Mosquitoes suck, literally. And in case you’re a mosquito magneto, you probably are tired of having itchy, bumpy skin. You can be prone to bites due to a combination of light, heat, scent, and humidity. Different mosquito species — such as the ones which carry Malaria or Zika — prefer sweat and bacteria. Others get attracted to carbon dioxide and specific hand odors. Whichever species of mosquito you encounter, you can protect yourself without the use of a DEET-based mosquito repellent. Before you grab that DEET-based chemical repellent, consider using a natural option instead. This is because DEETs can cause health and environmental problems.
Heavy exposure to DEET is linked to headache, memory loss, muscle and joint pain, weakness, fatigue, tremors and shortness of breath in humans and is especially toxic to children. There’s no need to suffer long term and serious health consequences to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Choose a natural alternative that is proven to be as effective as DEET or in some instances, MORE effective than DEET. If you want to ward off the mosquitoes without relying on chemicals, the following are some more natural mosquito repellent options.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Used since the 1940s, this is one of the more well known natural repellents. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has approved eucalyptus oil as an effective repellent for mosquitoes. It contains high levels of a compound known as citronellal, which gives it its lemony flavor and aroma that bugs find so unpleasant. A recent study revealed that a mixture of 32% lemon eucalyptus oil gave more than 95% protection against mosquitoes for up to 3 hours. You can create your own mixture using one-part lemon eucalyptus oil to 10-parts sunflower oil or witch hazel.
You probably know that lavender is a beautiful purple flowering plant with a calming, soothing scent. But, did you know that it’s a natural mosquito repellent as well? Crushed lavender flowers produce oil and fragrance that smells great. It is commonly used and effective to repel mosquitoes. Lavender also has antiseptic and analgesic qualities. This means that besides preventing mosquito bites, it soothes and calms the skin. You can grow it outside in your garden or flower bed, or indoors near a sunny window to keep the bugs away. Crush the flowers and apply the lavender oil to bite sensitive areas of the body, like your ankles and arms. On the other hand, drop some oil on a clean cloth and then rub it onto the skin.
Your feline friends will be glad to know that herb catnip is a great mosquito deterrent! Actually, in a 2010 study by Iowa State University, researchers discovered that the essential oil found in the catnip is up to 10-times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Another study found that the oil can repel mosquitoes effectively for 2 to 3 hours. Catnip a very easy plant to grow, and if you’ve cats in the house, they’ll surely be happy to have it around. It can be used similarly to lemon eucalyptus oil; crushed and rubbed onto the skin.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
New research a scientific study shows that an extract (the research used an alcohol extract but the essential oil from black pepper would probably work too) of black pepper is highly effective in repelling mosquitoes.
Research cited in The New-England Journal of Medicine has found that repellents from soybean oil are just as effective as mosquito repellents as DEET-containing repellents. Based on research by the University of Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, soybean based products can offer longer lasting protection from mosquitoes compared to citronella-based products, which is a more common ingredient in repellents for mosquitoes. Soy oil is cheap and easy to find, making it an excellent alternative. Plus, it’s an excellent body moisturizer. Besides soybean oil, you can also add a bit of lemongrass oil to your homemade mixture. This combination has been proved to guard against multiple mosquito species.
It's quite easy to make your own natural repellent. These natural products effectively repel mosquitoes, but they will require more frequent reapplication (no less than every 2 hours) and higher concentrations compared to DEET. Owing to the differences between species of mosquitoes, products which contain multiple repellents tend to be more highly effective than those containing only a single ingredient. As you can see, natural mosquito repellents tend to be volatile plant oils.
Do you have a chemical free solution for keeping the mosquitoes away? Feel free to sound off in the comment section below.
Until next time,