Even though it’s only mid-June, mosquitoes have already become quite unbearable at dusk here in Virginia. Like everyone, Recycla hates mosquitoes, but her loathing goes a bit further: Her younger daughter is actually allergic to mosquito bites, which swell into painful welts on her sensitive skin. Rather than consign the child to a life of indoor living, Recycla has researched various options to see how she can keep mosquitoes from biting her daughter — but without resorting to such pesticides as DEET.
Most people don’t give mosquitoes a second thought. They just douse themselves in a spray that has DEET as the active ingredient and go on their merry way. However, studies show that, in the short-term, DEET can cause headaches and, in the long-term, neurological and other health problems. These are not chemicals you want to put on yourself or on your children.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural mosquito repellents available. Look for sprays or lotions that contain plant oils such as geranium, citronella, tea tree, catnip, marigold, lemon balm, lavender, and peppermint. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus or picaridin, which is considered just as effective as DEET, but much safer. Recycla has heard that eating garlic will repel mosquitoes and if you are looking for a stronger variation, you can rub garlic on your skin. Bananas, on the other hand, attracts them.
Beyond spraying yourself, there are a few other things you can do to keep the blood-sucking little monsters at bay:
- Standing water makes perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Empty water from all buckets, kiddie pools, spare tires, or whatever else you might have hanging around your yard.
- Planting herbs in your backyard may help too. Basil and rosemary tend to repel mosquitoes.
- Encourage animals that eat mosquitoes to live in your yard. Install a bat house, hang a birdhouse for purple martins, plant butterfly-friendly flowers and bushes that will also attract dragonflies. If you have frogs living nearby, rejoice, as they love mosquitoes!
Don’t use pesticides or bug-zappers. These indiscriminant killers are likely to kill more beneficial, mosquito-eating animals than mosquitoes.
Stay away from scented shampoos, deodorants and perfumes as these tend to attract pests.
If you follow these guidelines, you should have some relief and hopefully won’t hear the dreaded whine of a mosquito in your ear.