Looking for chemical-free methods to repel mosquitoes
Summer means taking a little time off, and sometimes (if I'm lucky), a tropical vacation! I'm very excited to be taking a trip to Mexico at the end of the month with my family, but the only downside to paradise is the prevalence of mosquitoes. Does anyone have any tips for natural, chemical-free ways to prevent mosquito bites? I've heard rumors that both garlic and Vitamin B-1 emit a an insect-detected smell that makes people unappealing to mosquitoes, but I'm not sure how much truth there is to that. Any insight?
DEET has been shown to be the most effective mosquito repellent. DEET is toxic however so I understand why you’d like to try less harsh solutions. Wear light colored clothing, mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothes, and keep your body covered as much as possible (including wearing a hat). If you’re going camping or hiking through mosquito infested areas, try a garlic powder and water paste. Apply behind knees, on shoes and ankles and a dab or two on your cheeks or somewhere on your face and neck. Some say vanilla will work. Apply it full strength, or dilute it with water and spray it on. Play around with Vanilla to see what gives you best results. One other possibility: some mixture of essential oils such as Citronella oil, Lavender oil, Catnip oil, Eucalyptus oil, Pennyroyal oil, Tansy oil, Basil oil, Thyme oil, Cedar oil, Tea Tree oil, Peppermint oil, or Lemongrass oil. Mix your choice of some of the essential oils with rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, or distilled water and use as a spray or rub it on with a cloth (shake before each use). You can also add a few drops in baby oil or olive oil then rub it on or apply drops along a strip of cotton and tie it around your wrist.
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I went on a trip to the Mexican rain forests near Puerto Vallarta and brought cloves of garlic with me to ward off mosquitoes. I rubbed the raw garlic all over my skin and it was effective for repelling pests. However it also repelled my friends.
Luckily there are a few alternatives. You can use certain plant-based oils that can be found at your local healthfood stores (or online) to create your own repellent. Try any of these or any combination of these oils: basil, catnip, cedarwood, citronella, juniper, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, myrrh, palmarosa, pine, rose geranium, or rosemary. Place 2T of the natural oil(s) along with a cup of water in a canister with a spray pump.
First spray the oil on a small portion of your skin to make sure you're not allergic.
Don't want to make your own? Try California Baby's Bug Repellent Spray, Bite Blocker, Repel Plant-Based Insect Repellent, or the many other varieties available.
One thing to remember is that these concoctions lose their potency quickly so after a week has passed, you may want to mix up a new batch.
In taking a short (two-week) trip to Thailand, I took a regimen of garlic pills and pro-biotic pills (with live beneficial microorganisms that aid digestion) every day for two weeks prior to my departure. While in Thailand, I also used a DEET-free insect repellent lotion and hypo-allergic sunscreen (not the coconut oil or other scented options). Of the group of people on our trek through the jungle hills of Chiang Mai, I was the only one who didn't get eaten by mosquitoes (nor did I have problems with diarrhea like other tourists).
When I lived in Indonesia for 10 months, I didn't take the garlic pills beforehand, but did eat lots of fresh garlic in daily meals there. We also used a mosquito net around every bed, kept fly-swatters handy, and learned to identify dengue-carrying mosquitoes. We wore lightweight long-sleeved clothing regularly, and changed from shorts to pants as soon as the day cooled and the sun started to set. We also used DEET-free insect repellent, and put large citronella candles (those big ones typically used for camping in the U.S.) on our tables (we had an open-air villa so couldn't close screens/windows and doors to prevent insects and reptiles from visiting us). For the most part, we didn't have many bites (occasionally we were bitten, but nothing severe or even burdensome).