This article has been updated to reflect information from the recent outbreak of West Nile Virus in Southern USA, where over 1000 cases of West Nile Virus have been reported as well as over 40 deaths across 5 states.
A mild winter and wet spring in some areas has been a combination mosquitos love. warm, wet weather often brings mosquitos.
West Nile virus is on the rise in the United States, and transmitted via a species of mosquito. With a little planning, you’ll be able to avoid the sting of these little pests with the use of some natural methods. Avoiding the sting is essential to evading the virus.
Can you withstand traditional mosquito repellents History has shown us that mosquito and bug repellents are filled with controversial ingredients, some like DDT and DEET found to be harmful only after thousands of people have used them for extensive periods of time. While DDT is no longer used by the general public, DEET continues to be found in many products. Some studies have even found mosquitos becoming desensitized to DEET. Ingredients in DEET are classified as a neurotoxins with the potential to cause brain injury. In addition, some studies have found DEET to be dangerous when combined with common insecticides used in agriculture. Science is proving that essential oils and some other natural ingredients are just as effective, some more powerful than harsh chemicals at deterring mosquitos. In our family I tend to err on the conservative side, especially with my children when selecting methods to avoid insect bites.
The first step in battling mosquitos is to lessen your exposure: Remove standing water from your yard where they will lay their eggs. If you have small ponds or bird baths keep the water treated or empty containers and clean weekly to keep larvae from hatching. Check out some natural insect control products from an organic garden supply for your yard. Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants in particular after dusk or when walking in wooded areas. Check your window and door screens for holes or spots mosquitos could invade your home. Consider replacing outdoor lights with a yellow bug light that does not attract mosquitos like traditional lighting.
Essential Oils are some of the most powerful mosquito deterrants available. Even the CDC recommends Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil as another alternative to DEET. Fragranced oils will not be any help against pests like the mosquito so make sure you are using a Therapeutic Grade Oil that will offer the best defense. Essential oils are pure plant extracts that protect the plants and trees from natural pests. These same plant extracts can offer protection to people as well. For the best results use a combination of oils to create a powerful blend. Here is a list of the most powerful oils mosquitos hate, followed by recipes I’ve used as natural mosquito repellent. Many of these oils are safe for use on everyone, including children and pets.
- Lavender - safe for everyone, young and old including infants. Simply apply therapeutic grade lavender (I only recommend Therapeutic, food grade lavender tested for potency) directly to exposed skin (Neat).
- Peppermint – safe for children over 4 diluted with a carrier oil. Peppermint is stimulating so avoid using right before going to bed. Also has a cooling effect on the skin, good for hot days.
- Lemongrass – powerful oil that should be diluted before applying to the skin. Effective when applied to clothing from a spray bottle. Do not apply to the face.
- Citronella – make sure you use pure therapeutic grade citronella oil, not just a fragranced oil which will not repel mosquitos. Dilute before applying to skin.
- Cedarwood- adds a woodsy fragrance to a mosquito repellent, helps repel other insects in addition to mosquitos such as sand flies.
- Thyme – anti-parasitic oil, has a very strong aroma that may be softened when blended with other oils.
- Purifying Essential Oil blend – citronella, lemongrass, lavandin, rosemary, melaleuca & myrtle essential oils. This is a powerful blend that mosquitos and other flying insects dislike. We mix 8-10 drops of purification blend with a teaspoon of vegetable oil and apply to exposed skin. This blend is also excellent for bringing relief to any insect bites and stings. Apply undiluted 1-2 drops directly to the location as soon as possible after a bite or sting to lessen itching & swelling. (test first on a small area for sensitive skin).
- Immune Boosting Essential Oil blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata & rosemary essential oils. Helpful when mixed in a spray bottle and misted on the skin. Also a good option for treating an insect bite when applied topically. Dilute Immune Boosting Blend 1:1 with a carrier oil or witch hazel and apply on location as needed.
- MELaleuca/ROSEmary Essential Oil blend of melaleuca alternifolia and rosemary essential oils. Apply neat or diluted 1:1 onto location to relieve pain and itching from stings and mosquito bites. Mix in a spray bottle and apply to clothing or exposed areas of skin.
- Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil is recommended as a powerful mosquito repellant, effective as much as DEET products, without the side effects and neurotoxins of chemicals.
DIY Mosquito Repellant Here are a couple of mosquito blends we’ve used in our family. You can mix up your own combination of essential oils to have on hand. Add the essential oils to a glass spray bottle, the same method as making your own air freshener. You can also add the essential oil blend to a vegetable oil and apply to the skin before exposure to mosquitos. Making your own mosquito repellent makes sense if you want to live a life with less toxins. These combinations are quick and easy to mix and you’ll know what ingredients you are putting on your body.
Mosquito Blend #1, mix together in a 4 ounce spray bottle and shake before each use, or add 1 drop castille soap or bath gel base to emulsify the oil
- 15 drops Purifying essential oil blend
- 8 drops peppermint essential oil
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
- 8 drops cedarwood essential oil
- enough purified water to fill the bottle
Mosquito blend #2, mix in a 4 ounce spray bottle, shaking before each use, or adding 1 drop of catille soap or bath gel base to emulsify oil:
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil
- 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 10 drops melaleuca essential oil
- 10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- enough water, witch hazel or apple cider vinegar to fill the bottle
Alternatively, apply lavender or purification oil directly to exposed skin, mixing with a vegetable oil if desired to extend the time between applications. The oils in these blends may also be used for pets.
Got the sting? Lavender, Immune Boosting Blend (cinnamon/clove/melaleuca), Purifying blend and clove oil all stop the bug venom from entering your body. If you get bit by a mosquito, stung by a bee or a wasp, apply an essential oil on contact as soon as possible. Often the itch will go away in 10-15 minutes. If you wait too long, the venom will hit your system and it’s often harder to stop the itch. Use lavender for little kids, the clove, Cinnamon/Clove and Purifying blend for older kids and adults. The oils will also keep bites clean and speed healing.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and Pure Home and Body LLC does not intend to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases.