How to “deet’er” Mosquitos

We all hate mosquitoes, as much as they seem to love us. Not only are they a huge bother, leaving itchy, welts all over our body, but they can pose many dangers to our health such as Malaria, West Nile and Dengue Fever (depending on where you are in the world at least). They are always crashing parties and barbeques, sending everyone running for the indoors. And then there are those few that manage to make their way indoors and creep up on you when you least expect it – while you are sleeping – and feed away at your body while you are defenseless.

You may think that DEET is your biggest ally in your war against mosquitoes, but it actually may be your biggest enemy of all. DEET is the chemical ingredient found in many household insect repellents. While DEET is extremely effective, it doesn’t make it the best choice. In fact, it is likely doing your body more harm than good. DEET is actually a toxic chemical that can have serious effects on your body, particularly on the central nervous system and children are the most vulnerable to its affects. It is a registered pesticide that is absorbed into your skin and often blood stream when it is applied. Although it is supposed to be applied sparingly, many lather it on rather liberally, not knowing the side effects and dangers of DEET. In actuality, applying more has no greater effect on ridding the mosquitoes.

The biggest problem with DEET is that so many people are unaware of its harmful risks and do not take necessary precautions when using it. It is recommended to use a concentration of less than 30% for adults, less than 10% for older children and not at all for young children. Even still, apply sparingly keeping away from your face or any open cuts or wounds. It is advised to wear long sleeves, pants and socks when outside and exposed to mosquitoes, and apply the repellent over your clothes rather than directly on your skin. If you do apply it to your skin, wash it off with soap and water immediately when you return indoors.

Of course, even taking these precautions doesn’t completely free you and your family from the risks of using DEET. Therefore, you are better off tossing your DEET based repellent in the trash and finding an alternative solution. Fortunately, there are many alternatives available for everyone’s budget.

Natural Repellents

There are many known natural repellents you can try around your home. While not everyone has had luck with all of them, it is best to play around with them and see what works best for your mosquito environment. Try some of the following by mixing with oil:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Geranium
  • Cedar
  • Basil

Garlic is another natural mosquito repellent so start eating! If you already love garlic-y foods then this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Your friends might not appreciate it, but at least you will be mosquito-free.

One of the most popular natural repellents is, of course, citronella candles. Place a few around your porch, patio, etc. and let them go to work. They actually smell very good, so can be quite enjoyable!

Catnip is another recommended mosquito repellent. This is quite new to me and I haven’t tried it yet, but interested to know if this has worked for others.

Propane Mosquito Traps

One of the most effective solutions I’ve found is a propane mosquito trap. While these are going to cost a bit more than one of the options above, they are a great investment if you spend a lot of time on your outdoor porch or patio. They also produce the greatest results. These traps work by mimicking the scents that attract mosquitoes to humans, drawing the mosquito in and then sucking it up into the trap, therefore completely eliminating it. There are many models available in an array of price ranges. Check out some reviews before you invest in one and find the SkeeterVac or Mosquito Magnet that best suits your needs for your budget and environment. After purchasing one of these myself, I can attest that they really do work and are worth every penny. It’s great to be able to enjoy the great outdoors again, and last summer we hosted more barbeques than ever before. Our neighbors have even made the plunge after seeing the difference it has made at our house.

Additional Steps You Can Take

Another step you can take to keep the mosquitoes away is to keep your yard rid of any standing water. These are often mosquito havens and can easily be eliminated. Keep your yard clean, cut and free of tall weeds that tend to attract mosquitoes. Additionally, try planting some of the plants and herbs mentioned above, such as garlic, lavender or catnip. Marigolds are also a popular flower recommended as a natural repellent.