Summer is coming! It’s an exciting time of year filled with swimming, vacations, parks and mosquitoes. Unfortunately, that last one is just as big a part of the sunny season as the fun stuff. Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance that ruin your outdoor experience. They can pose an actual threat to our health. These little pests are capable of spreading disease to your family and pets such as West Nile Virus, heartworms and in other parts of the world, malaria.
They seek out their prey by using dozens of odor receptors on their antennae and mouth. A typical appealing scent combination is carbon dioxide, which is what we exhale, and the lactic acid in our sweat. Since we can’t stop breathing or sweating when we’re hot, we have to take a different approach. I like to refer to it as olfactory warfare, meaning: the use of aromas that that inherently repulse mosquitoes in order to reclaim our yards and walk freely outdoors. It’s natural and effective.
Mark your territory. Burning citronella candles is the most popular way to do this as they are easy to find at any store that carries outdoor/yard products. Citronella is an essential oil obtained from different species of lemon grass and has been proven to repel mosquitoes. It’s not the only essential oil that mosquitoes loathe, though. You can also use candles made from real cinnamon, lemon eucalyptus and castor oils. For more stationary boundaries, grow citronella grass, marigolds, geraniums, sage, basil and rosemary in the yard to keep them away from you and your pets. Place the plants in, near and around all the areas you like to be outside, especially by doors and outside sitting areas. Throw some of the sage and rosemary in the coals of your barbecue while grilling to fend off attackers. It is also vital that you eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. They lay eggs in stagnant water, so dump out any water that might collect in buckets, toys, or other areas around your yard after every rain. Keep pool water circulated, chlorinated and covered when not in use. Don’t give them any reason to infiltrate.
Dodge attacks by becoming as unappetizing as possible. Eating large amounts of garlic does the trick for some because it produces a natural skin secretion in humans that is not appealing to mosquitoes. (This is the only one that might work for vampires, too.) Sweet and floral fragrances attract mosquitoes, so opt for spicy or citrus scents if you can’t be without your perfume. Another common preventative measure is taking vitamin B-1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride 100 mg once a day). This practice doesn’t have any clinical evidence to support it, but some people swear by it, so it might be worth a try if your doc is on board with the idea. And don’t forget your armor. Dress in light colors because mosquitoes are drawn to darker clothing, which absorbs heat. Light clothing reflects it. Wearing long sleeves and pants isn’t a bad idea either. It’s much more difficult for them to pierce through a layer of cloth and skin. If possible, avoid the outdoors at dusk and dawn, which is when the enemy is most active.
Looking for a secret weapon? We’ve got you covered. Mix this solution at home and apply to skin (avoiding the eye area) Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating a lot.
- Mix 10-25 drops (total) of essential oils, it’s fine to mix and match essential oils with 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil or alcohol to dilute the essential oils. Note: Do not apply essential oils directly to the skin. They are very potent and can cause irritation if not mixed with a carrier oil or alcohol.
- For a larger batch mix 1 part essential oil with 10-20 parts carrier oil or alcohol
The essential oils that work well against mosquitoes are:
- cinnamon oil
- lemon eucalyptus oil
- citronella oil
- castor oil
Safe carrier oils and alcohol include:
- olive oil
- sunflower oil
- jojoba oil
- witch hazel
(Keep out of reach of children. Test on a small area of skin for sensitivities)
If you end up getting wounded in action, treat the area by making a paste with baking soda and water or using a hydrocortisone cream can help ease the irritation. Vick’s Vaporub is also great to soothe irritation because of its cooling effect. Also, try not to scratch the bite. Humans are allergic to the mosquito’s saliva and scratching just moves it around your skin. I’m sure you’ve noticed that a tiny circular bite turns in to a swollen amoeba shape, after pawing at it a bit.
You have been given the tools to carry out this mission successfully. I am confident that you will return unharmed. Stand your ground and don’t give up, the mosquitoes sure won’t.
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