Mosquitoes are considered pests. They carry various kinds of diseases such as malaria and dengue. Another one is Zika. The Aedes species of mosquitoes is the day-biting mosquito that carries the Zika virus. To help prevent the Zika mosquitoes from biting you, you need to keep them away from your living environment. Aside from eliminating sources of stagnant water, you should apply mosquito repellent. Health is your main goal, so you need to apply natural mosquito repellents on your skin.
What Others Say About Mosquito Repellents
Some people say that natural mosquito repellents are not as effective as the synthetic ones because they do not last as long. People are concerned about their general health. Avoiding the bite of the Zika mosquito is of the highest importance. The Zika virus causes birth defects and it also causes neurological complications in adult patients.
Some natural mosquito repellents smell nice, but they do not ward off mosquitoes for very long, except for those with oil of lemon eucalyptus. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be use on children ages three years and below. Rashes will surely develop on their skin.
What about a Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray?
It is definitely high priority to keep mosquitoes away, if you want to avoid getting infected with the Zika virus. Chemical based mosquito repellents are no good in the battle against mosquitoes. As you know, these repellents cause harm to the health of users.
The most common chemical present in most commercial mosquito repellents is DEET or N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide. It is formulated to keep away mosquitoes. It is used by an estimate of a third of Americans on annual basis. Even if DEET is approved by the US EPA or the US Environmental Protection Agency, its known effects are blistering, soreness, and rashes upon skin contact. DEET is also associated with neurological problems. Based on EPA’s information, more than 18 cases of children with neurological defects and adult deaths have been linked to DEET. According to the researchers at the Duke University Medical Center, DEET causes behavioral changes in rodents such as rats and diffused death of brain cells.
DEET also has a negative impact on water sources and wildlife during use and production. It is also detrimental to aquatic life and birds. This chemical is found in 75% of water sources in the US. This includes the Mississippi River.
Why don’t you try these natural bug sprays at a lower cost? Perhaps one of them can work for you:
1.Essential Oil Repellent
You will need the following:
- Tea Tree
- Fill an eight ounce spray bottle with boiled or distilled water.
- Fill the remaining space with witch hazel.
- Add in half a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin.
- Then put 30 to 50 drops of essential oils, until you achieve your preferred scent. The more drops, the stronger the repellent spray.
2.Herb and Dried Fish Repellent.
You will need:
- Rubbing alcohol or witch hazel
- Distilled water
- The following dried herbs: catnip, peppermint, lavender, citronella, lemongrass, or spearmint.
- As you boil a cup of water, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of dried herbs (any combination as long as you use mint leaves).
- Mix it well and then cover and cool (covering the concoction keeps the oils in.
- Strain the dried herbs.
- Add a cup of rubbing alcohol or witch hazel.
- Store the mixture in a used or new spray bottle.
- Keep the bottle in a cool place (e.g. fridge).
- Use it whenever you need it.
3.Vinegar Based Repellent
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons of dried mint, sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme
- Quart size glass jar that has an airtight lid
- A 32-oz bottle of ACV (apple cider vinegar)
- Get the jar.
- Place the dried herbs and vinegar in it.
- Seal it and store it in an accessible place.
- Shake it well everyday for 2 to 3 weeks.
- After 2 to 3 weeks, strain the herbs and store in tincture or spray bottles.
- Place inside the fridge.
- If you want to use it on your skin, dilute the mixture to half with the use of water.
- Use it whenever you feel like it.
Other Ideas for Natural Mosquito Repellents
- Make use of a plastic-free, non-toxic insect repelling band, effective and safe for children.
- To any of the recipes given, feel free to add vanilla. You can also mix vanilla with water and witch hazel (spray version).
- Grow herbs that naturally repel insects (citronella, lavender, mint, and thyme).
- To repel insects, rub lavender oil or lavender flowers on hot areas of your body such as behind your ears, underarms, and neck).
- You can rub dried or fresh leaves of plants in the mint family (lemongrass, peppermint, catnip, spearmint, pennyroyal, or citronella). Basil is also effective.
*** There are also natural mosquito repellents in the market today. Below are a few of them:
- Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent. This is safe to use on children.
- Herbal Armor. This is an allergy-tested natural insect repellent.
- Yellow Bird Insect Repellent. An all-natural repellent made in the US.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and Picaridin vs. DEET
After standard tests conducted by Consumer Reports, products with 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus and 20% picaridin can keep mosquitoes and ticks at bay for more than seven hours. These are natural repellents that do not use DEET.
Picaridin is a compound which resembles a natural substance called piperine (essential oil extracted from black pepper). Even if picaridin is synthesized in the lab, it is not have the same degree of neurotoxicity as DEET.
The gum eucalyptus tree is the source of oil of lemon eucalyptus. This is p-menthane-3,8-diol or PMD, which is a synthetic version with properties similar to a pesticide. Yet, instead of killing insects, it repels them. Lemon eucalyptus oil is often interchanges with PMD, but remember that oil of lemon eucalyptus is different from the unrefined, pure oil, which is used in fragrance manufacturing. The pure oil of eucalyptus is not registered with the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as a form of mosquito repellent.
Picaridin and lemon eucalyptus oil work by masking the environmental cues that the mosquitoes take advantage of to locate their targets.
Soy-based mosquito repellents are considered far more effective that products with DEET. It offers an hour and thirty minutes of protection against mosquitoes.
