Insects known as mosquitoes are particularly bothersome in the summer months as they feast on human blood. To avoid becoming a victim of these pests, many people rely on commercial mosquito repellents. However, these products can be dangerous and their safety is often questioned. This summer, try using some natural methods for mosquito control instead of reaching for a spray bottle full of chemicals. Here are 3 tips:
1. Keep Mosquitoes at Bay
Mosquitoes are flying insects that prey on mammals. Different species use different methods of detecting victims, but one or more of the following attract most mosquitoes:
• Carbon dioxide: Many species sense carbon dioxide levels and zoom in on pockets of CO2.
• Lactic acid: People release lactic acid after eating salty foods and certain foods as well as after exercising.
• Moisture: Perspiration and damp skin attract mosquitoes.
• Floral or fruity fragrances: Perfume, cologne, shampoos, scented skin lotions and even laundry detergent may generate odors that attract mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes breed in standing pools of water. You may want to remove the birdbath temporarily or move it away from the deck or patio if mosquitoes are prevalent. Ponds, puddles, and pots filled with stagnant rainwater are also perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, so eliminate as much as you can, such as tipping over pots and buckets to remove water and prevent water accumulation. Getting rid of standing water will help reduce the mosquito population. You can also wear long sleeves and pants when you’re outside to keep them from biting you.
2. Natural Mosquito Repellents
You can certainly avoid the cologne, perfume and body lotions, but you can’t avoid breathing out CO2 or exuding some lactic acid, especially if your idea of outdoor fun involves a rousing game of tennis or golf. Reach for natural mosquito repellents instead.
Many essential oils act as natural mosquito repellents. You can try one or mix a combination of the following. Mix with water and spray on or with a little unscented carrier oil and rub onto exposed skin. You can also dab the oils on a cotton ball or cloth and rub them on the skin. If you’re new to using the oil, do a patch test first, dabbing a bit on the inside crook of the elbow and waiting 24-48 hours to see how your skin reacts.
Essential oils that discourage mosquitoes include:
• Lemon and citrus scents
3. The Citronella Plant
One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes away from the patio, deck or other outdoor area where you relax is to plant citronella plants. Choose either Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus plants (look at the tag for the botanical name). It’s related to lemon grass and grows like a large ornamental grass. Plant it in clumps in full sun to partial shade or in pots on the deck. You can also snip the leaves, dry them, and scatter the dried leaves to ward off mosquitoes. The citronella plant is an annual in nearly all of the United States except for some warm areas in zone 10, where the tropical or semi tropical climate mimics the plant’s native home and provides the warmth it needs to winter over.
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.