On Thursday I spoke with many missionaries from Nicaragua where I will be serving medically for a month. One of the things we talked about was my need for bug spray to help decrease my risk for mosquito borne illnesses like Malaria, Zika, and the like.
Obviously the mosquito repellent that comes to mind first include brands like “Off”, which contain the well-known repellent “DEET”. While I would love to discuss the chemical compounds of DEET and its efficacy and safety (snooze fest)…. that is not what I am going to discuss today (yay!). Instead, I want to look into what alternative bug repellents are out there. One thing of note is that DEET does its mosquito repelling magic by masking your smell so that the mosquitos have a more difficult time finding you… “the more you know”. If you are curious to read more about possible side effects of DEET click HERE to enjoy an article (if you are into that sort of thing).
Anyways… what are some alternative/natural bug spray options one might ask?
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil:
The CDC actually has this listed as one of their alternative bug spray options on their website, which I found was kind of reassuring. WebMD notes that while it has shown to have the same efficacy as DEET containing mosquito products, it often does not last as long. One positive, is that it also can help prevent deer tick bites, which some bug sprays do not!
- Usage: WebMD recommends a 30-75% solution, but often all you can find in the store is 10-30%. There is no known increase in mosquito repelling power with the higher concentrations so you are probably good to go with a 30% solution. Make sure, like with any oil, you wash your hands after applying. They also recommend not applying this on the skin more than twice a day.
Some studies state that Lavender (the scent, plant, oil, etc) can be used as an effective mosquito repellant. Often gardener’s will plant lavender to help prevent bugs and other critters from coming into their garden.
My favorite part about this option is… 1) lavender is one of my favorite scent/herbs, 2) it is relaxing and calming to the skin (and the mind for that matter), and 3) you do not have to use it in the essential oil form!
Other Herbs to Try:
You can prevent mosquito bites by playing with plants! YAY!. Cook/Play/Eat/Use herbs and flowers! The best herbs for mosquito control (besides whats listed above) include: lemon balm, geranium, rosemary, anise, mint, marigold, catnip, wormwood, cedar, cloves.
5 Helpful Anti-Mosquito Tips:
- Avoid peak mosquito times… dusk to dawn. (*of note, some types of mosquitos bite during the day so this might not prevent all of them)
- Sweat less… this can be difficult to do in the hot months of summer, but mosquitos are attracted to sweat
- Do not drink alcohol! Mosquitos are little alcoholics… so if you imbibe, stay inside!
- Wear light clothing. You essentially ‘camouflage’ yourself by blending in more.
- Don’t hang out by standing water. That is the mosquitos breeding ground.
There are plenty more ideas out there that others have come up with including many home recipes! If you have a favorite homemade mosquito repellent leave a comment or message me directly and I will add it to the list! 🙂
My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 4th year Naturopathic medical student at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.