Every spring, I publish an article about natural mosquito remedies. I share tips that can increase the effectiveness of a natural, and less chemical, approach to mosquito defense.
Mosquitoes are not just a nuisance – their bites can result in diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, and West Nile virus (WN).
Mosquitoes belong to the Diptera order, otherwise known as the True Flies. There are over 2,500 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world, and over 200 species are in the United States, with 77 species in Florida alone.
While there are many ways to deter mosquitoes from biting you, some bug sprays are more toxic than others. The following may provide several alternatives to help you repel these persistent pests. Not all of these suggestions may work for you, so I’ve included a number of tips to fit your personal needs.
- Supplement with a vitamin B-1 tablet daily from April through October, and add 100 mg of B-1 to a B-100 Complex during the mosquito season.
- Don’t eat bananas and go outside right away during mosquito season – mosquitoes love bananas! There is something about how your body processes the banana oil that attracts this female sugar-loving insect. However, rubbing the inside of a banana peel on an insect bite can reduce itching and swelling.
- Try using a menthol rub, before and after bites.
- Planting marigolds around your yard works great because the flowers give off a fragrance most bugs do not like. This is a great way to ward off mosquitoes with a strong sense of smell.
- Campers agree that a good mosquito repellant is Avon Skin-So-Soft® bath oil mixed half and half with rubbing alcohol.
- One of the best natural insect repellants we use in Texas is made from the clear liquid vanilla from Mexico. Vanilla is reported to work great for mosquitoes and ticks, and spreading on a little vanilla mixed with olive oil smells great.
- Commercial mosquito dunks will kill mosquito larvae in stagnant water, fountains, and ponds before they become “True Flies.” Dunks are fairly environmentally-friendly; they are safe for pond fish. Each dunk affectively treats up to 100 square feet of surface water for about 30 days, regardless of depth. Dunks can be broken into smaller pieces to treat smaller areas. Unused and dried out dunks retain their potency indefinitely, so you can store the extras for the long summer season. Put them in fountains, ponds, rain gutters, flowerpot trays, and anywhere water may pool.
- Citronella soap is a product that started in the Bahamas and Belize. The soaps are made with olive oil for moisture, and they have a great lather. The Aloe Vera soothes the skin, while the citronella oil repels the mosquitoes. For high intensity protection, you can burn citronella incense, but try to avoid direct exposure. Mosquitoes avoid citronella, and they hate the smoke. It’s not good for you or Fido to inhale, either.
- Citronella essential oil (Java Citronella) is considered to be the highest quality citronella on the market. The best quality is steam-distilled from the grass, giving it a fresh, sweet woody aroma. It blends well with geranium, cedarwood and other citrus oils. Use only 100 percent pure essential oils with no additives, no diluters, and no adulteration.
- Electronic repellents utilize one to two sound frequencies to simulate dragonflies and other male mosquitoes, creating a competitive environment for the blood-sucking female. These devices come with Velcro bands for wearing on your wrist or ankle, or on your pocket or belt. This makes for a versatile, compact unit that you can take anywhere for protection. Some units even have a built-in red flashlight for nighttime use.
Avoid wearing floral and fruity fragrances found in perfumes, body lotions, and detergents.
- Avoid wearing dark clothing; mosquitoes are attracted to darker colors.
- Dawn and dusk are times of peak mosquito activity, so try to avoid outdoor activities during these times. (and bananas)
- Avoid exercising outdoors during peak mosquito times. Exercise creates more lactic acid, and your body will give off carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes are attracted to both of these scents. Sweat also attracts mosquitoes by creating a humid environment around your body
- Don’t allow water to gather in your yard or campground.
- Eat more garlic. Garlic repels mosquitoes and can be found in some mosquito repellents.
- Catnip repels mosquitoes. Keep some in your pocket or rub it on exposed areas. (Your cat will love you.)
- Try rubbing parsley on any exposed extremities, such as your neck, arms, and legs.
Ingredients That Repel Mosquitoes
The following is a list of ingredients which help repel mosquitoes. Because different ingredients repel different types of mosquitoes, a combination of these oils is the most effective in repelling a variety of mosquitoes. Look for these ingredients at your local market or try creating your own as an ointment or spray.
Note: before using any oils, make sure you or your family has no history of allergic reactions to the oils listed. And remember that natural ingredients are more easily absorbed into the skin and are more easily diluted in water (sweat) than harsh chemical repellents, so reapply regularly.
– Citronella Oil
– Castor Oil
– Rosemary Oil
– Lemongrass Oil
– Cedarwood Oil
– Peppermint Oil
– Clove Oil
– Geranium Oil
Other less effective options include oils from:
When all else fails–get a frog!