Not everyone can tolerate the types of toxic chemicals that are used to ward off mosquitoes. Some people are allergic to over-the-counter repellents and these products contain so many chemicals that they certain aren’t recommended for pregnant women! So what is a person to do to ward off these obnoxious, infectious winged creatures the next time damp, hot weather sets in?
If you don’t want to stay inside all summer you might want to consider planting a mosquito repellent garden. Herbs that are known for disgusting the tiny whizzing vampires are citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, lavender, basil, thyme, penny royal and garlic. Planting a selection of these herbs might help keep mosquitoes at bay as well as keep it smelling like the Garden of Eden!
There are also a few flowers and trees that also quality as mosquito repellent plants. These include pine and cedar trees and geraniums, daisies and chrysanthemums. In fact a very powerful commercial insecticide called pyrethrum is made from a member of the daisy family called Chrysanthemum cineranifolium. pyrethroid. It does not repel insects but works as a contact insecticide, causing nervous system toxicity that leads to the death of the insect. The chemical is effective against mosquitoes, flies and ticks and just one spray can down them in mid-flight. You can find this type of mosquito repellent in health food stores and plant supply stores.
There are also several essential oils that are made from the above plants, which could be mixes with carrier oil such as almond and jojoba and rubbed into the skin to ward off mosquitoes. Essential oils from plants that are natural mosquito repellents include citronella, rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, basil, thyme, allspice, verbena, pine cedar, cajeput, geranium, cinnamon and clove. You can also sometimes find natural mosquito repellent formulas made of combinations of these oils in your health food store.
Of all of these plants citronella is the strongest and most effective deterrent to mosquitoes. The active ingredient most commonly found in “natural” or “herbal” insect repellents marketed in the United States. It is registered with the EPA as an insect repellent.
Citronella oil has a lemony scent and was originally extracted from the grass plant Cymbopogon nardus. You can buy citronella in many ways – as an ointment, cream, lotion, in candles or as a coil that can burned like incense to keep the mosquitoes out of the air.
A study done by the American College of Physicians showed that persons who lit citronella candles had 42% fewer bites than controls, which had no protection. The manufacturer of Natrapel (a herbal mosquito repellent made in Littleton, New Hampshire) has laboratory data showing that their 10% lotion reduced mosquito bites by 84% during a 4-minute test period. This fell a bit short of subjects who were using DEET in the same test whose biting was reduced by 96%. Still one or two mosquito bites more might be worth the lack of exposure to carcinogenic ingredients in the long run. For more information on how to prevent mosquito bites this season check out www.PeskySkeeters.com.