Posted by: “Suzanne” email@example.com
Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:16 am (PDT)
Aromatherapy — Natural Scents that Repel Mosquitos
If you prefer to take a natural approach, there are numerous plant-based oils that can be effective at keeping mosquitos away — peppermint, cinnamon, citronella, cedar, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, thyme, lavender, catnip, patchouli, tea tree oil, eucalyptus and sage, to name a few. But be careful — you’ve heard it before from me, but it bears repeating: Natural substances also have the potential for harm if used incorrectly. Essential oils, in particular, are potent and may cause liver problems in susceptible individuals.
How well do they work? These oils haven’t been tested by the EPA for this purpose, but a few smaller independent studies have found undiluted oils of citronella, patchouli, clove, catnip and Zanthoxylum limonella (lemon oil) quite helpful, sometimes offering more than two hours of potent repellent power.
How to apply: Here’s the rub: Undiluted oils provide the best protection when applied directly to exposed skin. But they can also cause irritation and rashes and haven’t been tested for safety. A good solution is to look for these oils in natural skin creams, lotions or oils that use them as ingredients, formulated to be less irritating.
What Else Works?
Preventive advice includes doing all that you can to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your environment, suggests Dr. Paskewitz. This includes taking the following measures:
Eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes breed like crazy in ponds and other natural pools of water. To avoid bites, avoid these locations, particularly on days that are hot and still. Keep control over the mosquito population around your home by draining water anywhere that it might puddle — even in small containers such as empty flower pots, spare tires, kiddie pools, etc.
Stay indoors at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes are most prolific in the early morning and at twilight, so if there are lots in your area, try to stay indoors at these times.
Watch what you wear. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, particularly red and violet, so wear lighter and brighter colors — also wear long sleeves and pants.
Don’t drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol may boost the sugar content in your sweat, making you more attractive to mosquitoes.
If you’re itching to learn more about mosquito behavior and how to stay safe from these pesky critters, visit the Integrated Mosquito Management Web site that Dr. Paskewitz and her team at the University of Wisconsin have developed: http://www.entomolo gy.wisc.edu/ mosquitosite/ . It’s an interesting read — and they put lots of home remedies to the test.
Susan M. Paskewitz, PhD, professor, department of entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.