If you think mosquito bites are okay, think again. Mosquitoes are carriers of dangerous diseases such as malaria, encephalitis, dengue fever, and the serious zoonotic infection, West Nile virus.
To stay on top of the situation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using mosquito repellent. However, most repellents contain DEET. It’s present in over 200 different products.
Experts have been sounding the alarm on using DEET-containing products. Pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia of Duke University Medical Center, who has dedicated 30 years of his career studying the side effects of pesticides, discovered that long-term exposure to DEET can damage cell function in your brain.
Some of its reported adverse reactions include memory loss, shortness of breath, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and tremors.
Fortunately, you can still do something about these nasty buggers without resorting to DEET products.
Check out ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent, it’s the most powerful DEET free mosquito repellent available. ThermacCell repels up to 98% of mosquitos and is also effective against black flies, no-see-ums and other flying insects without chemicals or an open flame. Basically butane heats an insect repellent mat and releases allethrin which is a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in pyrethrum flowers.
Listed below are 14 useful strategies that help prevent mosquito bites naturally:
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Widely known for its efficiency as a mosquito repellent. It effectively shields you from mosquitoes by concealing scents that are attractive to them, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
How to use: Make your home mosquito-free with citronella plants. Visit an organic garden near you and look for authentic citronella varieties like Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Be careful, as some garden stores sell citronella-scented plants, which do not have the same mosquito-repelling properties that a true citronella plant offers.
Before going out, take a bath with citronella soap and apply pure citronella oil on your skin afterwards. Citronella patches that stick on clothes are also a convenient way to keep mosquitoes at bay, especially for little kids.
Just like citronella, mosquitoes and other insects find marigold’s overpowering aroma very unappealing. These beautiful blooms are easy to grow; they do well in flower beds, borders, boxes, and pots. Not only do they make wonderful indoor plants but long-lasting cut flowers as well.
How to use: Place marigolds in strategic spots like open windows or doorways to ward off mosquitoes.
Another popular mosquito plant that’s worth adding to your garden. It contains coumarin, a fragrant organic compound that’s in most insect repellents. Ageratums are low-maintenance plants that thrive even in shady areas and do not require rich soil. Caution: skin contact with ageratum may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
Researchers at Iowa State University found that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its distinctive odor, is about 10 times more powerful at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Catnip was also scientifically proven to drive away other bugs like cockroaches.
How to use: Planting a pot of catnip and placing it in mosquito-infested areas around your house is highly recommended. But if you have kitties wandering around in your home, a better option would be to apply crushed catnip leaves or catnip oil on your skin. Some cats are extremely sensitive to catnip and may suffer from hyperactivity and other adverse reactions.
This sweet-smelling oil doubles as a toxic-free bug-buster with the ability to kill mosquito larvae and soothe insect bites, thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
How to use: Apply liberally on your skin as an insect repellent lotion or as a salve on affected areas.
A little known fact: mosquitoes are poor flyers. They have difficulty getting to their target even with a gentle breeze. When you’re entertaining guests, shoo away mosquitoes by turning on your electric fan.
Screen covers – Shield your home from mosquitoes and other insects by installing screen covers on different entry points around your house, like doors and windows.
Vitamin B1 or thiamine has mosquito-repellent properties. To avail of this benefit, take substantial doses from 50 to 100mg every day from April to October. Don’t forget to add B-complex daily during mosquito season to maintain a healthy nutrient balance.
Bats are well-known insatiable consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes. If you think you have a sustainable living space for these insectivores, building a bat house in your backyard may be a good idea. But take note that this approach requires more due diligence and maintenance.
Mosquitoes have poor vision. They rely on strong color contrast to see things. Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothes that cover your arms and legs when staying outdoors.
What Makes You a Mosquito-Magnet?
Based on reports from the CDC, nearly 40,000 Americans have been found infected with the West Nile virus since 1999. Of those, over 17,000 have been seriously ill and more than 1,600 have died.
Interestingly, some may have twice the risk of getting this mosquito-borne illness compared to others, as 20 percent of individuals are especially more delicious for mosquitoes, and therefore, are bitten more frequently.
Find out if you’re a mosquito magnet. Here are some factors that make you an easy target for mosquitoes:
A 2011 French study showed that alcohol actually makes your blood more appetizing to mosquitoes. Researchers discovered that the alcoholic equivalent of 3 cans of beer can lead to 30 percent more mosquito bites, at least for men in a controlled laboratory setting. Surprisingly, neither the increase in ethanol secretion nor temperature seems to be the reason.
The Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that men have higher likelihood of getting attacked by mosquitoes than women. This is mainly because males are relatively larger in size and have a higher temperature and give off more carbon dioxide than females.
Unfortunately, pregnancy makes women more attractive to mosquitoes, given that they let out 21 percent more carbon dioxide and are, on average, about 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than those who aren’t.
Type O carriers
Anything That Holds Stagnant Water
These include unmaintained swimming pools or bird baths, septic tanks, rain barrels, roof gutters, discarded tires, and plants that collect water. If you have any of these at home, start emptying and cleaning them up right away, as they make perfect breeding grounds for mosquito eggs.
The stinkier, the deadlier. A 2013 paper published in PLoS One documented an experiment done by lead researcher and entomologist, Renate Smallegange, who collected smell using a nylon stocking that she wore for about 20 hours. Smallegange and her colleagues exposed the stocking to caged mosquitoes. In the process, they discovered that malaria-infected mosquitoes are about 3 times more likely to be attracted to the smell of human feet.