Well summer is here and that means biting mosquitoes. In this article, we share the Top 7 Natural Mosquito Repellent Tips. Mosquitoes come in a variety of sizes and scientists have already identified more than 3,500 species. Some species of mosquitoes carry sickness and disease but not all varieties. Only the female insect bites and feeds on blood. Understanding a little about mosquitoes will help us to keep them at bay when we are outside enjoying the summer activities.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #1
Decrease Carbon Dioxide – mosquitoes and other annoying insects like gnats and ticks locate their meal by sensing carbon dioxide. All mammals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide isn’t only in our breath it’s also on the surface of our skin. The National Park Service regularly collects samples of ticks to determine the varieties that inhabit each park. Often they use traps that contain dry ice as an attractant. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide and it is very cold, -109 ° F. In less than an hour ticks will be marching toward the dry ice, thinking that it is their next meal. How can we decrease our bodily carbon dioxide levels? By decreasing our activity level – the faster and heavier we breathe the more mosquitoes will feast on us. Activities like playing volley ball require you to move around in the same small area and to breathe heavier. Multiply that by the many members of both teams and collectively you become a huge mosquito magnet. Contrast this to someone who is jogging or running. They are breathing heavier but always moving to a new area so that it becomes harder for the mosquitoes to locate the source of the carbon dioxide.
Working out and sweating causes another mosquito attracting chemical to be release onto our bodies, Lactic Acid. In addition, very large or over weight people tend to sweat more quickly and heavily, this unfortunately attracts more mosquitoes. Pregnant women too, are at greater risk for attracting mosquitoes because their bodies will naturally produce greater quantities of carbon dioxide than they would if they were not pregnant.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #2
Mask the Carbon Dioxide on Your Body – ALL insect repellents work by masking carbon dioxide and other attractive scents on our bodies. Even the widely used and toxic DEET works the same way. There are a number of essential oils that have a proven track record in repelling insects, including mosquitoes.
You can use the links on the left to purchase Remnant Remedy 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils to help repel mosquitoes naturally. The links on the right will take you to our available articles with more information about that specific essential oil. Here is the list of the most effective essential oils. The first two on the list are special blends of essential oils available from Remnant Remedy, which is the only brand we recommend and sell. Bug Free is specifically formulated to naturally repel insects. Breathe EZ contains a blend of eucalyptus oils from a variety of different eucalyptus trees.
Use the links BELOW on the left side to order these beneficial essential oils. The links on the right will take you to pages on our website with additional information about the oil or oil blend and ways to use it.
The oils on this list can be used separately but their combined composition is more effective when they compose a synergistic blend, like Remnant Remedy’s Bug Free. This ready-made blend, and the oils listed above, can be used in a number of ways such as:
- Apply it to the back of the neck, ankles and wrists
- Mix it with a combination of carrier ingredients and spray it on exposed skin or clothing
- Make your own insect repellent candles using the blend
- Apply it to a bandana and tie it around your neck
- Apply it to fabric ribbons and tie them around your patio, porch or deck
- Apply it to a pendent diffuser and wear it around your neck
If you would like to make your own synergistic blend of essential oils with a recipe to make your own insect repellent preparations, read our article here. Along with the “how to” information I include special precautions about some of the “homemade insect repellent recipes” that seem to be traveling around the internet, emails and Facebook. You can’t trust everything that’s out there on the information super highway. Many of these recipes don’t give you the proper steps, ratios, or specific ingredient information. Some even suggest purchasing the supplies at discount department and drug stores to save money.
When it comes to essential oils, cheap and low-cost only buy you more chemicals. Even many of the national brands that are available at health food stores or natural sections of upscale supermarkets, though they say “pure and natural,” contain very little natural essential oil. In fact some may only carry the minimum required by law, which is only 3%! Using genuine 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils is the only way to ensure you will not be exposed to synthetic and artificial chemicals and solvents. Yes they do include chemical extenders and solvents in some brands of essential oils, even though they may be labeled other-wise.
Insect Repellent Clothing – They now make outdoor clothing that contains Permethrin. This is an insecticide that is a mildly hazardous chemical that is effective in removing parasitic insects from livestock and their premises. I’m just not sure about the long-term effects of wearing it next to sweating skin on a regular basis.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #3
Change Your Body Chemistry – There is some scientific research to suggest that mosquitoes are more attracted to people who have a certain body chemistry. This hasn’t been clearly defined yet but there seems to be some evidence that people whose bodies produce higher levels of cholesterol tend to be more attractive to mosquitoes. As mentioned above lactic acid produced during sweating and high levels of activity is attractive as well. People who have a body chemistry that is more acidic may also be a more desirable meal than those who have a more alkaline body chemistry.
