Madison Smartt Bell, the famous American novelist, said: “To me, there is nothing more soothing than the song of a mosquito that can’t get through the mesh to bite you.” But that’s not it. If you want full protection against the diseases that mosquitoes carry in the form of viruses, you need a better plan than a mesh or a net. While screens and mesh are a good way to keep them out, we know that they creep in from some place or the other. Mosquitoes are so small that they can even pass through some nets and screens, and besides, you can’t keep your house locked all the time. Doors and windows are opened from time to time, and that’s when the mosquitoes get inside your house. A collection of garbage and water, in and around your house, will invite the mosquitoes for a feast, and when they find you roaming around, they are drawn to you like moth to the flame. Mosquito bites are usually overlooked, but it is important to find out whats going on. Mosquito saliva irritates the skin and causes swelling which can be treated with an anti-septic cream. But if it is one of the mosquitoes which carry dangerous viruses and parasites causing diseases like zika, malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, elephantiasis, yellow fever, etc, it is a matter of concern and requires immediate medical attention(1). If you are among those who don’t wish to rely on strong repelling solutions available in the market, then read here about some homemade natural mosquito repellents, which are perfectly safe and environment-friendly.
Some Species Of Mosquitoes To Look Out For
- Anopheles: They are one of the most dangerous species of mosquitoes that carry malaria with them. Female Anopheles is the main culprit here, because it feeds on blood to produce eggs. Plasmodium is the parasite that causes malaria which transfers from the mosquito to the human it feeds on (2). Most of these mosquitoes are active at dusk or dawn, and can found feeding indoors or outdoors on humans and other mammals, so you need to be careful wherever you are.
- Aedes: This is a fairly new species of mosquitoes which has become very famous in a very short time (3). It was first identified in 1947 in monkeys, and humans in 1952, but its first outbreak was not reported till 2007 in the island of Yap (4). This mosquito can be a vector of zika, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, etc. They prefer to live near humans, so there is a higher possibility of getting an infection from this mosquito as compared to others (5). It is advised to wear full sleeves and keeping yourself covered when going out.
- Culex Pipiens: They are the notorious species which transfer the West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses. These avian pathogen carrying bugs are known to survive in the climate of urban, sub-urban area, and tropical regions, so you need to look out for these no matter where you are. These mosquitoes feed on mammals as well as birds, so if you have a pet bird, you need to be even more careful (6).
- Culex Fatigans: These species of mosquitoes are deadly because they carry seeds of filariasis which causes filaria, also known as elephantiasis. If it bites a person already suffering from this disease, and then bites a healthy person, there are high chances that it will transfer the worms which carry this disease. This mosquito is more active in the dry climate because rain floods most of the areas where they breed (7).
If you have horses or other cattle around your house, you need to be much more alarmed because the mosquitoes can hurt your animals too. And besides, mosquitoes are attracted to excreta, which is a big issue in the houses with pets and cattle. Most mosquitoes, when come in contact with the virus, need some time for that virus to develop in their body before they can transfer it through their saliva. This period is generally 15-20 days. So, we need to kill the mosquitoes before they become dangerous.
Now that you know what is out there and how dangerous it is, it’s time to find out what you can do to protect yourself and your family from these flying vectors buzzing around in your house. You need the mosquitoes to go away, but you don’t want to use chemical sprays which are more harmful to your health than the mosquitoes. And some of the mosquitoes have become immune to commercial insecticides, so it won’t make sense using these products against them. In case you are wondering how to repel mosquitoes naturally, we have come up with the best DIY natural mosquito repellents which will work better than the chemicals and are 100% safe for you, your family, your pets, your cattle and the environment.
Natural Mosquito Repellents You Can Make At Home
1. Garlic Repellent Spray
It was found out in a study that garlic has the properties to stop the growth of mosquitoes, especially the Aedes species. The study concluded that the eggs of aedes mosquito were not able to hatch when they were present a garlic bulb extract. There were no cracks on the egg shells which happened because the embryos were disabled before they could turn into larvae and escape the eggs (8).
You can prepare your own garlic spray by adding some minced garlic to mineral oil and letting it sit for about 1-2 days. Now put 2 tablespoons of this oil without any garlic pieces in a spray bottle with 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 250ml of water. Spray this in and around your house, especially in damp areas and dustbins.
2. Catnip Spray
Catnip has been used to naturally repel mosquitoes for a very long time, even before people discovered how dangerous mosquitoes can get. This method is very safe and probably not as strong as commercial pesticides, but you can breathe it in, and it will be as safe as breathing oxygen. Nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip that repels the mosquitoes, is also used to drive cockroaches away (9).
