Homemade Mosquito Repellents
Mosquitoes classify as one of the deadliest pests known to man. Not only does their pesky whining and itchy bites annoy -- they also spread disease to more than 700 million people every year. According to some estimates, of these, as many as one million die.
Mosquito vectored diseases include protozoan diseases (like malaria), filarial diseases (such as dog heartworm) and viruses (such as dengue, encephalitis and yellow fever)
Did You Know?
- Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide as well as the warmth and humidity people give off – so subtle differences in body chemistry between people make some people more prone to getting bitten by mosquitoes than others.
- Herbal repellents have to be applied every now and then to stay effective – DEET repellents stay effective for as long as twelve hours after application.
The most effective chemical mosquito repellents in the market today contain DEET (short for N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). First developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, it has been the most effective prevention measure against mosquitoes so far. In fact, it's the only mosquito repellent the CDC recommends for preventing mosquito-borne diseases.
However, the jury is still out on the safety of using DEET – in fact, it should not be used by children under two and pregnant women.
Safety Tips for Using Deet
- Don’t use a stronger product than you need. If you’re going to be exposed to mosquitoes for an hour, do not use a strong product that provides twelve hour protection.
- If two products give equivalent protection, choose the one with the lower Deet concentration.
- Follow the application instructions on the product. Using more than the specified amount won’t give you extra protection but may increase your risk.
- Don’t apply Deet near eyes or mouth, or on broken skin. If using a spray, don’t spray your face directly or breathe in the spray mist. Spray the product on your hands and then rub it on your face.
- Do not allow young children to spray themselves with repellent.
- Researchers in Winnipeg are cautioning parents against using suntan lotion and bug repellent on their children at the same time. The research team has found people using sunscreen can absorb more than twice as much DEET – a common ingredient in most insect repellents – as they would by using the bug spray alone.
Herbal remedies work, but their effects are short lived. So repeat within an hour, especially is you are sweaty, for best effect.
- Basil-- For a quick insect repellent, just rub some crushed basil leaves on your skin.
- Catnip -- Researchers at Iowa State University found nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
- Feverfew -- To protect against flies, gnats and mosquitoes, and especially bees bathe exposed skin with a double strength standard brew of Feverfew and let dry.
- Garlic-- Crushed garlic is a good addition to any homemade insecticide spray. Garlic cloves, placed in the ground around plants will deter slugs. Garlic is a natural pesticide against mosquito larvae.
- Geranium oil -- Spray house and garden plants with geranium oil diluted in distilled water to discourage larvae from feeding.
- Lavender oil/flowers -- Use lavender sachet bags to protect clothes against moths. Also flies and mosquitoes dislike the fragrance, use the oil in insect sprays, or add the cut flowers to flower vases.
- Lemon ecualyptus oil --Oil of lemon eucalyptus Eucalyptus citriodoraprovides provides protection against mosquito bites, according to the CDC.
- Lemongrass, citronella-- A good mosquito repellent, it is often added to candles and incense sticks.
- Neem oil --Neem oil is a good mosquito repellent, but smells quite strong.
- PennyRoyal Oil Pennyroyal has been used as a natural insect repellent for centuries. A little goes a long way
- Red cedarwood oil Red cedarwood is very good insect repellent, effective against mosquitoes, moths, woodworms, leeches and rats.
- Tea tree oil For quick relief from mosquito or chigger bites, rub tea tree oil on them. Tea tree is generally safe to apply directly to skin, but do an allergy test first.
Make Your Own Herbal Repellent
- 2 1/2 teaspoons total of any combination of the following essential oils: basil, cedarwood, citronella, juniper, lemon, myrrh, palmarosa, pine, rose geranium and/or rosemary (available at health food stores)
1 cup 190-proof grain alcohol (available in liquor stores)
Place ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. To use, rub a small amount on any exposed skin (test first to be sure your skin will not be adversely affected by the repellent) or dab it on clothing. Experiment a little to find which essential oils work best with your body chemistry. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to fine-tune the fragrance.
- Amber colored Listerine sprayed outside in the area where you are sitting, will keep mosquitos away up to two days.
Avoidance -- The Best Policy
Mosquitoes have complex methods of detecting hosts. If we are able to understand why they home in on some individuals, and never bite others, we would be equipped to avoid them better. Till then, here are some simple ways of avoiding being bitten–
- Mosquitoes are attracted by dark clothing and foliage. So, avoid then by steering clear of bushes, woods and parks at times when mosquitoes are active. Also avoid wearing dark clothes.
- Mosquitoes home in on their victims by following the train of carbon dioxide they leave. Distract them by keeping a burning candle, incense or any fire around you.
- Mosquitoes are drawn to the sublte odour of Lactic Acid, released when we eat certain foods (like salty or high-potassium foods). You also release more lactic acid when you have been exercising. By avoiding these activities before mosquito exposure, you can avoid getting bitten.
- Mosquitoes are often attracted to the slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities. So keep them covered with socks or long sleeves if exposed to mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes are attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also because it increases the humidity around your body. That is why when you’re plagued by mosquitoes, a cool shower instantly brings relief.
- Keep your home and garden free from stagnant water, moist plants and uncovered water tanks. Mosquitoes breed in these.
- About Mosquitoes
- Mosquito borne Diseases
- Mosquito Repellents and Their Side Effects
- Mosquito Repellents