Back in 1998, in preparation for a teaching trip to Puerto Rico, I began taking one 100 mg tablet of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) each day for a month. I continued to take this vitamin supplement while on the island and was delighted to discover that the mosquitoes seemed to be avoiding me. We spent a fair amount of time outside and the mosquitoes were everywhere. Our rooms were not air-conditioned and the windows had no screens, only louvers that were open continually. After just a few days, people began to notice that when we were outside I wasn’t being bit and everyone else was. At the end of my 20 days In Puerto Rico, I only had a few bites and everyone else was covered in bites.
What lead me to take the Vitamin B1? I had heard somewhere that it helped to keep mosquitoes away. As it turns out there was some research about this very thing in the 1960’s or 1940’s depending on the source that you read. The results were inconclusive but in my trial it worked. The conclusion is that the Vitamin B1 changes the smell of our skin making it unappealing to female mosquitoes. I have heard the same thing said about eating raw garlic. Now, I try to remember to take this supplement when I know that I will be outside for an extended period of time, during mosquito season.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #4
Change the Time of Day – mosquitoes can’t take the hot noon day heat and are most active in the early morning and evening. During the hottest part of the day they seek out cooler places as a refuge. Where do they go? You can find them resting on porch or patio ceilings, under eaves, in trees and shrubs and under patio furniture to name a few.
Don’t plan to prune trees or shrubs when populations of mosquitoes could be their at their highest in those areas. Know that if you need to be outside working in the yard or garden in the morning or evening that you will likely need to wear some type of insect repellent. The same goes for sitting outside or around a camp fire in the evening.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #5
Remove Standing Water – mosquitoes lay their eggs (between 100 to 300 eggs at a time) in still water. Many species hatch out within 2 days and in another day or two they have grown into adults. Here are some water sources that are typical in back yards which could be harboring mosquito eggs:
- buckets or open containers that have accumulated rain water
- open-topped rain collection barrels
- kiddie swimming pools
- bird baths
- clogged rain gutters
- old tires
- plant saucers filled with water
Fountains or water with regular movement make it much harder for the female mosquitoes to lay their eggs. For areas with still water such as ornamental ponds try using a mosquito disk. These contain microbial larvicides such as B. T.Israelensis which gives the insects a stomach flu and interrupts their life cycle. This microbial organism reportedly has no effect on humans or other vertebrates.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #6
Grow Herbs and Plants to Repel Insects – There are several herb plants that can be grown around our homes to help repel insects. All of them are very aromatic and the fragrance that they emit into the air helps to disguise carbon dioxide. The plants are especially fragrant when a breeze is blowing or they are bumped or touched.
Most of the herbs can be grown in large pots or containers and some can be grown in hanging baskets. All of them would make a wonderful permanent addition to planting beds along patios, porches or decks. Planting them in movable large containers provides the benefit of placing them among your seating areas.
For a list of the best herbs to grow to help for natural mosquito repellent properties, read our article here: Grow Plants to Repel Insects.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Tip #7
Use a Scent Trap for wider Coverage – these devices work by using an attractant, such as carbon dioxide to lure the female mosquitoes and then trap and kill them. One type of trap attaches to a bottle of propane and does not use electricity. This makes it very handy to be able to position it in areas where electricity is not readily available like the farthest border of your yard. It also makes it easy to take along on a fishing or camping trip. Many of these scent traps can provide protection for a full acre at a time, with out the use of toxic or hazardous chemicals. Mosquito Magnet is one popular brand.
This list gives you our Top 7 Natural Mosquito Repellent Tips to help you minimize the number of mosquito bites you receive while enjoying the lovely summer weather. Remember the top seven tips:
- Decrease Carbon Dioxide
- Mask the Carbon Dioxide on Your Body
- Change Your Body Chemistry
- Change the Time of Day
- Remove Standing Water
- Grow Herbs and Plants to Repel Insects
- Use a Scent Trap for wider Coverage
A Caution about Outdoor Scent Interrupters
Using patio torches or bucket candles that contain specific essential oils, like citronella can also help. They work the same way as insect repellents, masking the smell of carbon dioxide and other bodily scents that attract female mosquitoes. Just check to make sure that they don’t contain pesticides, insecticides or other toxic chemicals.
Be careful with the scent rings and disks that you burn to make smoke that keeps mosquitoes away. Many contain toxic chemicals such as: phenol, benzene, toluene and xylene as well as 60 other chemicals.
I hope that you find this information helpful and I invite your comments.