Use a cup full of fresh leaves and steep them 3 cups of boiling water. Cool this mixture down, pour it in a spray bottle and spray away.
3. Witch Hazel Spray
This is a plant from the family of Hamamelidaceae which can be found in North America and Japan. It is one of the best natural ways to repel mosquitoes, and it is also used in medicine because of its therapeutic properties. You can apply this spray on your skin to repel mosquitoes. It works very well in healing an insect bite also if you rub it on the affected area (10).
To make this spray, you will require about 20 drops of witch hazel essential oil, a tablespoon of grape seed oil, and a teaspoon of vodka. Combine all the ingredients in a small spray bottle which will be easy to carry if you want to use it while camping. Apply this on your skin to stop the mosquitoes from biting you.
4. Basil (Various Ways)
Basil is an uplifting plant, and we all love it in our Italian food. Well, guess what, mosquitoes don’t, which gives us an edge over them. This is a natural mosquito repellent plant which has shown both mosquitoes repelling and larvicidal activity in research conducted, just to study the effect of basil on mosquitoes. There are various ways you can use basil to get rid of those mosquitoes (11).
Add basil essential oil to your diffuser with water and let it perform its function. You will notice reduced activity of mosquitoes in the places you use this. You can make a spray with 30-35 drops added in a cup of water and spray it in the affected areas. The best and the most long lasting method is planting a basil plant in your garden, this will repel the mosquitoes, add a new plant to your garden and gives you free basil to use in the kitchen. Seems like a win-win situation.
5. Marigold Spray
Studies have found out that Marigold flower extracts can kill the mosquitoes very effectively. The mortality rate was 100% after 72 hours of incubation. It also showed that marigold has an excellent larvicidal activity which means they kill the mosquitoes before they even come out of the eggs as larvae (X). It is very safe as the marigold flower is not harmful to humans and it is also used in the kitchen as an ingredient in some parts of Europe (12).
You can make a spray with marigold flowers at home to get rid of the blood-thirsty bugs. You will need a cup tightly packed with the marigold flowers and 2 cups of water. Put the flowers and water in a blender. Pour this mixture into an airtight jar and let it rest for 2 days. Shake this mixture whenever you pass by it, this will make the process of leeching out the chemical compound of the flower, in the water, faster. Strain this when the resting period is complete and pour it in a spray bottle. Use this spray wherever you would use a bug spray.
6. Tea Tree Oil Spray And Topical Use
Also known as Melaleuca alternifolia, tea tree oil is not just a green cleaning powerhouse, it is one of the best natural mosquito repellents. Studies have found out that tea tree oil has insecticidal and repellent effects against mosquitoes in cows with mosquito infestation. This can be used even for mosquito or another insect bites as it has anti-parasite properties and it has been proven to be completely safe. It will help reduce the itch and irritation caused by insect bites (13, 14).
You can use 10 drops of undiluted tea tree oil on any insect bites. This will suppress the growth of parasite and relieve the itching. To make a spray which can be used around the house, you will need about 40 drops of this essential and 2 cups of water. Combine both the ingredients in a spray bottle and use wherever you think is necessary.
7. Wonder Beeswax Candle
Candles that are made with beeswax include various all-natural mosquito repellent essential oils. While beeswax itself doesn’t repel mosquitoes, it has an anti-parasitic action which aids the essential oils to work. You can mix and match different essential oils to make your own combination. Here we have used lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil and cedar essential oil (15). These oils have proven to be excellent in chasing away the mosquitoes.
To make a candle that you can light in your home and make your home free of mosquitoes, you will need 2-3 drops of each of these oils and ½ a pound beeswax cut up into small pieces. Melt the beeswax in a stainless steel container placed on a double boiler. Soak the wick in the melted beeswax and leave it to dry on the parchment paper. Remove the wax from the flame and put the essential oils before pouring it in the jar you want to make the candle. Don’t forget to place the wick in the jar before pouring the melted wax. Place a stick across the jar’s opening and tie the wick on it, so it doesn’t move while the wax is still in a liquid state. Once the wax is melted, place the candle in your room and light it up to see the mosquitoes leaving.
8. Lemon grass Spray And Plant
Lemongrass is a very widely used herb around the world, and if you love it, half your problems related to mosquitoes are already solved. Lemongrass has shown strong mosquito repelling activity in the studies conducted. It was found that lemongrass repels mosquitoes alone, and in combination with other essential oils. Geranial and Neral are the two main components of the lemongrass essential oil which repel mosquitoes. This essential oil is also used in commercial products which aim at driving away the mosquitoes (16).
