We are usually prone to mosquito bites due to a combination of odors, light, heat, and humidity. If you’re a mosquito magnet, you’re probably tired of bumpy, itchy skin. Different species of mosquitoes prefer bacteria and sweat. Others are attracted to carbon dioxide and certain hand odors.
Whichever species you find, you can protect yourself without having to use a chemical repellant. Chemicals can cause health and environmental problems. You can choose to avoid using these products unless you are traveling to places where the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, is high. If you’re doing activities like a hike, a walk in your garden, or a camping trip, natural repellents may be a better option. This can be especially true for children, who are more sensitive.
The 9 Most Effective Natural Mosquito Repellents
1. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Used since the 1940s, lemon eucalyptus oil is one of the best known natural repellents. A recent study showed that a 32% blend of lemon and eucalyptus oil provided more than 95% protection against mosquitoes for three hours.
do it yourself
You can create your own blend with 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil to 10 parts sunflower or witch hazel oil.
Crushed lavender flowers produce a fragrance and oil that can repel mosquitoes. In addition, lavender has analgesic, antifungal and antiseptic qualities. This means that in addition to preventing mosquito bites, it can soothe and calm the skin.
do it yourself
You can grow lavender in an outdoor garden or in indoor pots. Crush the flowers and apply the oil to itch-prone body parts, such as ankles and arms. Also drop some lavender oil on a clean cloth and rub it on your skin.
3. Cinnamon oil
Cinnamon isn’t just a great addition to applesauce or oatmeal. According to a study conducted in Taiwan, cinnamon oil can kill mosquito eggs. It can also act as a repellant against adult mosquitoes, including the Asian tiger mosquito.
do it yourself
For a diluted 1% solution, mix 1/4 teaspoon (or 24 drops) of oil in 20 ml of water. You can spray the liquid on your skin or clothing, around your house, and on upholstery or plants. Be careful when applying cinnamon oil, as a concentrated dose can irritate your skin.
4. Thyme oil
When it comes to repelling mosquitoes, thyme oil is one of the best for providing protection. In an animal study, 5% thyme oil applied to the skin of hairless mice provided 91% protection. You can also throw thyme leaves on a campfire. Research shows that burning thyme leaves provides 85% protection for 60-90 minutes.
do it yourself
For a homemade infusion, combine 4 drops of thyme oil with each teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive or jojoba oil. For a spray, mix 5 drops of thyme oil with 10 ml of water.
5. Catnip Oil
Nepeta parnassica, a member of the mint family related to catnip, can repel mosquitoes. One study found that the plant’s oil can effectively repel mosquitoes for two to three hours. Catnip is 10 times more effective than chemical repellants at repelling mosquitoes.
Lemongrass is a common, natural and effective essential oil that works against mosquitoes. Made from a mixture of herbs, it is used in many mosquito repellents. Outdoors, citronella candles can provide up to 50% more protection. Research shows that the formulation of lemongrass is important to its effectiveness. When formulated correctly, the product is just as effective as chemical repellents and can protect you for up to two hours. If the formula isn’t right, the citronella can quickly evaporate and leave you unprotected.
7. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a popular essential oil that originates from Australia. This oil is known for its antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. But recent studies also suggest that tea tree oil may be an effective insect repellant. Repellents containing tea tree oil are effective against biting mosquitoes, flies and gnats.
Geraniol is a type of alcohol that is used as a fragrance or flavoring. It comes from vegetable oils such as citronella, citronella and rose. As an ingredient in mosquito repellant, it is known to be effective for two to four hours, depending on the species. Keep it away from eyes and try to avoid using it if you have sensitive skin. Geraniol can cause eye and skin irritation.
9. Neem oil
Although neem oil is touted as a natural alternative, results are mixed on its effectiveness. A recent study on the effectiveness of neem oil found that it provided more than 70% protection for three hours. Neem oil is not approved as a topical repellent as it can cause skin irritation.
Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. They are always diluted in a carrier oil like almond oil. The recipe is usually 3-5 drops of essential oil to 1 part carrier oil.
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the active ingredients in essential oils. Before using any new product, test a small area of your skin and wait an hour or two to make sure there are no hives or burning sensations.
Treat mosquito bites
Even with mosquito repellant, you can get painful and itchy mosquito bites. To treat mosquito bites at home, you can try rubbing apple cider vinegar on the bite site. Putting a slice of raw onion or freshly cut garlic on the bite can also soothe and prevent infection. If you develop an infection or allergic reaction due to a large number of mosquito bites, make a note of your symptoms and contact your doctor. A high temperature, pus or bleeding at the sting site, or scabs that won’t go away can be signs of a problem.
Cheng SS, Liu JY, Tsai KH, Chen WJ. and Chang, ST. (2004). Chemical composition and larvicidal activity against mosquitoes of essential oils from leaves of different origins of Cinnamomum osmophloeum [Abstract]. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 52(14), 4395-4400
Choi, WS, Park, BS, Ku, SK, and Lee, SE (2002). Repellent activities of essential oils and monoterpenes against Culex pipiens pallens. Journal of the American Association for Mosquito Control, 18(4), 348-351
Frances, SP, Rigby, LM, and Chow, WK (March 2014). Comparative laboratory and field evaluation of repellent formulations containing DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus against mosquitoes in Queensland, Australia. Journal of the American Association for Mosquito Control, 30(1), 65-67
Gkinis, G., Michaelakis, A., Koliopoulos, G., Ioannou, E., Tzakou, O., & Roussis, V. (2014). Evaluation of the repellent effects of Nepeta parnassica extract, essential oil and its main metabolite nepetalactone against mosquitoes. Journal of Parasitology Research, 113(3), 1127-1134
Greive, KA, Staton, JA, Miller, PF, Peters, BA, & Oppenheim, VMJ (2010, Feb 16). Development of melaleuca oils as effective natural-based personal insect repellants. Southern Entomology, 49(1), 40-48
Maiia, MF and Moore, SJ (15 Mar 2011). Plant-based insect repellents: a review of development and evidence of their efficacy. Malaria Journal, 10(1), S11
Peterson, CJ and Coates, JR (2011 Dec 13). Catnip essential oil and its nepetalactone isomers as mosquito repellants. ACS Symposium Series, 1090, 59-65
Phasomkusolsil, S. and Soonwera, M. (September 2011). Efficacy of herbal essential oils as an insecticide against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Culex quinquefasciatus (Say), and Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison). Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 42(5), 1083-1092
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