You’re trying your best to enjoy an evening cookout, but a constant swarm of mosquitoes follow you from grill to poolside. The threat? A pierce to your skin, leaving behind an itchy red welt and possibly even a serious illness. Scientists do know that genetics account for a whopping 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. They’ve also identified certain elements of our body chemistry that, when found in excess on the skin’s surface, make mosquitoes swarm closer. Mosquitoes also target people who produce excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid. These substances can trigger mosquitoes’ sense of smell, luring them to land on unsuspecting victims. Also, Larger people tend to give off more carbon dioxide, which is why mosquitoes typically prefer munching on adults to small children. Pregnant women are also at increased risk, as they produce a greater-than-normal amount of exhaled carbon dioxide. Movement and heat also attract mosquitoes. With a long track record – mosquitoes have been around for 170 million years – and more than 175 known species in the U.S., these shrewd summertime pests clearly aren’t going to disappear any time soon. But you can minimize their impact.
Plenty of mosquito repellents line the shelves of drugstores and supermarkets each summer, but they’re not all created equally. The majority of available mosquito repellents derive their effectiveness from chemicals. If you want to avoid chemical-based repellents altogether, a few promising alternatives do exist.
We all know about using bug spray. And citronella candles. But what about other ways to keep those pesky mosquitoes away? As if they weren’t annoying enough before, the threat of the Zika Virus has mad mosquitoes even more dangerous. So here are some tricks for keeping the buggers away.
Plant a garden.
Several plants are known to be mosquito repellents, including lemongrass, lavender, and marigolds.
Lemongrass – has long been used in natural insect repellents which contain citronella oil. Native to Asia, the grass can grow up to six feet tall and is quite an attractive ornamental grass. To help deter mosquitoes with its strong fragrance, plant them along walkways and in locations close to seating areas. Plant citronella grass in large planters which can be moved around, they function as a privacy screen and smells wonderful.
Lavender – is a flowering, fragrant herb that belongs to the mint family Lamiacea. Lavenders are native to the Mediterranean region and southeast regions of India. The oil extracted from the blue-violet flowers can be used as a natural repellent against pesky mosquitoes. The scent of lavender oil also acts as a relaxant and encourages sleep. Mosquitoes and many other insects don’t like the smell of lavender. This trait makes lavender a welcome addition to any garden, especially considering how attractive this plant is when it blooms. Aside from planting lavender around seating areas to deter pests, try making your own natural insect repellent with lavender leaves.
Marigolds – are always found in flower beds and containers during the summer months, but their mosquito-repelling ability hasn’t been widely advertised. Many gardeners use them in the veggie garden to deter other insects, but as a mosquito repellent, marigolds are powerful. It’s not surprising since their distinct smell is unbearable to insects – and even some people. Plant marigolds in containers as you normally would, but then place the containers anywhere in the garden where you want a mosquito-free zone.
Grow your own herbs.
One of the best is something you might want to grow for other, tastier, reasons as well.
Basil – is one of the few herbs that give off a scent without the leaves having to be crushed or physically disturbed. There are many varieties of basil, but the ones with the most mosquito-repelling powers include lemon basil and cinnamon basil. For a quick, natural insect repellent in the garden, take a few basil leaves and rub them on your skin. The oils will deter any nearby mosquito from bugging you while you work. Grow it all around your house, because not only will it keep those nasty flying things away, but you’ll also be able to make some killer pesto!
Make your kitty cat happy.
We all know that cats love catnip, but this perennial also has a quite a reputable history as a medicinal herb. One trait that this plant is less known for is its mosquito-repelling ability. The natural oil within the leaves has been proven to be ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. Plant catnip around your patio and deck, but remember while you’re repelling mosquitoes, you may be attracting a few of your feline neighbors. Bonus: if you’ve got a cat, they’ll get plenty of entertainment from any catnip you plant!
You can easily make an effective mosquito trap with a plastic soda bottle or milk jug and bait made from brown sugar and active dry yeast. You’ll need 1 cup hot water, ¼ cup brown sugar and an envelope active dry yeast.
- Place the brown sugar in the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Add the yeast. (The brown sugar feeds the yeast, which in turn gives off carbon dioxide which mosquitoes are attracted to.)
- Cut the top off the bottle just below the shoulder, where the cone part begins. Take the entire top off. Remove the cap and recycle.
- Pour your bait into the bottom of the trap.
- Turn the top part over and fit it inside the bottom part so it looks like a funnel. Make sure there is enough room so that the funnel bottom does not rest on the bait.
- Carefully cut the two holes in the top part of the bottle just below the top edge. Tape the two pieces together. String your string through both holes and tie the ends together.
