They buzz. We swat. They bite. We scratch. All season long. Protecting ourselves from mosquito and insect bites using a healthy mosquito and insect repellent makes our outdoor time more enjoyable.
So what’s the best way to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay? First, there are a ton of repellents with low to moderate levels of DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) that claim to do the trick. But for every insect repellent that’s on the market there’s also a more natural and same say healthier way to an itch-free summer. The problem with most natural techniques and a herbal or alternative based insect repellent is that they don’t work with everyone’s body type.
As I go along, I’ll list some mosquito repellent and general insect repellent tips people have shared with me. When I tested them on myself and my extended family members some worked and some didn’t. As far as I can figure our individual body chemistries is the deciding factor.
According to experts, insect repellents containing DEET are most effective for areas with heavy mosquito or tick infestation. Health Canada says that DEET based repellents should not be used on children under six months of age. Children six months to twelve years should only use DEET when a high risk of complications from insect bites exists. Any product used on children should content 10% of DEET or less. And should be limited to one application per day.
According to The Public Health Agency of Canada a repellent containing 10% DEET wards against bug bites for three hours. Any DEET based products should be applied sparingly and never on your child’s face or hands.
Adults and young people aged 12 and over can use bug spray products containing up to 30% DEET. This gives you six hours of protection. Some insect repellents also contain sunscreen compounds which may be incompatible re: application methods.
Insect repellents should be applied sparingly while sunscreens are best applied liberally and frequently. In the case of a dual insect repellent/sunscreen product use it sparingly on exposed skin or on top of clothing – never under clothing. Heavy applications and saturation are unnecessary and can be harmful.
Select a repellent that meets your needs. For example, if you plan to be outdoors for a short period of time choose a product with a lower concentration of DEET and repeat only if necessary.
Many citronella-based repellents claim to offer the same protection as products containing low concentrations of DEET.
*Consider staying indoors at peak mosquito feeding times at dawn and dusk.
*Avoid using scented soaps, lotions and shampoos.
*Cover you skin as completely as possible when outdoors.
*Studies have shown that mosquitoes are attracted to the colour blue. Conduct your own study wearing blue jeans and a neutral top and see where they bite first.
*Limit the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs by eliminating standing water sources around your home e.g. old tires are one of the most common mosquito breeding sites.
*Regularly empty any standing water from pool covers, saucers under flowerpots, children’s toys, pet bowls and wading pools.
*Clean eaves troughs of debris so water doesn’t accumulate.
*If you use rain barrels make sure they’re covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout.
On the flip side, ornamental ponds with fish are great for getting rid of mosquito larvae. Planting marigolds, lemon geraniums or basil around your yard is also good. The flowers give off a smell mosquitoes don’t like.
Natural Insect Repellents
Speaking of smells mosquitoes detest you may want to try the following ideas. Now I can’t vouch they will work for everyone but I do know several people who swear by these techniques.
For some people it may be as simple as donning a wrist band that emits the citrus scent mosquitoes detest. Citronella plants and their by products oils, candles etc. are traditionally known as one of the best natural ways to repel those nasty bugs.
Taking a 100 mg. of B-1 (thiamine) three times a day helps us produce a body scent that discourages bugs but is undetected by humans.
A surefire way to repel bugs (and humans) is to indulge in plenty of garlic-rich foods or rub garlic directly on our skin. Research indicates eating a clove a day is enough to repel insects without bug spray. Garlic supplements have also been proven effective.
Another foods like bananas have the opposite effect. Something about the banana oil and how your body processes it appeals to mosquitoes.
On the upside, we have synthetic vanilla (the kind used in baking) and Avon’s Skin So Soft that smell nice. Both can be applied directly. Lavender, sage, thyme, cedarwood and eucalyptus essential oils when combined with a carrier oil such as jojoba have been known to work well.
Other quick household insect repellents include vinegar or fabric softener sheets. Splash on a little white vinegar or wipe down your exposed body parts with a dryer sheet just before heading out. Rubbing basil or sage leaves on your skin is another idea worth trying.
If those pesky little mosquitoes still won’t leave you alone, try coating your body with a vapour rub like the one made by Vick.
Mosquito Bite Relief
Check your children and yourself for bites before the scratching starts. Conduct a routine inspection whenever you come indoors.
Moisten a bar of soap and rub on the bite. This will stop the itching and acts as a disinfectant.
Other techniques include applying a bit of toothpaste, rubbing a crushed red clover flower on the bite or applying a paste of baking soda and water.
And if you can catch the bite before it receives it’s first scratch you may want to dab on a little vinegar, lemon juice or the juice of a cut onion or garlic clove to soothe the itch.
So there you have it, a variety of insect repellent and mosquito bite tips to help keep you itch-free all season long.