Summer fun comes with refreshing moments of swimming in the pool, tanning safely under the sun and sitting out by the glowing embers of a campfire, toasting marshmallows, as you enjoy the late night stars.
Then along comes the buzzing, the high-pitched whining of the female mosquito.
She is out to get you, and will draw blood if you are not prepared.
Swatting is a useful strategy if you have nothing but your hands to defend yourself. However, if you wish to sit back and relax outdoors, you are going to have to invest in some natural mosquito repellents to do the job for you.
It will take some trial and error to find out what works best for you, because as it turns out, those nipping females are choosy when it comes to whom they love to bite.
Who do mosquitoes bite the most?
Even across different species of mosquitoes, there is no absolute knowing of what they are after. Some prefer a combination of bacteria and sweat, while others are more attracted to body odors and carbon dioxide.
Studies have shown that people with Type O blood attract the most mosquitoes, up to twice as much as those with Type A. But it goes much deeper than that – genetics also come into play.
Our metabolic rate, the amount of CO2 our bodies release as they burn energy, is perhaps the greatest determining factor when it comes to being a mosquito magnet.
Exercising increases our body temperature, making us more desirable, while drinking beer is just calling the mosquitoes over to join us for a drink.
Pregnant women are also more likely to be bit as they exhale 21% more CO2 than non-pregnant women. All the more reason to opt for natural mosquito repellents!
Natural and effective ways to repel mosquitoes
Mosquito repellents from the store are chemical concoctions made with questionable ingredients containing:
- diethyl phthalate
- diethyl carbate
- N, N-Diethyl-3-Methylbenzamide (DEET)
While chemicals may prevent pesky mosquitoes and other bugs from biting, you may end up paying a higher price in regards to your health.
If they are not safe for nursing mothers or children, they are not safe enough for me.
In the pursuit of a simple, natural life, you’ll likely be on a similar path of avoiding chemicals in the home, seeking out natural alternatives at every step possible.
Here are some natural alternatives for repelling mosquitoes:
1. Citronella candles
Citronella candles are known to repel mosquitoes, and while some approve wholeheartedly about their effectiveness, others are leery.
These candles are readily available, though we suggest you to go for quality, not quantity and opt for a candle made with soy wax and reputable essential oils.
This Geelywax 14oz Citronella Candle made with soy wax is a popular option.
Alternatively, if you are the crafty type, you can make your own citronella candles at home to ensure you are using quality soy wax and 100% pure citronella essential oil.
Here’s a great tutorial with video and step-by-step instructions.
2. Electric fan
Have you ever noticed that when it is windy, the mosquitoes aren’t biting?
There are two sensible reasons for that. First, the moving air dissipates the carbon dioxide, blowing it further away. Secondly, mosquitoes have a harder time flying in the breeze.
Inside the home, or out on the deck, a simple fan works wonders. It cools you down and repels mosquitoes at the same time!
3. Mosquito repelling essential oils
Whether you are adding essential oils to your own natural mosquito repellent spray, a luminary, or a mosquito repelling lotion, you’ll want to pick the right ones for the job.
Choose from 10 essential oils:
Once you discover a scent combination that smells amazing and works well to repel mosquitoes, stick with it and enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy at the same time.
4. Bug repellent luminaries
A beautiful way to light up the evening and keep the mosquito numbers in check is to make your own non-toxic mosquito repellent luminaries.
They are simple to make and can be replaced throughout the summer months as needed.
5. Natural homemade mosquito repellents
Using many of the same herbs that you would want to plant around your garden to repel mosquitoes (mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, and thyme) you can make a homemade mosquito repellent that actually works.
It is as simple as adding a generous amount of dried herbs to boiling water, and letting them steep under a lid until they come to room temperature.
Mix the cooled herbal concoction with 8 oz. of witch hazel and put in a glass spray bottle. Keep your natural mosquito repellent handy for when you are headed outside.
If a DIY project is not for you, then this is a highly rated natural mosquito repellent spray from Sky Organics.
6. Wear light colors
White and light colored clothing is a great choice for summer, not only does it help to deter mosquitoes (who prefer blue and black) it also reflects sunlight, which allows you to stay cooler.
It also helps to wear lighter, looser fabrics. The point being to cover as much skin as possible to prevent bites.
7. Garlic-infused mosquito repellent
You can always eat a lot of garlic to stay healthy, and repel mosquitoes at the same time, from the outside in, but you can also make a garlic-infused mosquito repellent to use around your yard, so everyone can benefit from fewer bites.
It takes nothing more than water, biodegradable dish soap and 4 cloves of crushed garlic to make a spray that keeps mosquitoes away.
It is the sulfur in the garlic that bugs despise, so feel free to crush or mince some cloves of fresh garlic and sprinkle it around the yard. You can also rub garlic on your skin, though it will be more than just mosquitoes avoiding you.
