Last summer I researched and wrote about natural ways to repel insects, but at the time my family was living in a tiny apartment in the city. We had no yard, no deck or patio – absolutely no way to relax outside. I tried a homemade mosquito repellent over a holiday weekend trip to my parents’ home in the country, and loved it.
At the time, I longed for green space to raise our children and stretch our legs. God answered our many prayers and blessed us with a home on half an acre. It’s definitely more than we ever dreamed would be possible. Now we’re outside everyday, soaking up the sunshine and tending to our vegetable and flower gardens. We also have a deck, and Prince Charming and I are looking forward to quiet, outside, at-home date nights this summer.
Now that I have a lot more room and every reason to enjoy the outdoors this summer, you had better believe that I’ll be trying these homemade remedies. In particular, I’m attempting a lot of preventative measures to ward of mosquitoes:
We’re utilizing an old-fashioned idea of starting a kitchen garden – actually, we’ve planted herbs in containers and are keeping them on our deck. It’s just a couple steps from our kitchen, so we can run outside for fresh herbs when we’re cooking.
Aside from the handiness of our herb garden, we’ve strategically planted herbs that are supposed to ward off mosquitoes: basil, rosemary, and catnip. While we won’t eat the catnip, the plant is supposedly ten times more effective than DEET. Mosquitoes can’t stand nepetalactone, the essential oil found in catnip.
Typically I’m not a huge fan of marigolds, because I prefer perennial plants instead. But the scent of marigolds is supposed to repel mosquitoes, so we’ve lined our deck with cheery yellow marigolds. They’re also supposed to keep rabbits away, so we’re trying them in our veggie garden, too.
- Cut the leaves and stems of catmint and rosemary, then place in a container and cover with a cup of boiling water. Steep for an hour, cool and use the herbal tea as a repellent spray.
- Crush parsley and mix with apple cider vinegar. Rub the mixture on your skin.
- Place a handful of fresh basil leaves into a glass measuring cup. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the basil. Let the leaves steep for two to four hours. Squeeze the basil leaves to get out as much of the liquid as possible. Pour the infused liquid into a spray bottle. Add 1/2 cup of vodka to the squirt bottle. Shake gently to mix the contents and apply this all-natural insect repellent by spraying it on your skin. (While this mixture is safe, especially compared to DEET brands, be sure to keep out of the reach of children.) The great news? Not only does this keep mosquitoes away, but ticks are repelled by basil, too.
Other prevention methods
We’ll also try to:
- Eliminate standing water, including anything in buckets, gutters, kids’ toys, and planter saucers.
- Whack our weeds and keep our grass trimmed.
- Wear light-colored clothing; mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.
- Avoid incandescent lights and candlelight – both attract mosquitoes.
- Try to stay in a breeze or close to a fan.
- Try to be as artificially unscented as possible – mosquitoes are attracted to the scent of perfume, sunscreens and fabric softener.
- And, we may get bat houses. I’m not too keen about the idea of bats flying around my yard, but one bat eats hundreds of mosquitoes each night.
Recently I discovered two safe commercial mosquito repellents that are made with essential oils like lemongrass, citronella, geranium, and peppermint. Mosquito Magic Crystalscan be sprinkled around the yard, dissolved in water for a bug spray, or washed with clothes to provide a clothing repellent. Bug Bamis a repelling wristband for children or adults.
More pests and ideas
If you’d like other suggestions for natural pest deterrents, read an informative feature on Healthy Child Healthy World. Or, read past Accidentally Green posts:
- Mosquitoes here;
- Cockroaches here;
- Spiders here;
- Ants here;
- Fleas here;
- Bees here;
- Slugs here;
- And gnats here.
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