Mosquitos can be a real nuisance during the summer months, but there are a number of natural ways to repel them that can actually be more effective than using conventional chemical products like DEET. It is important to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites, as mosquitos are capable of transmitting a number of potentially fatal diseases like dengue fever, malaria, and West Nile virus.
What is DEET?
DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is an oily liquid that is used in many insect repellents to repel biting insects such as mosquitos. It was originally developed by the U.S. Armed Forces in 1946 to protect their troops from insect bites. DEET doesn’t actually kill mosquitos; it simply affects their ability to locate a host. When it is applied to the body, a certain amount of it is absorbed through the skin and this can sometimes lead to skin irritations. In rare cases, DEET has also been known to cause slurred speech, confusion, and even seizures. Many people are worried by these facts and are now turning to more natural methods of deterring these annoying creatures.
Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitos Out of Your Yard
It’s nice to be able to make the most of the long summer evenings by spending as much time as possible outdoors. Mosquitos can obviously spoil this enjoyment, as the prospect of having to spray yourself with insect repellent every time you go outdoors can be off-putting. There are, however, a number of things you can do to make your time outside more comfortable and enjoyable:
- Use mosquito coils – Mosquito coils burn citronella oil that masks the CO2 exhaled by humans and other living creatures. Mosquitos can actually detect CO2 in human breath from 50 feet away.
- Set up some bug lights – Mosquitos and other flying insects are attracted by light. Yellow light, however, is invisible to insects, so if you use yellow light bulbs outside you will attract fewer bugs.
- Use a variety of natural oils as repellents - Lavender oil, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil are just some of the essential oils that can be made up into sprays or lotions to deter mosquitos.
- Choose plants that deter mosquitos – There are a number of plants that are great for repelling mosquitos. Make use of these plants by planting them in the ground or in pots around your patio. Choose things like mint, catnip, pennyroyal, marigold, lemongrass, and basil. Use fresh garlic while cooking, and throw some rosemary and sage on the hot coals while barbecuing.
- Keep your pond free of insects - If you have a pond in your garden, consider getting some fish that will help to control mosquitos in the water. Minnows, bluegills, and green sunfish are all perfect choices.
- Make natural mosquito plug-ins – Cut a piece of orange peel to fit inside your mosquito plug-in device and enjoy the pleasant aroma. This will repel mosquitos without you having to breathe in any unwanted chemicals.
How to Make Your Own Natural Mosquito Repellents
It is easy to make natural insect repellents of your own that can be applied directly to your skin:
- Half fill a standard spray bottle with water and then top it up with witch hazel.
- Add about half a teaspoon of vegetable glycerine and 30 to 50 drops of essential oils – the more oil you use, the stronger the repellent will be. You can choose from essential oils like rosemary, tea tree, peppermint, clove, eucalyptus, lavender, and cinnamon, or you can use a combination of several different oils.
- Mix the solution well and then store it in the fridge until you need to use it.
* You can also use dried herbs to make insect repellents by adding 3 to 4 tablespoons of your chosen herb to a cup of boiling water. You will then need to cover the mixture and allow it to cool. Once the mixture has cooled down, strain it and make it up into a repellent spray using the above method.
Other Precautions You May Need to Take
You may need to take a few additional precautions to gain maximum protection against mosquito bites:
1. Think carefully about your clothing - Mosquitos are attracted to dark colors, so try to wear light-colored clothing as much as possible.
2. Cover up in woodland and forest areas – These areas are more likely to harbor mosquitos, so it is advisable to wear long-sleeved tops, long pants, and socks when walking in these areas.
3. Remove debris from around the garden – Remove dead leaves, excess grass, and any other debris from your backyard, as mosquitos love to hide in dark areas of foliage.
4. Remove any standing water – Take care with children’s toys and any other vessels that could allow water to collect, as any areas of standing water will make ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos.
5. Avoid wearing perfume - Mosquitos are attracted to strong fragrances, so avoid wearing any scented products when you are outdoors.
Using a number of natural products and taking sensible precautions should help to repel mosquitos as much as possible. Natural mosquito repellents also have a much more pleasant smell than their chemical counterparts, but they will need to be applied more frequently to keep mosquitos away altogether.