8 Natural Repellents to Prevent Mosquito Bites – During Summer

by | Jul 3, 2020 | Blog, Children, Kids

8 Natural Recommendations to Prevent Mosquito Bites – During Summer

 

Summer days call for outdoor activities with friends and families as going on hikes, camping or having a BBQ by the pool. However, during this season insects bites is something we have to deal with. There is always that tiny and, most times nearly invisible, insect that ends up annoying everyone. What am I talking about? Yes, MOSQUITOES

Mosquitoes are not only to blame for making us lose some night sleep with their buzz, but as several researchers for the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) state, mosquitoes can also transmit several diseases, such as Zika or Dengue, making it essential to establish a safe and effective mosquito control and awareness(1).

A recent study found out that most people use DEET Spray repellent given its long lasting effect, but since it is a synthetic repellent, it can cause some skin irritation. Mosquitoes can also be prevented using natural repellents and essential oils and other daily practices.

Natural mosquito repellents can be an effective alternative to prevent mosquito bites as well as being environmentally friendly. In this post we will share 8 recommendations you can try to avoid this insects during summer.  

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1. Citronella 

Plant based repellents have been used for generations in the traditional practice as a way of personal protection against mosquitoes. Essential oils from the citronella genus are commonly used in several plan-based mosquito repellents for commercial use. 

Even if the effect of citronella-based repellents is as effective as any DEET- based ones, the oils evaporate rapidly, causing a loss of efficiency and leaving the user unprotected. It is estimated that the effect of those repellents only last for about two hours.

It is important to have in mind that high concentrations of citronella can also cause skin irritations. For those travelling to disease endemic areas, citronella-based repellents are not recommended. 

 

 

2. Lemon Eucalyptus

Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil comprises 85% of citronella, which is mainly used by cosmetic industries due to its fresh smell. However, later on it was also discover its efficiency as a mosquito repellent. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends any EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) -registered products containing the active ingredient (para-menthane 3, 8 diol – PMD) of Oil Lemon Eucalyptus due to its reasonably long-lasting protection. 

According to a study published in 2011, PMD has a lower vapor pressure and provides very “high protection from a broad range of insect vectors over several hours” whereas the essential oil itself is only repellent for around an hour.  Additionally, the study also states that the CDC has advocated PMD as the only plant-based repellent to use in disease endemic areas, due to its proven clinical efficiency to prevent malaria and having no risk to human health. 

It is important to mention that the CDC doesn’t recommend using pure oil of lemon eucalyptus as a repellent, as it has not undergone any validated testing for safety and efficacy and it is not registered with EPA as an insect repellent. Joseph Conlon from the American Mosquito Control Association states that lemon eucalyptus based repellents cannot be used with children under three years old (2). 

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3. Peppermint oil

Peppermint Oil can also be an option for repelling mosquitoes. Some researchers in 2000 found out that peppermint essential oil showed strong repellent action against adult mosquitoes in human skin. The study also found that it was one of the most effective essential oils when it comes to repel malaria, filarial and yellow fever vectors for a period of 60-180 mins. Peppermint oil has proven also to be efficient in repelling the dengue vector. 

 

 

4. Lemongrass oil

According to other scientists, lemongrass oil is another good natural repellent to prevent mosquitoes bites during summer, comparing it to other commercial mosquito repellents.  

It has also been showed that combining lemongrass oil with another essential oil, its repelling effects get stronger. Also, lemongrass oil in olive oil proved to have an excellent activity with a 98,8% protection for over 2h. 

 

 

5. Neem

Neem is advertised as a real alternative to DEET- based repellents, but its effectiveness is still under research, as the ones carried out up to now are inconclusive. 

The properties of Neem oil can repel mosquitoes with those of DEET-based repellents. And according to a researcher of 2011, a concentration of 20% neem oil provided 70% protection to mosquitos up to 3 hours. 

The EPA has yet not approved Neem as a tropical insect repellent, as it has low dermal toxicity and can cause skin irritation. It is not recommended to use Neem oil as an effective repellent by travelers to disease endemic areas (3). 

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6. Clove

Another essential oil that has proved to be effective to mosquito bites is clove, specially to repel malaria, filarial and yellow fever vectors for a period of 60-180 minutes.  

However, as other essential oils, these are normally highly volatile, affecting their longevity. As the study states, these can always be mixed with other fixatives in order to improve their durability.

 

 

7. Catnip

Catnip comes from the mint family and its essential oil can also be used as a natural mosquito repellent, as the American Mosquito Control Association highlights. (4)

According to this research, catnip essential oil is also effective in repelling yellow fever mosquitoes. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that it has not yet been approved by the EPA, even if it is currently under review (5). 

 

 

8. Avoid still water

Besides plan-based repellents and other essential oils, there are some other techniques we can do at home to protect ourselves from mosquitoes bites. 

As a researcher for the  American Mosquito Control Association states, one of the best ways to avoid the appearance of these insects is to eliminate standing water around the house, where mosquitoes can breed. 

Some of the places you can check are:

  • Flower pots
  • Unclogging roof gutters
  • Emptying any kids’ pool or any other type of water recipient
  • Dogs, birds or any other animal drinking fountains

 

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Finally,  essential oils as the above have proven to be as effective as any other mosquito repellent containing DEET. However, it is important to remember that essentials oils are mostly effective for a short period of time, which is why it is important to apply them regularly. 

You can even make these natural repellents at home by combining essential oils with water or other carrier oils, such as coconut, olive or soybean oil. Another idea is to plant mosquito-repelling plants in your garden, such as thyme, catnip, basil or peppermint.

Be aware that some people may find that their skin reacts to essential oil, so it is important to do a patch test on a small area of your skin first and wait for your reaction. If you are living or travelling to country where mosquitoes can carry diseases, it would be highly recommended to use synthetic mosquito repellent

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