You can use the lemon grassplant in your garden among other insect repelling plants to make mosquitoes stay away from your garden, or you can use essential oil to make a spray. You will need 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil and 2 cups of water. Mix these in a spray bottle and spray on your skin to keep mosquitoes away.
9. Lavender And Vanilla Spray
Both of these can be used separately to make a useful homemade natural mosquito repellent, but using them together makes the spray all the more powerful and performs both the functions of killing the adult mosquitoes and larvae. Vanillin is the main component in vanilla which is used to repel mosquitoes and probably kill them which was found out in a recent study. Studies have also found that adding vanillin to commercial mosquito sprays increased the efficacy of the product (17). Victoria’s Secret Bombshell has shown mosquito repelling activity, and one of its main ingredients is vanilla (18). The first time Lavender was used by someone was in 77AD which makes lavender the oldest and a very effective plant to repel mosquitoes. Lavender is also used in various beauty products and calming agents to induce sleep apart from its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory activity (19, 20).
For this recipe of natural mosquito repellent for yard, you will need 10 drops of vanilla extract and 10 drops of lavender essential oil added in 14 ounces of vodka and half a teaspoon unflavored vodka. Mix all these ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix all the ingredients and spray away.
10. Peppermint And Basil Oil Spray
Both of these essential oils have excellent mosquito repelling properties and have been tested toxic for mosquitoes while being totally safe for humans. The effect of 100% protection lasts for about an hour, and after that, it starts reducing. This is the case with all the natural and organic ways to treat mosquitoes, but at least you are far away from any chemicals which are present in abundance in commercial products (21, 22, 23).
You will need 20-25 drops of each essential oil, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dish soap and 4 cups vinegar. Mix all these ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before spraying.
11. Cinnamon Spray
It was seen in a study that cinnamon essential oil has a confirmed 100% killing action on mosquito larvae. It was also found out that this method worked better than citric acid and vinegar, and took lesser time. 15% cinnamon solution killed 15 larvae in only 6 hours (24, 25). So, if you want to kill the mosquitoes fast and naturally, this is the spray you are looking for. The natural mosquito repellent recipe with cinnamon will require only cinnamon oil and water. Just pour both these ingredients in a spray bottle and shake the bottle well. Spray wherever you want as it is safe and smells like cinnamon, and who doesn’t like cinnamon?
12. Cypress Essential Oil Spray
You must have heard of DEET whenever the discussion on killing mosquitoes occur, and must have wondered its disadvantages because at the end of the day it is a chemical, and chemicals are not good for your health. If someone told you there is an essential oil which works as good as DEET and doesn’t have any harmful effects on your health, would you believe them? Well, its actually true Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) essential oil works as good as DEET and it is also a lot safer (26).
Shut all the windows and doors before sundown, because this is when mosquitoes look for bright places to move to, like our houses. In a spray bottle, pour 4 fluid ounces of water and 25-30 drops of cypress essential oil. Shake the bottle well and use it wherever necessary.
13. Wonder Oil
You can make your own natural mosquito repellent which you can apply on the skin with the combination of three oils, soybean oil, coconut oil, geranium oil (27). A commercial product with this combination is available with this combination, named Bite Blocker. But you don’t need to worry about looking for it, you can make this natural mosquito repellent for skin at your home without adding any chemicals which might be present in the commercial product. This product has been proven to be very great and successful to prevent mosquito bites. This combination is considered safe to be used for babies and pregnant women (28).
To make this natural mosquito repellent for babies, add 2 parts soybean oil and 1 part of coconut and geranium oil, each in a small bottle and shake well, so all the oils mix properly. Apply on the skin whenever you are outside camping or in an area with a lot of mosquitoes.
14. Pine Oil
Looking for biodegradable and chemical free ways to naturally repel mosquitoes but sprays are ineffective because you are camping in the woods? Why not carry some pine oil for 100% protection. Pinus longifolia, commonly known as pine is a deciduous tree. Its oil has been used traditionally for several decades for protection against mosquitoes. It has been proven that pine oil gives 100% protection against malaria-causing mosquitoes for 11 hours, and 97% protection against West Nile fever causing mosquitoes for 9 hours. This means that it is one of the most important things to carry while camping (29, 30).
