Get Closer to Nature
Mosquitoes suck, literally. And if you’re a mosquito magneto, you’re probably tired of having itchy, bumpy skin. People are usually prone to bites due to a combination of scent, light, heat, and humidity.
Different species of mosquitoes — such as the ones that carry malaria — prefer bacteria and sweat. Others are attracted to carbon dioxide and certain hand odors.
Whichever species you encounter, you can protect yourself without having to use a DEET-based chemical repellent. Most government agencies recommend DEET products, but they can cause health and environmental problems.
If you want to keep the mosquitoes away without relying on chemicals, here are some more natural repellent options.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Used since the 1940s, lemon eucalyptus oil is one of the more well-known natural repellents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved eucalyptus oil as an effective mosquito repellent. A recent study showed that a mixture of 32 percent lemon eucalyptus oil gave more than 95 percent protection against mosquitoes for three hours.
You can create your own mixture with one part lemon eucalyptus oil to 10 parts sunflower oil or witch hazel.
Note: University of Florida researchers caution against using the mixture on children under three years old.
Crushed lavender flowers produce a fragrance and oil that can repel mosquitoes.
You can grow lavender in your outside garden or in indoor planters. Crush the flowers and apply the oil to bite-sensitive areas of the body, such as your ankles and arms. Alternatively, drop some lavender oil on a clean cloth and rub it onto the skin.
Lavender has analgesic and antiseptic qualities. This means that in addition to preventing mosquito bites, it calms and soothes the skin.
Cinnamon is more than just a great topper to applesauce or oatmeal. According to a study conducted in Taiwan, cinnamon oil can kill off mosquito eggs. It can also act as a repellent against adult mosquitoes, most notably the Asian tiger mosquito.
A concentrated dose of cinnamon oil on your skin can be irritating, so be careful.
To make a diluted 1 percent solution, mix ¼ teaspoon (or 24 drops) of oil for every 4 ounces of water. You can spray the fluid onto your skin or clothing, around your home, and onto upholstery or plants.
When it comes to repelling malarial mosquitoes, thyme oil is one of the best at providing protection. In one study, hairless mice had 5 percent thyme oil applied to the skin, with a 91 percent protection rate.
For a homemade brew, combine four drops of thyme oil to every teaspoon of base oil, such as olive or jojoba oil. For a spray, mix five drops of thyme oil with 2 ounces of water.
Greek Catnip Oil
Nepeta parnassica is a member of the mint family related to catnip that can also ward off mosquitoes. The white and pink flower grows up to 18 inches, but it’s the extract and oil from the bruised leaves that’s the most valuable.
One study found that oil from the plant can repel mosquitoes effectively for two to three hours. Additionally, researchers at Iowa State University found catnip to be 10 times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.
According to the University of Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, soybean-based products like Bite Blocker for Kids (2 percent soybean oil) can provide longer lasting protection from mosquitoes than citronella-based products — a more common ingredient in mosquito repellents.
In addition to just soybean oil, you can also add a little lemongrass oil to your home mixture. The combination has been tested to guard against multiple species of mosquitoes.
Although these remedies come from plants, the oils can be harmful in high concentrations. The trick is diluting the home remedies with either lotion or water as suggested.
To make sure you’re not allergic to any of these potential repellents, do a spot test on a small patch of skin for one or two days before any full-on usage. If you suspect an allergic reaction, stop use, wash the area, and check in with your local poison control center.