You may be familiar with DEET, a powerful mosquito deterrent made from chemicals. For those who don't like the idea of using a chemically synthesized insect repellent on their skin to protect against mosquito bites, repellents based on certain essential oils may provide a solution. Essential oils are plant-derived and work well to discourage biting pests from turning you into a snack. MosquitoNix® has put together a handy-dandy guide about which essential oils work best and how to make a DIY mosquito repellent. Consider exploring these more natural options for use in areas where the risk of disease contraction through mosquitoes is low.
Essential oils can be a more eco-friendly way to repel mosquitoes because they camouflage the scent of your body with scents that biting insects don't like. These oils are like concentrated plants, so it doesn't take much to see results.
Some of the essential oils reported to be effective in repelling mosquitoes are:
Citronella: This essential oil, used at concentrations of 5 to 10%, is one of the most popular natural repellents available. Study results on citronella shave shown that its topical application at 100% concentration can provide complete protection against three types of mosquitoes for up to two hours in a laboratory setting. However, too high concentrations of citronella can cause skin sensitivity in humans.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE): This oil is extracted from the gum eucalyptus tree, found in Australia. The chemical extract is called PMD and has a demonstrated effect as an insect repellent against several species of mosquitoes that spread malaria, as well as the yellow fever mosquito.
OLE should not be confused with lemon eucalyptus oil, due to the similarity in their names. Lemon eucalyptus oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the lemon eucalyptus tree. The distillate contains a number of botanical compounds, including citronella and a very low and variable amount of PMD. Lemon eucalyptus oil has significantly less efficacy than OLE as a mosquito repellent.
Clove: Clove essential oil is one of the active ingredients in many commercial insect spray repellents, and diffusing the pure oil or spraying it on your body will also help keep mosquitoes at bay. Plus, planting cloves around the perimeter of your yard will reduce the local insect traffic.
Peppermint: In another bit of bad luck for mosquitoes, they find peppermint oil majorly offensive. One study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine showed that applying peppermint oil on the arm of a study participant protected that individual's arms from mosquito bites for up to two and a half hours. Another research study found peppermint oil to be significantly effective in repelling insects that carry diseases like yellow fever. Other essential oils reported to be successful as mosquito repellents include lemongrass, basil, neem, eucalyptus, catnip, lavender and thyme.
When using essential oil to ward off mosquitoes, it's important to know how to apply or disperse them. Remember, they are concentrated and quite strong, so they may irritate the skin if applied directly without diluting them.
Essential oils can be diffused in the air in a diffuser or blended into a topical spray by diluting the essential oil in water combined with witch hazel astringent or vodka. We recommend mixing a few drops of the above essential oils with witch hazel in a colored glass bottle. Clear glass allows the UV rays to destroy the oil strength, making your DIY repellent less effective. Also, before considering a homemade mosquito repellent using essential oils, do some research regarding the quality and effectiveness of various oils on the market to find products with a proven track record.
While the idea of a more natural alternative to chemical insect repellents is appealing, keep in mind that the Environmental Protection Agency's testing or involvement with essential oil repellents is minimal, so there is little data to rely upon in determining the safety or effectiveness of their use, whether in a DIY essential oil mosquito repellent recipe or prepared formulations.
If you travel or live in a location known to be at higher risk for mosquito disease transmittal, you may want to stick with commercial applications that adhere to regulatory guidelines.
For more eco-friendly mosquito control solutions, contact MosquitoNix. Our non-toxic all-green services offer a gentler option that won't harm children, pets or the environment. Contact us to learn more today.
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