Every summer, mosquitoes drive me inside more than anything else. Even if I’ve been having a great time outside all day long, as soon as the mosquitoes start to bite, I know it’s time to head for home. I could easily spray on a synthetic repellent, but I can’t stand wearing something so fumey. Besides – I’d rather not expose myself or my loved ones to DEET, especially since it’s toxic and easily absorbed by the skin.
The great news is there are many natural repellents for mosquitoes. Since all of these are natural – and actually pretty healthy remedies – pick one to try before you head outside again:
You might want to consider planting herb gardens by the doors of your house (container gardening would work well) because many herbs ward off mosquitoes. Basil is one of the herbs that acts as a natural mosquito repellent.
Even if you’re not too keen on the idea of bats flying around your yard, one bat eats hundreds of mosquitoes each night. Consider investing in a bat house to hang from a tree and see if the small addition makes a dent in your mosquito population.
Catnip is an especially handy mosquito deterrent – it’s about 10 times more effective than DEET. Mosquitoes can’t stand nepetalactone, the essential oil found in catnip. By planting catnip around your patio and yard, you’ll keep mosquitoes away – then dry the catnip and entertain your favorite cat.
There’s a reason citronella candles are popular mosquito repellents: mosquitoes hate citronella. Instead of the candles, though, you can try rubbing citronella oil on exposed area (make sure you’re not allergic to the oil, first) or grow your own citronella plants.
One effective natural repellent that deserves to be tried is garlic. Depending on how much you enjoy garlic, you can take a garlic supplement (no-odor varieties are available), eat lots of foods with garlic (I’m thinking of a big loaf of fresh garlic bread along with a spaghetti dinner – including sauce made with basil and garlic). You can even rub a cut clove of garlic over your exposed skin; you should be able to ward off both mosquitoes and Dracula.
If you’re looking for another anti-mosquito plant to try, invest in lemongrass. Simply break off a stalk, peel off the outer leaves and rub the juicy pulp over your exposed skin. (Personally, I think it’s more pleasant smelling than raw garlic.) You’ll also be able to use the lemongrass when you cook.
Marigolds and mums
You don’t have to stick to planting herbs when you’re avoiding mosquitoes. Try planting marigolds. They have a scent that repels most bugs, including pesky skeeters.
While not all insects are repelled by the scent of mums, mosquitoes are. Plant a bunch and reap mosquito-free living.
Grow rosemary in your garden this summer (like all of these plants, it’s another plant perfect for container gardening) to keep the mosquitoes away. You can cook with rosemary, and if you’re looking for a way to repel mosquitoes while you’re grilling, throw a few sprigs on your charcoal. It should do the trick.
Tea tree oil
If you don’t mind the scent, apply tea tree oil to your skin. Mosquitoes will mind the smell and stay away.
Take one vitamin B-1 tablet a day to repel mosquitoes, as well as flies and gnats.
If you’d rather repel the bugs by wearing a spray, here are several recipes to choose from:
- 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.
- Mix ten drops of eucalyptus oil, ten drops of cedarwood oil, five drops of tea tree oil, five drops of geranium oil and one ounce of jojoba oil. Apply to your skin (be sure to test a small area, first). Avoid your eyes, and keep out of the reach of children.
- Crush parsley and mix with apple cider vinegar. Rub the mixture on your skin.
- If you’re feeling confident and experimental, try creating your own combinations out of these naturally repelling oils: castor oil, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, citronella oil, clove oil, geranium oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and rosemary oil.
- This summer I’ve tried a homemade mosquito repellent made from basil, water and vodka … and it keeps the mosquitoes away! I had my doubts, but I tried it deep in the woods for four days. As long as my family was wearing this non-sticky, very lightly scented spray, the mosquitoes stayed away. When we didn’t have it on, we were eaten alive.
Simply place a handful of fresh basil leaves into a glass measuring cup. Pour one-half 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 one-half cup of vodka to the squirt bottle. Shake gently to mix the contents. Apply this all-natural insect repellent by spraying it on your skin. Be sure to spray it where you’d like to repel mosquitoes … they may end up biting on skin that’s not coated with the basil mixture. (While this mixture is safe, especially compared to DEET brands, be sure to keep out of the reach of children.)
Update: I love the basil mosquito repellent and use it every summer! I’ve also tried a dozen other recipes for homemade repellents. Some failed … but seven were huge successes. To try these effective, natural repellents, download my eBook, Repelled: Accidentally Green’s Guide to Natural Mosquito Prevention, for $1.99.
- Eliminate standing water. Check your bird baths, buckets, gutters, kids’ toys, old tires, pet bowls, planter saucers, recycling bins, swimming pool covers, tarps, and wheelbarrows.
- Whack your weeds and keep your 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, if possible.
- Try to be as artificially unscented as possible – mosquitoes are attracted to the scent of perfume, sunscreens and fabric softener.
- They’re attracted to carbon dioxide and you produce more carbon dioxide when you’re hot or when you’re exercising.
- They’re attracted to lactic acid and you release more lactic acid when you exercise.
- They’re attracted to the chemicals in your perspiration.