Stopping Mosquito Bites Without DEET
Apparently I’m one of those people who tastes really good to mosquitoes. It’s such crap. Of all the things in the animal kingdom I could naturally delicious to, it has to be the one that’s endemic to everywhere I like spending my summers, and leaves itchy, red welts behind. In my next life I’m applying to be delicious to butterflies. Or Ryan Gosling.
In addition to being annoying, mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria and encephalitis. Which means in mosquito-infested areas, repelling those bad bugs becomes about more than just avoiding an itch.
In deep woodsy situations, many of us turn to DEET, the active ingredient in most commercial bug repellents. And while the FDA confirms that DEET is safe for children and adults to use, many users complain of reactions or don’t wish to apply DEET’s strong smelling chemicals to the skin for everyday use.
So if you’re like me, and can’t even water your tomato plants or enjoy a rooftop party without being chewed to bits, here are some alternatives to DEET and other commercial bug sprays that may alleviate your suffering. Note: None of these are confirmed to attract or repel butterflies or Ryan Goslings.
Light colors and covered skin
While the idea of covering yourself head to toe in summer can be unbearable, it’s one of the best ways to repel bugs. It may not be your number one fashion choice, but for a day in the garden or hiking, stick to loose, cotton, pale clothes. And for that rooftop party, maybe your white jeans?
Mosquitoes are said to hate the scent of certain plants. Rosemary, sage and even catnip can be effective in driving away biting bugs. You can dab the essential oils on your skin, plant them around your backyard or even throw a few sprigs on the grill for a mosquito-repelling, pleasant-smelling incense.
Apple cider vinegar and garlic
Nature’s miracle juice even keeps bugs away. It’s been an old wives’ tale for years, but there is evidence it really works! Three days before you leave for camping, beaching or your country retreat, start taking 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar three times per day. A common way to drink it is by pouring it into cold, filtered water and adding a bit of honey if you can’t choke it down. If you’re not repelled by that, try chewing a raw garlic clove. This will repel mosquitoes, however will also probably repel Ryan Gosling or any other potentially cute people who want to kiss you!
Not everyone finds them cute, but I sure do. A bat house in a tree in your yard can really go a long way to keeping pests away. Bats can eat up to 50 mosquitoes an hour! A mutually beneficial relationship if there ever was one. Contact Bat Conservation International for a pattern to build your own bat house or suggestions for online bat house retailers.
Health editor, Tini Howard is a writer, aerialist and foodie from the East Coast.