- Place the mosquito trap near where you work and play. This will fill up fast, so you may need to clean it out more often.
Make yourself smell delicious.
You can use common vanilla extract as a natural insect repellent. Insects fan be very annoying and even dangerous, so it is best to safeguard your home and skin against their bites. It is very simple to make a concoction with vanilla extract as a main ingredient. This natural substance works well against insects such as mosquitoes, flies, and gnats; however, prior to creating this solution, make sure that you are not allergic to the vanilla. Try to put a drop of vanilla onto your skin to see if it causes any irritation.
- Purchase the Vanilla. It comes in rather small bottles, and the product contains vanilla derived from the vanilla beans. It is crucial that the vanilla you will be using is pure. Some shops sell vanilla that has a number of additions to it such as sugar and alcohol. This will not be suitable to use to make an insect repellent. In fact, it can actually have the opposite effect since the concoction will be rather sticky and may cause insects to be attracted more. So, do make sure that the vanilla you use is pure.
- Place the Vanilla in a Small Container. One tablespoon will suffice.
- Mix in the Water. Mix a tablespoon of water in with the vanilla. Vanilla extract can also work wonders if mixed with other ingredients such as citronella oil, lemongrass oil, and peppermint oil in addition to the water. These are all known to be effective natural insect repellents.
- Apply Some to Your Skin. Once the concoction has been mixed well, just dip some cotton balls into it and apply to your skin. Place the mixture into a small bottle or container so you can reuse it or carry it along when you go out.
- Vanilla extract is usually effective as an insect repellent for about half an hour. So if you are outdoors for a longer period, just apply some more to your skin, especially on exposed areas such as the neck and pulse points. Also consider reapplying more often if you are exposed to very high temperatures which may cause it to evaporate quickly, and in cases of being diluted with perspiration, rain, or other water elements.
Using vanilla extract as an insect repellent can be much cheaper than chemical deterrents, and it can be easily made up in just a few minutes. Additionally, it is always best to use a natural insect repellent rather than the commercial artificial sprays, as long as vanilla does not irritate your skin. Most insect repellents contain a lot of chemicals which can cause several problems if they are used frequently and on a routine basis. Their toxic effects are especially unsuitable for children. Furthermore, vanilla has the advantage of having a pleasant perfume.
Recycle your coffee grounds.
Reusing coffee grounds offers benefits from fertilizing plants to repelling mosquitoes. Coffee grounds have a smoldering effect after you light them that keeps insects at bay. Also, reusing coffee grounds saves money. Some people use coffee grounds in a compost pile to feed worms and keep other insects away, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mosquitoes, like other insects, are repelled by the odor created from the coffee grounds burning.
- Remove the coffee grounds from your coffeemaker and put them in an aluminum foil pie plate. Place them in a cool, dry area until they are completely dry.
- Place the foil plate with the coffee grounds on a level surface, such as a table, outdoors. Make sure no animals or children have access to the area.
- Add a few drops of barbecue lighter fluid to the coffee grounds. Do not saturate the grounds – this makes them burn too quickly.
- Light the fluid with a long match to avoid getting burned. Then, allow the lighter fluid to burn off until the coffee grounds start burning and smoking.
- Smother the fire with a large, damp towel or cloth by placing it over the top of the plate. The coffee grounds should continue to smoke and smolder. The smoke from the coffee grounds repels the mosquitoes.
Raid your spice drawer.
Turmeric powder (locally referred to as Haldi) is the dried and ground rhizome (a root with storing properties that looks very similar to ginger) of the Turmeric plant (Curcuma longa). Turmeric powder is known to be used since over 2,500 years in India where the plant most likely originated from. Nowadays, India is the main supplier of the world-wide Turmeric demand, but the plant is also extensively grown in many countries of Southeast Asia.
Turmeric is widely known as a spice in Indian cooking, but more importantly it is understood to be a powerful medicinal plant. While Eastern medicines have known about and applied the beneficial properties of the Turmeric plant since thousands of years the Western medicine only recently started researching and recommending the use of it.
Newer research has found Turmeric powder, the plant extract and its essential oils to be promising as pest controls for a variety of known agricultural insect pests and even some important fungal threats. Being non-toxic for humans, Turmeric this could pose a new option for organic pest control and replacement of mineral oil based not-sustainable synthetic pesticides. It was found that the application of Turmeric oil brought complete protection against mosquito landing and biting for up to 9 hours!
Or raid your baby’s room.
Find a creamy baby oil in your baby’s room. It doubles as a super effective mosquito repellent. Bonus! It won’t smell horrible.
Source: realtytimes.com, webmd.com, plantcaretoday.com, doityourself.com, canadiangardening.com. ehow.com, hubpages.com
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