By Katie Downey
It’s summertime, and the mosquitos are out in full force and ready to ruin your fun. It’s easy to reach for the $20 deep woods bug spray, but just as it’s terrible for mosquitos, it’s also bad for anyone who comes in contact with it. The main component of many insect repellants is Deet. If you aren’t using a Deet-based repellent, then you may be using picaridin, a synthetic chemical created in the hopes of mimicking black pepper. Unfortunately, the other Deet alternatives are harder to pronounce and leave just as bad of a taste in your mouth. What about natural alternatives; do they work? It isn’t much fun finding out, so I have composed a list of other options for you and hope they help you as much as they have helped my chemical-sensitive family.
Start at Home
There’s a fair chance the ingredients in the all-natural bug repellents will already be in your home. One thing I know all bloodsuckers hate is garlic. I bet you aren’t too keen on wearing a garlic necklace. Below are a couple of ways to keep the skeeters off of you.
- Mix a Garlic Water Spray Solution – Chop fresh, raw cloves of garlic into tiny pieces and cover with mineral oil; let this sit for 24 hours. After soaking, remove the garlic chunks and mix the oil with water. Strain everything through a cheesecloth and add to a spray bottle. You might smell a bit like you’re warding off vampires, but it does work!
- Is that a Dryer Sheet in Your Pocket – If you are planning on looking at the stars with your kids but do not want to be attacked by mosquitos, try carrying a dryer sheet or two in everyone’s pocket. Dryer sheets are a deterrent for most insects, even wasps. Use Bounce and rub the dryer sheet on your exposed skin to get the maximum from the dryer sheets. Of course, this also comes with the possibility of skin irritation.
As always, use your best judgement with any insect repellent. Consider garlic and Bounce dryer sheets next time you plan an outdoor activity.
You Can Beautify Your Garden with Natural Mosquito Repelling Plants
- Horsemint: Really, any mint species is an insect repellant, but horsemint is proven to work. It also smells nice if you enjoy incense. It is shade-tolerant, drought resistant, and grows fast, so it is a hardy plant that can grow to be 3 feet tall. It can be found in coastal areas and does well in sandy soil.
- Marigolds: What’s not to love? They look pretty, are hardy plants, and are inexpensive and easy to find. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, which is an ingredient in many bug sprays. Marigolds are annual and easy to reseed if needed. They prefer sunlight and fertile soil. Potted marigolds aren’t a bad idea either since you can position them where you need them most.
- Citronella – First, make sure to purchase true varieties, such as Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Citronella is grown like grass. It needs a well-lit, drainable area behind whatever smaller plants you might have in the garden. Citronella can reach 6 feet tall and is not tolerant of frost, so be ready to roll it indoors or start over the next year. Citronella is by far the most popular anti-mosquito plant. It can be found in many alternative bug sprays for children.
Chemical Free and Bite Free
Now, don’t you feel good knowing you are turning to nature to fix a problem instead of chemicals? The great thing about naturally derived mosquito repellants is they are self-sufficient for the most part! No more $20 bottles of Deet bug spray and no more chemical smell. I make my bug spray using citronella, cedarwood, and lemon eucalyptus oils mixed with mineral oil and water. I hope you find yourself free of vampire-like pests and enjoy some outdoor time.