With all of the focus on world health and the Zika virus related to mosquito bites, you can never be too prepared for mosquito season. No mosquito repellent is certainly not the answer, but you must always use your own judgement for your family’s situation and location when it comes to natural mosquito repellent.
While the Zika has highlighted the need for insect repellent in America, most of us prefer some sort of repellent to itchy welts on our skin. Some of us have children who scratch until they break the skin, adding scabs and bleeding to our Mommy list of concerns.
After our recent rains locally, and a very mild winter, we started our summer swatting the bugs and finding mosquito bites on our skin. I hate the idea of putting chemicals on my family’s skin, and particularly on my children, so for us, it is natural mosquito repellent or bust!
Why should we consider natural mosquito repellent?
There are two main ingredients used in insect repellent: DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and pyrethrins. DEET, considered to be the most effective to protect people from mosquitoes, especially in parts of the world where diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and West Nile virus are present. However, there are risks included with the use of these two chemicals.
The problem is, both of these options do help prevent mosquito bites and in turn, mosquito-born diseases, however, the toxins on our skin can cause some serious symptoms as well.
DEET can cause:
- mild to severe skin rashes, including blistering
- mood changes
Pyrethrins can cause:
- breathing difficulty
- loss of alertness due to oxygen imbalance
- upset stomach
Of course, all this information must be balanced with diseases that can cause death. In some locations around the globe, this may certainly not even be a concern. You can naturally repel mosquitoes, but when life is involved, I strongly suggest using store-bought prevention methods.
Insect repellents that use pyrethrins are considered to be less effective and are created from chrysanthemums. However, again, balance this information with your family’s needs and location.
The best natural mosquito repellents
There is always room for prevention, and using the most nontoxic choices for repelling mosquitoes is the best alternative. There are many natural ways to repel mosquitoes without breaking the bank and reducing your family’s exposure to mosquito diseases.
The least toxic for children is to use several drops of peppermint essential oil on your skin in strategic locations. Placing drops in places where the mosquitoes bite you personally (or your child) helps prevent mosquito bites quite effectively.
Using citronella essential oil on your skin is also a nontoxic way to repel mosquitoes. This has become a commercially-used method, because it is known to be fairly effective repeling mostquitoes.
Make a roll-on insect repellent with your choice of the the following essential oils:
It is generally well-known that many herbs are distilled into essential oils, but sometimes you have herbs on hand before oils. You can heat and distill your herbs into oils for use, or you can simply use fresh herbs to help you repel mosquitoes. You can plant them in pots in your flower beds, burn them, or place a simple floral arrangement out on the table at your picnic or patio party.
Herbs to use as natural mosquito repellents are:
More natural mosquito repellents
Make your own mosquito trap for patio areas and picnic tables. Cut a 2-liter soda bottle about 2/3 from the bottom. Fill the bottom with sugar and yeast in about 2 cups of water. Invert the bottle top into the bottom. Tape the top on the outside to keep it from dropping into the water. Set it out on a table and allow it to entice and trap mosquitoes. I like this idea as a great homeschool project.
For larger, more out of control problems, there are mosquito dunks. They are all-natural and can dramatically reduce the number of mosquitoes in 15 minutes. They are small doughnut-shaped cakes that contain the bacteria, bti, toxic to mosquitoes and their larva. It does not kill anything else. If you have a small area of standing water, this frugal pack of Summit Mosquito Dunks will be enough.
You can make these on your own, or purchase them at Dollar Tree. To make your own citronella candles, melt 1 cup of beeswax with about 20 drops of citronella essential oil, or even use some of the other essential oil choices you have on hand, listed above.
Build a fire
Depending on where you are, building a small open fire in a container on your open patio, or a campfire on a picnic, always drives away the mosquitoes. Fire safety regulations do apply to that one though.;-)
Remove sources of standing water
This may seem obvious, but sometimes, after a lot of rain, standing water occurs. You may need to search out those areas your yard, and use mosquito dunks, or simply water your garden with the water to prevent mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes love heat, water, and mud.
Outside of toxic overload from commercially-created mosquito repellents, there are many natural mosquito repellents you can use to keep your family healthy and safe.
How do you naturally repel mosquitoes?