Mosquitoes are stigmatic, blood-sucking insects known to spread highly dangerous and fatal diseases such as malaria and the West Nile disease. Even when the spread of disease isn't a concern, irritating mosquito bites leave homeowners searching for ways to keep mosquitos at bay. Unfortunately, DEET (diethyl toluamide) -- the most widely used chemical for mosquito control and repellency -- also has potential health risks for humans, leaving homeowners to seek safer alternatives to repel mosquitoes from the home and garden.
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Scented essential oils commonly heated on oil burners for aromatherapy practices help to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects. Citronella oils, the most popular essential oil used to repel mosquitoes, is derived from lemon trees and lemon-scented herbs and used to make citronella candles. Lemon balm oil is another essential oil effective at repelling mosquitoes because it contains citronella. However, if you do not like the smell of lemon, or citronella, try rubbing diluted peppermint, catnip and tea tree oil on your skin to repel mosquitoes and mask your scent so mosquitoes cannot find you.
You can also mask your scent and keep mosquitoes at bay when you are outdoors by burning citronella or other scented candles. To effectively repel mosquitoes with scented candles, you will likely need to place more than one or two candles. Place lit citronella or scented candles around the perimeter of your patio, deck or yard, keeping candles approximately 5 feet apart for optimal mosquito repellency. You may want to place additional candles within the perimeter to further control mosquitoes when hosting outdoor events in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
Herbs and Flower Gardens
Homeowners with an herb or flower garden may be unknowingly repelling mosquitoes from their gardens and keeping the pests out of their homes as well. Gardeners suggest that plants such as garlic, catnip, citronella grass, basil and geraniums help to repel mosquitoes and prevent irritating bites. While the effectiveness of garlic for repelling mosquitoes has yet to be proved, many gardeners continue to rely on this home remedy regardless. However, Art Tucker, co-author of The Big Book of Herbs, vouches that geranium and other herbs and flowers within the garden that contain citronella are effective at repelling mosquitoes. However, these plants rarely work as they sit idly in their garden beds. To repel mostquitos, crush the leaves of these plants and rub the oils onto your skin, or leave a pile of freshly crushed leaves on your picnic table.
Choose oils and scented candles that do not bother your allergies. Do not burn scented candles that cause sneezing, congestion, runny nose and headaches. Before you rub any pure or diluted essential oils on your skin to repel mosquitoes, check for allergic reactions by placing a small drop on your skin for several days to ensure you have no skin allergies to the oil. You may want to perform this self-allergy test before touching any mosquito repelling herbs and flowers, as well.
- Mother Earth News; Outsmarting Mosquitoes; Barbara Pleasant; August 2003
- Iowa State University Extension; Mosquito Repellent Plants; Donald Lewis; May 1993
- University of Kentucky; Mosquitoes - Practical Advice for Homeowners; M. F. Potter, et al.; July 2003
- Apartment Therapy: Household Pest Control - 5 Natural Bug Repellents