Keep Mosquitoes Away Naturally

Keep Mosquitoes Away Naturally

Medically reviewed in September 2020

Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the Japanese martial art of Aikido, once said, “The spirit is the true shield.” While there’s no doubt Ueshiba was onto something, his philosophy is not going to do you a lot of good when it comes to warding off mosquitoes. With the Zika virus threatening to be spread by mosquitoes across the southern U.S., and West Nile virus being transmitted from California to Vermont, it’s important to protect yourself. While repellents containing DEET are safe (though not for babies under two months old), there are natural alternatives that experts say are almost as effective.

Mosquitoes are particularly attracted to lactic acid on our skin and carbon dioxide in our breath. Repellents work by confusing the receptors that help them detect these substances. Oil of lemon eucalyptus, which comes from the eucalyptus plant, has been shown to have this effect (although it’s not for children under the age of three). In fact, researchers writing in the Journal of Insect Science determined that a lemon-eucalyptus oil (containing p-menthane-3,8-diol) was almost as effective and long-lasting as a DEET repellent. They also found that repellants with floral fragrances, such as citronella, kept skeeters away for a while (they need to be reapplied every two hours), but repellants relying on vitamin B1/thiamin weren’t effective.

So get your hands on an effective repellant to keep skeeters at bay and follow up by wearing long pants, socks, and long sleeves (weather permitting). And indoors make sure that you have well-sealed and screen-protected windows and doors!

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