Ah, summer is here at last and so are the mosquitoes. After a very rainy spring, they are out in full force.
Image by ViaMoi Flickr.com
There are several precautions you can take to repel mosquitoes, like using a safe, non-toxic personal repellant, covering your arms and legs at dusk when the mosquitoes come out, avoid keeping standing water around in birdbaths or buckets, and placing certain aromatic plants like scented geraniums, marigolds or rosemary on your patio or deck or in your garden to help repel them. But, even with these precautions, most of us will usually get bitten, and some people more than others. I know I am a mosquito magnet – my husband says when he is with me, he never gets bitten! So, what non-toxic relief can you get for those nasty, itchy, inflamed bites? Lots! Below is a list of common household products, which relieve itching and help to heal the bite.
- Toothpaste (peppermint works best)
- Salt – Moisten first then rub table salt on the area.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Witch Hazel – Make a paste out of witch hazel and baking soda. Or just baking soda and water (works for bee stings too!)
- Aloe relieves the itch and heals the wound.
- Lemon is good when you just have to scratch. Cut it in half and use the pulp side. Helps reduce the chance of infection from scratching.
- Deodorant – Rub on immediately after getting the bite.
- Lavender, tea tree or neem base essential oil (just a drop) reduces inflammation and prevents infection.
- Garlic salt and seasoning salt mixed with an equal amount of water.
Each remedy works better for some people than others. When you get your next bite, try some and let me know which remedies work for you.
Some information compiled from www.home-remedy.org and Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles.
Along with the cookouts, volleyball games, hiking, camping and other glories of summer come mosquitoes and ticks. But who wants to use pesticides or products containing DEET, which has been associated with a variety of health problems ranging from dizziness to seizures with children being particularly susceptible? There are several safer and effective alternatives.
A garlic spray in your yard provides excellent control. Garlic has a natural sulfur which repels insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and even black flies, yet does not harm humans, pets, bees, butterflies or plants. Since mosquitoes are soft-bodied insects the garlic juice can be very toxic to them in increased concentrations. Mosquitoes are also extremely odor sensitive and the garlic can repel them for up to a month or more, as long as they can still detect an odor. Farmers have been using garlic for generations. Organic based landscaping or pest control companies often offer a garlic spray or you can buy a product called Garlic Barrier and do it yourself.
For small areas like patios or decks, certain aromatic plants keep mosquitoes away. Marigolds planted with pungent herbs like catnip (nearly 10 times more effective than DEET) and rosemary are effective and make attractive containers. I planted the new “mosquito plant”, which grows fast and seems to work. This scented geranium was specifically designed to keep pests away.
For personal repellents sprayed directly onto your skin, soybean-oil-based products have been shown to provide protection for a period of time similar to a product with a low concentration of DEET (4.75%). Other ingredients usually include pure plant extracts like citronella, cedarwood, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass and peppermint, which are natural, effective and have a nice aroma. Buzz Away and Bite Blocker are good brands that are potent and long lasting.
Two cultural practices, don’t keep standing or stagnate water around where mosquitoes can breed and consider putting up a bat house. Mosquitoes are the primary food source for bats and some species eat up to 1000 of them an hour!