Are you one those people that get continuously bitten by those annoying bloodsuckers? Mosquitoes can put a real damper on anything you do outdoors and nothing is worse than being swarmed by them while taking an evening stroll on the beach, or enjoying a family BBQ in the park. That’s why I take certain precautions to ensure that these pests stay away from me!
We all know that bug bites can be uncomfortable and dangerous depending on where you live, but is bug spray dangerous? Some commercial mosquito repellents contain chemicals like DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), and while this chemical is very good at warding off mosquitoes, it can have some negative effects on your health. National Park Service Employees have reported health effects that they have experienced by using DEET. Some symptoms included skin irritations, disorientation, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, muscle pain, and temporary coughing. Even though most of the risks are minor, I think we can all agree that we need to find other alternatives to keeping those pesky bugs from bothering us.
1. Stay clean. Our skin produces over 300 different odours and some smell like dinner to mosquitoes. If your body temperature rises and you start to sweat then you are inviting mosquitos to head right for you. They are attracted to heat, sweat, and skin chemicals like lactic acid, cholesterol, and certain bacteria. They even love the skin lotions and perfumes you apply to make yourself smell good. So during bug season stay as dry, clean, and perfume free as possible.
2. Eat garlic. Even though there have been no clinical studies to prove that garlic wards off mosquitoes, it is believed that the sulphur compounds present in the skin may help keep mosquitoes away. In a field study conducted in India, a solution of garlic oil, beeswax and petroleum jelly did prove to be effective in keeping mosquitoes away for 8 hours as long as it was applied to the skin. I eat raw garlic daily and this may be one of the reasons why mosquitos don’t bother me.
3. Take brewers yeast tablets. Doctors have been recommending that you take brewers yeast tablets for years. It is high in thiamine (B1), which is excreted through your pores. This odour is not detectable for humans but it makes it unattractive to mosquitoes. Some studies suggest this doesn’t work, but in my own experience and my client’s experiences, I believe it does. I’ve even heard of people crushing B-complex vitamins, mixing in with water and applying it to the skin. You might look like you have jaundice, but if you are desperate then you do what you have to do!
4. Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet such as whole grain, fruit and vegetables, instead of a highly processed diet containing sugary foods may actually help keep mosquitoes away. According to Alderness Wilderness College the processed food diet make your odour and blood chemistry more desirable to mosquitoes. Again, no clinical studies have been tested on this theory but it seems to be working in my favor.
5. Use a natural bug spray. Homemade bug sprays are easy to make, inexpensive, and contain safe ingredients for you and your family. Lemon eucalyptus has been shown to be just as effective as DEET, so if you are traveling somewhere where you know there will be lots of mosquitoes then this might be a good essential oil for you to bring, even though many essential oils have been proven to keep mosquitoes away.
Other helpful guidelines:
• Keep away from still water that may be breeding mosquitoes.
• Wear light coloured clothes. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours.
• Limit your consumption of alcohol. Research shows that people who drank beer had more bites than those that didn’t.
• Pregnant women should not travel to any location wear Zika may exist.
• Women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a health care practitioner before using any essential oils.
• Treat bug bites with honey, aloe vera or chopped basil leaves to relieve itching.
NATURAL BUG SPRAY REPELLENT
½ cup alcohol free witch hazel (kills bacteria and nourishes the skin)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or another oil of your choosing (carrier oil)
½ tablespoon vodka (preservative)
20 drops citronella essential oil
20 drops lemon eucalyptus oil
15 drops lavender angustifolia oil
15 drops peppermint
4 oz bottle
1. Place vodka in a glass 4 oz bottle and add essential oils.
2. Pour in witch hazel and the carrier oil. Shake to combine.
3. Shake well before each spray and reapply to skin and clothes every couple of hours or as needed.
Essential oils that repel mosquitos:
Lemongrass, cloves, eucalyptus, basil, lemon, rose geranium, catnip, thyme, lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon leaf, neem.
Essential oils that repel ticks:
Lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, sage
Essential oils that repel flies:
Rosemary, peppermint, lavender, patchouli
Carrier oils: sweet almond oil (most hypoallergenic), jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. You can also use vegetable glycerine as a carrier as well. Water and oil don’t mix that’s why it’s important to mix one of these oils to help disperse the essential oils.
What about young children?
You might want to consider making them their own bug spray. Even though these essential oils are safe for young children, it is best to spray on their clothes until they are older.
Safe essential oils for 3mo-2yrs: citronella, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, geranium, patchouli
SPICE BUG REPELLENT
If you’d like to make bug spray without essential oils then there is a spice you can use right from your kitchen cabinet.
1 tablespoon Cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
4oz Vodka or grain alcohol
1. Place ingredients in a glass bottle with a lid and store in a dark place.
2. Shake the mixture twice a day for four days.
3. After four days place the mixture in a spray bottle.
4. Spay onto skin or clothes as needed.
Warning: You may smell like Christmas in July.
BUG BALM REPELLENT
Bug balm repellents are perfect for an evening out when you don’t want to carry around a bottle of bug spray. All you have to do is heat the ingredients and place in a small container of your choosing. I love the small round and rectangle tins.
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon shea butter
½ tablespoon beeswax, grated
1/8 teaspoon vitamin E (optional)
12 drops lemon eucalyptus (or a combination of essential oils that you love).
1. Place a small pot of water on the stove and heat to almost boiling then remove from heat source.
2. Place a heat safe glass bowl inside the pot.
3. Place coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and vitamin E oil in the bowl and stir until melted.
4. Drop essential oils of your choosing in the bowl.
5. Mix well. Reheat if coconut oil starts to solidify.
6. Pour into small containers.
Have you made bug repellents before? I would love to hear what your favourite combinations of essential oils are to repel mosquitos. Please share them below.