Mosquitoes can be a nuisance when trying to enjoy the outdoors, especially if you're trying to host guests. The faint buzzing reminds us of those pesky pricks we receive when we least expect it. Soon thereafter the itching and swelling begins as our bodies react to the foreign attack. Sometimes deadly, the mosquito bite is more of a nuisance than anything. The itch and swelling can last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. As with health, in order to avoid mosquito bites, we have to exercise prevention as a first step. This includes ridding our environment of many of the things that draw mosquitoes. Furthermore, rather than use some of the more commercial mosquito repellent varieties, which contain deet (a deadly neurotoxin
), we should take advantage of the many safe alternatives that are easily available to us today.
Eliminating the things that attract mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are attracted to several things. If we can reduce or even eliminate some of these things, we can greatly reduce the incidences of mosquito bites.Carbon Dioxide/ Lactic Acid:
When we have been exercising or working vigorously, our bodies give off more carbon dioxide. If we are planning on enjoying mornings or evenings outdoors, we need to ensure that we have ceased physical activity and that we have cooled down to lessen our attraction to mosquitoes. Furthermore, we may also burn candles or other sources of carbon dioxide to deter mosquitoes to those sources rather than to ourselves. When exercising, we release lactic acid, to which mosquitoes are also attracted. As a preventative measure, we can reduce salty or potassium rich foods in our diet, as they contribute to the release of lactic acid.Dark Clothing:
Mosquitoes are highly attracted to dark clothing. Some will locate their hosts from a distance, using this technique. It is advised to wear light clothing when spending the evening outdoors.Fruity/ Flowery Fragrances:
Another thing that attracts mosquitoes are certain scents. Avoid wearing perfumes, body lotions, and sunscreens. We also need to be cognizant of our use of softeners and dryer sheets as they also lure mosquitoes.Moisture:
When perspiring, mosquitoes are drawn not only to the chemicals that are released as a direct result of sweating, but also to the humidity around our body. Furthermore, mosquitoes are also attracted to water, like mud or moist plants, and puddles of water, which helps facilitate the growth of young mosquito larvae.
Repelling mosquitoes naturally
Forget using commercial varieties of mosquito repellent. They not only affect our health, but they also leave a rather unpleasant scent on our skin. Fortunately, we can take advantage of numerous plant-based oils - many of which do not require preparation. Many of these oils will need to be applied several times (every couple of hours) to be effective. Moreover, we will benefit from their pleasant aromas. Always ensure to mix and match the oils so that they deter mosquitoes much more effectively.
Some oils include:
- Citronella Oil
- Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- Castor Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Lemongrass Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Clove Oil
- Geranium Oil
Some things to keep in mind
It is important to understand that there are several things that lower the effectiveness of repellents. When applying natural repellents, always ensure to:
1. Limit the use of sunscreen as this reduces the effectiveness of repellents.
2. Re-apply repellents when exposed to rain, sweating, or have been swimming
3. Re-apply repellents when exposed to wind and high temperatures because they can evaporate repellents.
It is important to ensure that the "natural products" we are using are made with 100% organic ingredients, as many conventional varieties produce products using plants that have been treated with pesticides. Furthermore, "natural" does not always mean safe. Essential oils are to be used sparingly - read the labels before applying. When in doubt, trusting our instincts will guide us in the right direction.
Sources for this article include: