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Tennessee Mornings: Natural Mosquito Repellents

Posted May 26 2010 5:35am

With all the rain and standing water left in Nashville many of us are preparing for a busier and itchier mosquito season.  In the past, I’ve tried to stick to simple tricks like staying indoors at dusk, the most active time for many mosquitoes, wearing light weight, long-sleeve clothing and avoiding scented lotions.  It’s worked pretty well and we haven’t had to use mosquito repellents very often.

This year, I think we’re going to require a little extra help warding off the mosquitoes, but I’m not comfortable using traditional DEET based repellents.  DEET is a powerful insecticide found in over 400 insect repellents.  It can peel paint and melt plastic.  According to studies, 56% of DEET applied to the skin enters the bloodstream so it’s really not worth the risk even for the occassional use for me.      

This year I’m going the natural route and it’s really not that hard.  The main goal is to cover up the scent of carbon dioxide that our bodies give off.  Mosquitoes are attracted to the smell and use it to find food sources. 

Make your own or try one from the list of natural options below.  Remember, while DEET free repellents do work they also require more frequent application – approximately every 2 hours.  

 Make Your Own:

Essential oils can naturally repel mosquitoes.  Mixing scents is the most effective, but oils can be potent and may cause skin irritation in kids and those with sensitive skin.  Testing the mix on a small area first is a good idea. 

 Try mixing 2 tablespoons of olive oil with no more than 15-25 drops of 2-3 of the following oils.  You can purchase these locally at stores like By The Brooke.

  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Cedar Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Citronella Oil

My Picks for Natural Repellents:

  • Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent
  • Bubble & Bee 100% Organic Insect Repellent
  • California Baby Natural Bug Repellent Bug Spray
  • Aubrey Organics Bug Repellent
  • Badger Balm Anti-Bug Push-U[
  • Kiss My Face Fly Swatter
  • Bite Blocker Herbal Wipes

For maximum protection, mix multiple methods and try a few of the following to limit the mosquito population in your yard and protect against bites without lotions or sprays.

  • Plant marigolds in your yard.  They give off a smell that mosquitoes don’t like.
  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Going outside after a workout or sitting next to a fire or candle could result in more bites because mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide.
  • Avoid floral fragrances including perfumes, lotions and detergents or fabric softeners. 
  • Using multiple methods of protection is the most effective.

Have you tried natural repellents?  Did they work for you?  Please share your reviews.

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