Hunting is not one of the generally accepted ways of eliminating animals (or, in our specific case, insects) that come into conflict with mankind, so we will ignore such a solution from the start. Also, hunting is thoroughly ineffective when it comes to mosquitoes. Each and every time, after endless minutes of running and climbing onto every piece of furniture around the house, after stalking and chasing these little predators until we become dizzy, when we finally go to sleep thinking that we have finished off the last mosquito (with evidence of their destruction littering the walls), their unmistakable and annoying buzz is heard once again.
If smacking insects against the wall is unsuccessful even when walls are available for this purpose, then what can we do when we are caught out in the open? Since insect-repellant substances available for sale are often full of harmful chemicals that affect our health, we will proceed to present a number of natural alternatives for keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Flower pots containing basil or geraniums, placed strategically on window sills and tables, are not well liked by mosquitoes, and they tend to stay away from these plants. The most sought-after plant in the war against mosquitoes is citronella, which can be planted in a pot, and allowed to spread its pleasant odor that is much hated by insects or bought in the shape of a flagon of essential oils and rubbed on the skin. Citronella oil is even acknowledged by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a non-toxic bio pest repellant.
A vast array of oils can be used to mask the natural odor of our body, which attracts many insect species like a magnet. Essential oils cannot be used in their concentrated form, and have to be diluted with neutral oils or alcohol before being applied onto the skin. You should be aware that the excessive use of essential oils, even when mixed or diluted, can lead to skin rashes and other adverse reactions. Use them moderately.
The number one rule when trying to make your own natural insecticides is to combine the ingredients in order to obtain a concentration of essential oil between 5 and 10%: you should mix one part essential oil and 10 to 20 parts neutral oil or alcohol.
The essential oils that combat mosquitoes are made from cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemon, citronella and castor oil plant, whereas recommended neutral oils and alcohols are: olive oil, sunflower oil, any other type of cooking oil, witch-hazel extract, vodka etc.
You can rub or pulverize the mosquito repellant concoction onto the skin, avoiding contact with the eyes. The product should be applied each hour and after swimming or exercising. The mixture should be stored in a dark colored bottle and kept away from heat or direct sunlight.
Last but not least, a good way to prevent not only the discomfort and itching caused by small insect bites, but also the various diseases brought by these blood-sucking animals, is to avoid as much as possible mosquito infested areas (parks and places with stale water), particularly when mosquitoes are active (in the evening and at night).
Blood-sucking insects use chemical, visual and thermal signals to locate their victims. All you have to do in order to be chosen as a mosquito’s next meal is to:
- Wear dark colored clothes
- Exercise and sweat profusely, thus eliminating even more carbon dioxide and lactic acid – two chemical substances that attract insects, including mosquitoes. Increased humidity around the human body can also act as a signal for insects to come and inspect you.
- Breathe (unfortunately for you). Mosquitoes can track their next meal up to a distance of 50 meters by following the carbon dioxide trail left behind by breathing.
- Eat salty or potassium-rich food, which will increase your body’s production of lactic acid.
- Use perfumes that have a strongly floral scent, or cosmetic products with a sweet odor, both of which draw mosquitoes like a magnet. Even fabric softeners with a subtle floral aroma can attract insects.
By following these rules (as much as you cans, of course), you will not entirely escape mosquitoes, but your outdoor walks and your nights will be much more peaceful and quiet.
[i] This is not lemongrass. Although citronella and lemongrass are two closely related species, belonging to the Cymbopogon Genus and the Poaceae Family, lemongrass is used mostly in cooking and is known scientifically as C. citratus, whereas citronella, used generally as an insect repellant and in the perfume industry, is known under the Latin name of C. nardus.
Article written by Alexandra Petre and translated by Mihail Mitoșeriu.