It's that time of year again. As the temperatures heat up and the humidity soars, mosquitoes come out of the woodwork, or rather the grass, bushes, around collections of stagnant water, and any other places that may be moist. But this doesn't mean that you or your loved ones have to be a mosquito buffet. Follow these simple tips on preventing mosquito bites during the hotter months.
DEET is perhaps the gold standard for insect repellants. It is effective on a variety of biting and stinging insects, not just mosquitoes and it is readily available at most grocery, discount and drug stores. DEET, which is short for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide is a chemical compound that is designed to repel a variety of insects, not actually kill them. Contrary to some internet claims, however, DEET has been repeatedly proven to be completely safe for use on humans, even children, as long as the label instructions are followed. Formulas come in a variety of concentrations, from 4 to 100 percent.
Citronella has been the go-to herb of choice for mosquito repellants for decades, and it is still one of the most effective. Typically used in the form of a candle or in oil torches, citronella oil has been shown to be effective at keeping away flying insects. It is thought that the smell is unpleasant to the bugs, but not unpleasant to humans. So for the next outdoor soirée, try lighting a few citronella candles or torches and keep the bugs away while setting the mood.
(For more tips on warding off bug bites and stings, see How To Prevent Bug Bites And Stings.)
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark areas because this is typically where the moisture required for breeding is present. Wearing light colored clothes can help keep mosquitoes away. Some say that wearing long sleeves or long pants helps as well, but this isn't always the case. Some mosquito species have adapted to be able to bite through clothing, so if someone is going to be outside it's a good idea to use multiple mosquito-busting methods.
This is a no brainer. Most mosquitoes require standing water to lay their eggs, which means that if you remove the standing water, it's harder for the little suckers to breed. Does this mean people have to get rid of pods in their yard? No, ponds can be stocked with beautiful fish that will eat the eggs. Fountains are typically not a concern since the water isn't still. Swimming pools and spas typically don't provide an ideal environment for mosquitoes so they are not an issue either. However, the dirty, standing water that can collect in a bird bath or a gardening bucket can be an issue.
Things like perfumes, hair sprays, deodorants and the like can all attract mosquitoes with their flowery smells. Mosquitoes have very keen smelling abilities, and they will zero in on anyone wearing anything that smells sweet. So when planning to be outside, it's better to opt for unscented cosmetics. If you want to smell good, use option 10 on the list. It smells good on people, but mosquitoes hate it.
Mosquitoes fly, but if it's too windy, they just blow away, making fans a great option, especially for outdoor parties. They will keep people cool while keeping the little biting nasties away. Heavy duty fans are available at home improvement and discount stores and they can be combined with other options on the list to create a multi-faceted approach to preventing mosquito bites.
A flat beer when combined with a few other ingredients are said to ward off mosquitoes. While there does seem to be some controversy surrounding this, it can't hurt to give it a try. This homemade remedy combines equal parts flat beer, Epsom salt and antibacterial mouthwash. It can be sprayed in landscaped areas to ward off the little blood suckers. It is definitely a safer alternative to chemical pesticides, especially on edible plants. The one downside? People who are drinking the beer are actually more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes because mosquitoes can smell the carbon dioxide in the beer (that's what makes it fizz).
(Another interesting fact about beer: It can actually be good for you; in moderation, of course. To learn more, see The Surprising Health Benefits Of Beer.)
Pure vanilla is another of the "old wives’ tale" methods for preventing mosquito bites, as scientific research on the subject seems to be lacking, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't work. The consensus is that the clear, pure vanilla extract that is sold in Mexico and along the southern border of the United States is the best, although there is no reason why any other form of pure vanilla extract wouldn't work just as well. Some say to mix it with water and spray it on, while others say to place it at pulse points on the body. Trial and error will determine what works best for each person.
Garlic is also touted as a great repeller of mosquitoes, but, again, there isn't much evidence to confirm or deny this claim. Most of the recommendations say that eating a clove per day will ward them off, but it will most likely ward off most people as well. Some also say that rubbing the garlic on the skin, in a fashion similar to the vanilla, will also be effective. One thing is for sure, garlic is great for cardiovascular health, so even if eating extra garlic doesn't ward off mosquitoes, it can certainly help prevent heart disease.
(Looking for more information on preventing heart disease? Be sure to check out 4 Simple Ways To Prevent Heart Disease.)
This product from Avon has been around for decades and has a number of great uses as a bug repellant. It is useful for repelling many different insects as well as mosquitoes and it smells good too. It also softens skin as the name implies. There is a whole line of Skin-So-Soft products available through Avon, but the original scent seems to be the most effective. The same line does also carry a bug repellant.
Mosquito bites don't have to ruin the summer anymore. Give these tips a try and then get back to enjoying the warm weather and the outdoors.