News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
With the heat of summer settling over us, these long days are perfect for sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, sipping cool iced tea, and watching the fireflies. The only thing that could ruin such a perfectly good evening would be a sudden and incessant itch on your leg. And your arm. And your foot?
Mosquitoes are unwelcome but inevitable guests in these warmer months. But luckily, there’s plenty you can do to deal with them!
Last week, we talked about the American Mosquito Control Association’s annual movement: National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. Their goal is to educate the public on how to approach mosquito population control without using pesticides. Check out our article to learn their 5-step plan to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area.
But despite your best efforts, sometimes there are too many variables outside your control. After all, you can’t go tramping through your neighbor’s yard to dump all their standing water! And when you visit the park, or spend an afternoon out on the lake? What can you do to get those pesky pests to buzz off?
There are plenty of wearable items you can buy to keep the mosquitoes away. Bracelets, sweatbands, necklaces, stickers, belt clip-ons… the choices are endless. Most of these accessories use citronella oil to ward off flying insects, though you’ll also find eucalyptus and lavender versions. Some may use a proprietary blend of repellants, not all of which are natural – be sure to read the label if you’re worried about any specific synthetic compounds.
However, one of the biggest complaints with wearables is that they are either not strong enough and only ward off mosquitoes around the item itself, or are definitely strong enough to keep bugs away, but the smell is too overpowering to withstand.
This tried-and-true method involves spraying some kind of mosquito repellent directly on your skin. As such, you’ll have a little protection everywhere, rather than a lot of protection in just one spot like with a wearable.
There are an endless number of brands to choose from, many of which offer all-natural, chemical-free options.
Want to make your own bug spray at home? It’s easy! Just add essential oils to some carrier liquid (like water) and spritz.
The best essential oils for repelling mosquitoes are lemongrass, citronella, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, and mint (peppermint or spearmint will work, too). For your carrier liquid, you can use plain old distilled water, or a 1:1 ratio of water and witch hazel, or a 2:1 ratio of water to apple cider vinegar.
In general, for every 4 ounces of carrier liquid, you’ll want around 40-50 total drops of essential oil. For younger children, you may want to make a less concentrated spray with only 20-25 drops per 4 ounces of carrier liquid.
Essential Oil Blend Recipes
If you’re looking to keep mosquitoes away from a certain area, like your porch or the picnic table you’ve reserved at the park, then you might want to check out a wide-range repellent. These include things like candles, torches, incense sticks and nubs, and even cords you can use to lay down a protective perimeter. Most of these items will use citronella as their main repellent, though you can usually find lavender and/or eucalyptus alternatives if you dislike citronella.
A newer option in this category world is the automatic repellent diffuser. These little devices emit an air-born repellent that creates a bubble of protection all around you. The main selling point of these kinds of devices are that they don’t have a strong smell, like citronella does, and they don’t require any flame, which means no smoke and no fire hazard.
Lastly, we have the more lethal way of dealing with mosquitoes. Simpler options, like sticky tape, attract mosquitoes by smell. Once a mosquito lands, it gets stuck, so it can’t bother you anymore. These methods are effective, though some find them cruel, as the mosquito can live quite a while stuck in the trap. They can also be unsightly, and don’t have a wide range of effect, so you often end up with four or five lengths of sticky tape dangling down in the area.
You can also make your own simple traps. To do so, you’ll need something to attract the mosquitoes to the trap, and something to actually trap them. The easiest method is to cut a soda bottle (2-liters work best) in half. Fill the bottom half with warm sugar water and yeast, and then flip the top half upside-down so it creates a funnel into the bottom half. Voila! Mosquitoes are drawn to the yummy smell of yeast and sugar, go down the funnel, but then can’t climb back out. Instead of sugar and yeast, you can also use a vinegar/dish soap combo.
Then there are the fancy electronic traps. Also called zappers, these little devices emit a soft UV light to attract mosquitoes (and other bugs). As soon as the insect touches the device, they’re immediately electrocuted, which is considered a little more humane. The only unpleasant bit about zappers is that the dead bugs collect into a little tray at the bottom, which inevitably has to be emptied out every so often.
So there you have it! A plethora of options for keeping the mosquitoes at bay this summer. For more information on methods of mosquito control, check out the American Mosquito Control Association’s resource page.