eucalyptus oil
Together these natural essential oils combine to wallop the mosquitoes with a one-two punch. Providing natural protection from mosquitoes and other carnivorous bugs, lemon eucalyptus oil lasts longer than any other natural repellent (6 hours) and is tested to be better than DEET by Consumer Reports Magazine and the New England Journal of Medicine. You can easily purchase lemon and eucalyptus oils separately and mix them with your favorite lotion or sunscreen for customized mosquito protection, or purchase a pre-made mixture in a handy spray bottle like Repel.
Drawbacks: oily texture and pungent lemon smell.
7. Geranium, soybean and coconut oil
Found in a product called Bite Blocker, this unique blend of oils repels mosquitoes for about an hour and a half and ranked more effective that products with DEET in a recent study by the USDA. Available as a spray or lotion, this natural product has a sweet tropical scent and stays effective even in the water.
Drawbacks: Hard to find, must reapply often.
8. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has numerous benefits for your skin and hair and is a very powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal agent as well, but it is also perfect to drive mosquitoes away. So if you want to use this remedy you could either rub some tea tree oil on your skin or add a few drops of it to a vaporizer. This way the scent of tea tree oil permeates the air keeping mosquitoes at bay.
This is uncommon use of the common product. Spray your lawn and deck floor with Listerine, and the mosquitoes magically disappear. Don't spray directly on a wood door (like your front door), but spray around the frame.
10. Fabric softener sheets
Rubbed onto the skin, the fabric softener sheets are known to protect you from mosquito bites for the full evening.
Drawback: There are people who might be allergic to rubbing these sheets onto the skin, so, use caution.
11. Parsley with vinegar
Crushed parsley mixed into a bottle of apple cider vinegar is also good for deterring mosquitoes. For best results, apply gentle rubbing of the mixture onto your skin, or soak a handkerchief in it to tie around your neck.
12. Dish of soapy water or glass of beer
If you're having an outdoor meal, you can keep mosquitoes away by placing a dish of water with some dish soap in a discreet place nearby. The mosquitoes will be attracted to the water source, and they'll get trapped in the soap bubbles and drown.
There is also alternative approach, which is quite controversial and may not be well accepted by some readers. Surprisingly, the mosquitoes are attracted to those who drink beer. So, placing cups filled with cheap-o lager around the meeting area would make great bait for the pests.
Drawback: Mosquitoes will still seek you out if you're drinking beer as well.
13. Use lighting that doesn't attract mosquitoes
Place LED lights around doorways, windows and porches. Mosquitoes won't hang around if the light is sourced from LED lights, yellow bug lights or sodium lamps.
14. Keep it breezy
According to entomologists, mosquitoes aren't active when wind gusts exceed 10 miles per hour. Create your own windstorm with a rotating fan, which, set on “high,” should provide enough of a gust to keep bugs away. Plus, fans help dissipate the carbon dioxide you exhale, and reduce body heat, both of which have been found to attract mosquitoes.
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