Plant-based oils such as peppermint oil, catnip oil, and citronella oil are also effective against mosquitoes. Mosquito repellents with 10% citronella oil can protect you for about twenty minutes. Catnip oil is extracted from Nepeta cataria plant or catnip plant. It offers up to seven hours of protection against mosquitoes.
2-undecanone is a natural mosquito repellent extracted from tomato plants. It can give you four and a half hours of mosquito protection.
Other ingredients that can give natural mosquito protection are:
- Neem oil
- Celery extract
- Clove oil
How You Should Choose Your Mosquito Repellent
Know which kind of mosquito repellent you should purchase based on the following:
- The number of mosquitoes in your area
- The risk of diseases transmitted through mosquitoes in your area
- The length of time you need to be outside.
Tips on How to Use Mosquito Repellent Safely
According to CDC (Center for Disease Control), you should take note of the following when you use insect repellents:
- Apply sunscreen first before you apply the repellent.
- Do not use a product that had both sunscreen and repellent formulations.
- Always follow the product label.
- Do not apply mosquito repellents on irritated skin, wounds, or cuts.
- Never apply mosquito repellent on the hands of children.
- Do not allow children to apply mosquito repellent on their own skin.
Benefits of Natural Mosquito Repellents
Smart consumers and homemakers prefer staying away from both mosquitoes and harmful chemicals. It is a relief that natural mosquito repellents are present in the market already. Below are some of their benefits:
They are not filled with DEET. N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide or DEET is known to be the most common synthetic ingredient in mosquito repellents. It provides protection against ticks, leeches, fleas, and mosquitoes. But latest studies show evidence of its effects on the human central nervous system. Some experts believe that it may become more toxic if it comes in contact with other repellents. Natural mosquito repellents save you from experiencing toxicity.
A number of natural mosquito repellents are more effective. Because of advanced studies and research, many natural mosquito repellents are considered good alternatives for DEET. Soy-based repellents give longer periods of protection. Those that have lemon eucalyptus oil can ward off mosquitoes and ticks better than DEET.
- They are kind on sensitive skin. Natural mosquito repellents do not have harmful and harsh chemicals that irritate skin upon contact.
- They smell nicer. Because of the natural plant-based oils, natural mosquito repellents smell fresher and nicer, as opposed to the unpleasant chemical smells of synthetic repellents such as DEET.
- They give more to the body’s health and well-being. Plant-based repellents also make the users feel good. An example is peppermint oil, which relaxes the muscles, energizes the body, and improves concentration.
Why You Should Stick to Natural Repellents
An estimated 30% of the US population use DEET in eliminating insects annually. Take note that DEET has detrimental side effects. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry reports that eight deaths have been related to the use of DEET from 1961 to 2002. Three of the deaths resulted from DEET ingestion. The other five cases involved skin exposure in children and adults. Psychological effects include auditory hallucinations, severe agitation, and altered mental state.
DEET toxicity in children is manifested by convulsions, lethargy, tremors, involuntary movements, headaches, and seizures. In a study conducted on at least 140 employees of the national Park Service, 25% of DEET’s health effects are:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mucous membrane or skin irritation
- Transient burning or numb lips
Prolonged exposure or use of DEET impairs brain cell function. Other side effects are the following:
- Memory loss
- Muscle fatigue and weakness
- Joint and muscle pain
Permethrin is another detrimental chemical compound in insect repellents. It is part of the pyrethroid family, which are all neurotoxins. Permethrin is also classified as a carcinogenic by the EPA. It can cause problems in the immune system, abnormalities in chromosomes, lung tumors, and liver tumors. Permethrin is also considered toxic to aquatic life, cats, and bees.
More Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes
If you are planning to have a barbecue during the summer, you should make sure that your backyard is mosquito-free. It will eliminate the dengue, chikungunya, and Zika vector mosquitoes. For this purpose, there are products that can help without being exposed to harmful chemicals. A pedestal fan that oscillated at the highest speed, citronella candles, and a diffuser filled with essential oils. Since it is an outdoor event, the fan is the best product that can ward off the mosquitoes. It decreases the mosquito landings by 45 to 65 % for those who sit just next to the fan.
If you don’t have a barbecue, the best way to keep mosquitoes away is to just stay indoors at dawn and at dusk. These are the times of day when they are most active. It is also best to stay away from standing water and shrubby areas.
To help you remember the ways to prevent mosquito bites in your home or workspaces, here are more reminders:
- Use natural mosquito repellents to keep mosquitoes away and maintain your health as well.
- Drain all sources of stagnant water in and around your yard and house. Some examples are birdbaths, pet bowls, garbage, spare tires, and recycling bins.
- Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing, hats, long pants, socks, and long sleeved shirts.
- Construct or purchase a bat house. Bats are voracious eaters of insects. They prefer mosquitoes most of the time.
- Plant marigolds to repel insects. They release a scent that insects do not like.
- Stay dry and cool. Mosquitoes are attracted to sweat and heat.
- Taking Vitamin B1 tablets everyday makes you less desirable to blood sucking mosquitoes.
- Consume garlic regularly.
- Use any of the following natural repellents:
- Catnip oil
- High quality citronella soap or essential oil
- A mixture of olive oil and clear liquid vanilla extract
- A mixture of vanillin, citronella, lemongrass oil, and peppermint oil
Natural repellents are always better in keeping mosquitoes at bay. They are safe to use, more affordable, and kinder to your skin. Try not to join the bandwagon and use DEET all the time. You deserve a worry-free, chemical-free, and mosquito-free environment, so that you and your loved ones can be safe from the Zika virus.