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Unwanted Critters

Natural Ways To Repel Mosquitoes

Q. What are some natural ways to repel mosquitoes?

A. It’s not for everyone but as an avid hiker i swear by rubbing a garlic clove pinched to get the juiceflowing all over exposed skin. this is better, and cheaper than dangerous deet products. also avoid perfumed soaps, cosmetics, hair goop or anything that smells even like deodorant

A. I have been making a tea out of herbs from my herb garden of cat mint and rosemary and it is working for me! I just cut the leaves and stems up in a cup and pour in a cup of boiling water and let it steep for an hour or so, then keep it in spray bottle in the fridge. Also, tea tree oil works.

A. When we lived in Malaysia, the locals swore that eating lots of bananas provided the best protection against mosquitoes. The only rider was that they had to be the small bananas (lady fingers, we called them). Don’t know how you feel about bananas, but it seemed to work for us :) Cheers – Hush

A. I like these two:  Rub citronella oil on exposed areas or burn citronella candles.
Tansy or basil planted near a door will repel mosquitoes

A. We have plenty here too. We apply Avon Skin so Soft liberally before going outside. It really works, it’s a little oily but washes off with soap when we come back in and shower. I have read where rubbing a Bounce (fabric softener) sheet on arms, legs and face deters them. Golfers hang a sheet from their belts, but I haven’t tried this. Hope this info. helps you, God Bless you and yours. – Shirley

A. I, also, live in the Blue Ridge Mountains and mosquitoes can be a problem here. First I don’t wear perfume of any kind: shower gel, deodorant, shampoos all without perfumes. No attractants. Next, when I know I’ll be outside I take garlic supplements or eat foods with garlic. An excellent repellent. Also, I use Skin So Soft Original Scent products. I have, also, used pennyroyal and mint crushed and wrapped in a bandana wore around my neck. Don’t forget the pets. They can be wiped down with Skin So Soft and wear an herbal necklace, too. Lastly, if bitten I never scratch the biten area but I will slap it to bring blood and antihistamines to the area.

A. Bob, a fisherman, takes one vitamin B-1 tablet a day April through October . He said it works. He was right. The odor the tablet gives out through your skin (YOU can not smell it) repels mosquitos, black flies, no seeum’s, and gnats. It does not work on stinging insects. Hasn’t had a mosquito bite in 33 years. Try it. Every one he has talked into trying it works on them. Vitamin B-1( Thiamine Hydrochloride 100 mg.) Kenn said NPR reports that if you eat bananas, the mosquitoes like you, something about the banana oil as your body processes it. (Maybe they need the potassium too- lol) Stop eating bananas for the summer and the mosquitoes will be much less interested.

This is going to floor you, but one of the best insect repellents someone found (who is in the woods every day), is Vick’s Vaporub.

Plant marigolds around the yard, the flowers give off a smell that bugs do not like, so plant some in that garden also to help ward off bugs without using insecticides. "Tough guy" Marines who spend a great deal of time "camping out" say that the very best mosquito repellant you can use is Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil mixed about half and half with alcohol. mix your own: 20 drops Eucalyptus oil 20 drops Cedarwood oil 10 drops Tea Tree oil 10 drops Geranium oil 2 oz. carrier oil ( such as Jojoba ) Mix together in a 4 oz. container. Apply to skin as needed avoiding the eye area. Keep out of reach of children. Test on a small area of skin for sensitivities . Experiment with different percentages of essential oil One of the best natural insect repellants that I’ve discovered is made from the clear real vanilla (not the grocery store vanilla extract which is mostly alcohol). This is the pure vanilla that is sold in Mexico. It’s cheap there if you know of someone that lives there or in the US close to the border. If not, health food stores usually carry it or can order it for you. I use it half vanilla and half water and find that it works great for mosquitoes and ticks, don’t know about other insects. when all else fails–get a frog – JoAnne

A. grow rosemary in your backyard. Mosquitoes hate it and you can use it for cooking all year round. BB

Please Note: Caution should be used with cats

Mosquitoes in Your Garden? Try Planting These!

By Scottie Johnson

If you are a serious gardener, you spend lots of time outdoors. And, for sure, you would rather be tending your plants than swatting mosquitoes.

While there are many things you can do to keep mosquitoes away, there are some plants that will beautify your yard and help repel mosquitoes.

As one more way to keep mosquitoes away from you and your yard, try planting these attractive plants.

Horsemint has a scent similar to citronella. Horsemint grows wild in most of the Eastern United States, from Mexico, Texas up to Minnesota to Vermont. It is partial to sandy soils and will grow in USDA Zones 5-10. Native Americans used it as a treatment for colds and flu. It has natural fungicidal and bacterial retardant properties because it’s essential oils are high in thymol.

This wonderful herb we use for seasoning is also a great, natural mosquito repellant. It has been used for centuries to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Rosemary is a native of the Mediterranean, so it likes hot, dry weather and well-drained soil. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-10, and must be grown as a pot plant in colder climates. If you happen to live in a part of the country where rosemary does not grow, you can get a good quality rosemary essential oil; mix 4 drops with 1⁄4 cup olive oil. Store in a cool, dry place. When it comes to fresh plant oils as natural mosquito repellants, there is every reason to have the plant in your yard, if they will grow in your area. It is an inexpensive and attractive way to boost the appearance of the landscape and have natural mosquito repellants on hand as well.

Organic gardeners have used marigolds as companion plants to keep aphids away. Mosquitoes don’t like its scent any better (and some humans feel the same way). Marigolds are sun-loving annuals that come in a variety of shapes and sizes for almost any landscape. They are quite easy to grow from seed.

This charming little bedding plant contains coumarin, and mosquitoes detest the smell. It is used in the perfume industry and is even in some commercial mosquito repellants. Don’t rub ageratum on your skin, though. It has some other less desirable elements that you don’t want to keep on your skin in quantity. Ageratums are annuals, and they come in a muted blue and white that compliments most other plantings.

There are two types of plants that are called mosquito plants. One is a member of the geranium family that was genetically engineered to incorporate the properties of citronella. Citronella only grows in tropical places, but it is a well known repellant for mosquitoes. This plant was created to bring the repellant properties of citronella into a hardier plant. It will grow where any geranium will thrive. Many have questioned its usefulness as a mosquito repellant, but it is attractive enough to warrant planting for it’s ornamental value.

The other kind of mosquito plant is agastache cana. Its common names include Texas hummingbird mint, bubblegum mint, giant hyssop, or giant hummingbird mint. As you might guess, hummingbirds are quite attracted to it. It is a New Mexico native, also found in parts of Texas. It is, in fact, a member of the mint family and its leaves do have a pungent aroma when crushed. In its native habitat, it is perennial, and is usually hardy in USDA Zones 5a-9a. It blooms late summer to early fall, so it catches hummingbirds on their annual migration. The long, medium pink flowers reel in butterflies as well.

CATNIP One of the most powerful mosquito repellant plants is ordinary catnip. Recent studies have shown that it is ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. It is a short lived perennial throughout most of the United States. It is easy to grow from seed, and quickly reseeds. Aside from its intoxicating effects on cats, the leaves make a very soothing tea.

With all of these plants, the leaves must be crushed to release the aroma. Otherwise mosquitoes can’t smell them. And, with rosemary and catnip, you can simply crush a few leaves and rub on your skin and clothing to enhance the effect.

So, next time you are revising your plantings, consider using some of these attractive plants to do more than just enhance the landscape. You can have pretty ornamentals that also drive mosquitoes away.

Scottie Johnson is a life long mosquito warrior and freelance writer dedicated to eliminating mosquitoes from her life. She is also an organic gardener.