8. Mosquito netting
If you plan to camp and sleep outside, mosquito netting is absolutely essential to prevent waking up with hundreds of bites.
It is useful to have a covered area for children and babies outside as well, to have a place of refuge surrounded by mosquito repellent plants.
9. Mosquito repelling plants in your backyard garden
Outside of spraying yourself, or covering up, every time you step outside, the use of fragrant plants to repel mosquitoes in your yard, is a beautiful way to keep mosquito numbers down.
This is most effective if you think about it before the mosquito season starts.
You can plant early in spring, or late in fall, when the faintest memory of an itching mosquito bite is barely on your mind.
Come summer time, the rewards of mosquito repelling aromatic plants are definitely worth the effort and small space they take up. Even if your garden is small, many plants can be potted and arranged in a beautiful way, so that sitting out on the deck can be a pleasurable experience.
Remember, what smells good to us, can smell awful to something else:
- Lemon balm
- Catnip – caution, this one attracts cats!
Repelling mosquitoes – what doesn’t work
As much as we would like to have a bite-free summer, we also love to be outside, barefoot as much as possible.
This being the case, bites happen.
Early in the morning while working out in the garden, late in the evening while relaxing on the porch with a good book in hand.
Enjoy the summer for all it is worth, preventing hundreds of mosquito bites by using a combination of methods above – the more the better – and avoid the tried, tested and failed ones below.
1. Remove standing water
Not to say that this method doesn’t work to remove some mosquitoes, but the chances of greatly diminishing mosquito infestations by removing their desired place to lay eggs, is beyond difficult.
A thimbleful, or less, of water is all mosquitoes need to safely lay and store their eggs.
And water is everywhere!
If you have animals (chickens, ducks, dogs, or cats) they will have a water bowl. If it rains, some plants will hold the raindrops for quite some time, just examine a cabbage.
There is no stopping water from being where it wants to gather. Mosquitoes can even stick their eggs to a damp surface, such as the inside of a basin or bucket. You’ll find them in shade and partial sun.
Absence of water will not get rid of mosquitoes.
2. Portable mosquito traps
The sound of a mosquito trap zapping surely means death to the buzzing insects.
But, do portable mosquito traps actually work? Or rather, are they effective enough at keeping the bites at bay?
A mosquito trap is, after all, a gadget. And if you need to see it to believe it, they do in fact kill mosquitoes. With a combination of illuminating light and the emittance of CO2, they are supposed to attract mosquitoes and clear your outdoor space from bugs in general.
However, it proves hard to fool a mosquito. They still prefer the warmth and C02 of a human body, over artificial light.
3. Smartphone apps
Ultrasonic repellents sound like a thing of the future, yet they are available here and now, just waiting for you to download to your smartphone.
In theory, emitting different frequencies to repel mosquitoes is supposed to work, and scientists have been trying to make it a success for decades.
It is frequently the sound of beating dragonfly wings, or the noise of a male mosquito calling out for a mate that is being broadcast by an app or device. Apps defy the logic of nature and do not take into consideration what mosquitoes are really looking for – you!
4. Mosquito repellent wristbands
The lure to using bracelets to repel mosquitoes is that they are free from DEET, they contain natural ingredients such as essential oils and they are easy to slide over your wrist and wear – made for any size and age.
Reportedly they last for 200 hours or more, they are waterproof and colorful. What could be better?
Well, studies show their ineffectiveness. One study reported that the bands were effective, but only for a few centimeters either side of the bracelet.
They may work close to the location where you are wearing them, say on your wrist, but watch out for bites on your shoulders, knees and ankles.
Not to mention that they are made of plastic. If you are attempting to go plastic-free in your home and garden, you’ll want to skip this supposed mosquito repellent method.
Treating mosquito bites
Preventing mosquito bites is always the first action to take in reducing the amount of painful, itchy bites. However, no method is 100% effective.
Even with an effective natural repellent, screens, and blowing fans, mosquitoes will find ways into your home – and they will find a place to bite.
In that case, quick, natural treatments come to the rescue:
Apple cider vinegar – applied straight to the skin with a cotton pad, it will help to reduce stinging and burning. ACV also acts as a natural disinfectant, in case you’ve already itched your bite!
Slice of garlic or raw onion – the juices from an onion can reduce swelling and itching when applied directly to the bite, it will repel mosquitoes too.
Plantain – this common weed comes in handy for multiple ailments, including mosquito bites, bee stings, poison ivy rash, cuts, scrapes and more. Have a poultice handy, or chew a leaf for fast poultice relief on the go.
Clay – this is our go-to solution for bites of all kinds, a dab of moistened clay soothes the pain and takes inflammation away, almost instantly.
Beyond the basics of repelling mosquitoes, you can also encourage birds and bats to inhabit your neighborhood, providing them with a safe place to live and plenty of mosquitoes to eat.
Nature is all about balance, discover that and you (and the mosquitoes) can live in harmony.