In a 4 oz spray bottle, add 2 oz of water and 1 oz of unflavored vodka. Put 30-40 drops of pine essential oil in it and shake vigorously to mix all the ingredients before spraying on your skin. This will not only keep the mosquitoes away for a long time but also keep you smelling woody fresh.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you buy something to use in the kitchen and you find out that it can be used somewhere else? In this case, it is for repelling mosquitoes. Rosemary’s lethal, larvicidal effects have been proven in laboratory tests against all larval stages of the Aedes mosquito (31).
The ways in which rosemary can repel mosquitoes are varied. You can plant rosemary in your garden or near your main door to keep the mosquitoes away, or you can make rosemary infused oil to make a repellent that can be topically applied. You will require 200ml of skincare oil like grape seed oil and 200gms of rosemary herb. Rub rosemary with your hands and put in a container with the oil. Let the oil sit for 15 days and shake it once a day to mix the contents.
Strain this oil and store in small bottles to apply on the skin.
Also known as Azadirachta indica, Neem is a tree which is very prominent in India. It has been used for centuries because of its medicinal and therapeutic properties. The seed of Neem can contain 99 biologically active compounds. The major molecules are azadirachtin, nimbin, nimbidin and nimbolide. Neem was studied at different concentrations against different mosquitoes, and it was found that their larvicidal activity was very high and they provided almost 100% protection against some mosquitoes and comparatively less against other. It is an Eco-friendly larvicide, and it can be used as an alternative for malaria control (32).
Neem oil can be mixed with coconut oil for topical protection against mosquitoes, especially anopheles which causes malaria, as it has shown the best effect against this type of mosquito (33).
17. Dry Ice
Carbon dioxide, which we exhale, attracts mosquitoes. If there were a way to trap mosquitoes in a box with carbon dioxide to attract them, it would help a lot. This is when the dry ice comes to the rescue. It emits CO2 which can attract the mosquitoes and help us trap them. You can prepare your own mosquito dry ice trap with the help of just a box and some dry ice (34, 35).
Dry ice will simulate the exhaling action of humans and other mammals which will attract the mosquitoes because they are drawn towards CO2 by confusing the mosquitoes. Just put some dry ice in a box and keep the lid handy because you will need it later. Keep this box near a window in your house and wait for some time for mosquitoes to accumulate there. Put on the lid to trap them, and let them die before you open the lid. Repeat the process whenever you see a lot of mosquitoes around.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drink in the world. Every country drinks coffee, so this method can be used around the world as there is hardly any place where coffee is not available. Coffee contains 1000 chemical compounds which become 1950 after roasting, a lot of which are toxic and have shown various adverse effects on insects, rodents, and other animals. Coffea plants are naturally resistant to insects including mosquitoes and roasting the beans has produced compounds mutagenic to bacteria. Instead of using coffee beans, it will be more economical if you use coffee waste for repelling mosquitoes. The used ground beans can be equally effective on the mosquitoes as the unused ones (36).
Make a black coffee out of the used coffee beans and pour it in a spray bottle after cooling it down. Spray it in areas where you see mosquitoes. You can also sprinkle used coffee grounds in the corners and in your garden to repel mosquitoes.
Vetiveria zizanioides, commonly known as vetiver, is a bunchgrass of Poaceae family native to Western and Northern India. It is very similar to lemongrass, citronella, and palmarosa with respect to its fragrance, appearance, and properties. It is a natural pesticide used in fields to protect plants. The essential oil obtained from vetiver is very helpful and has been proven as a successful mosquito deterrent, and it will also make your house smell fresh. You can buy this essential oil online or from a nearby store in the herbs section (37).
If you have a diffuser in the house, your problem can be solved very easily. Just put a couple of drops of vetiver essential oil in the diffuser and let it do its work. If you don’t have a diffuser, just make a solution with 30 drops of this oil and 2 cups of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray in the corners, around the garbage, damp areas and areas, where water usually gets accumulated.
Camphor is a flammable, odorless, white colored substance that can be found in powdered form or the form of small blocks. Camphor oil is a colorless liquid substance with similar properties as camphor (38, 39). 67% of the 120 households surveyed used fresh or smoked O. kilimandscharicum (OK) and O. suave (OS) for repelling mosquitoes in the night, the main component of both is camphor. Camphor consists of various terpenoids of functional groups pulegone (ketone), linalool (alcohol) and 1,8-cineole (ether) which act against the mosquitoes by occupying the hydrophobic sites of the enzymes active center. The most important out these is linalool which has been linked with the mortality of insects (40).
You can either use OK or OS in your house, burning the leaves in the night outside the house has been successful. If you can buy camphor at a nearby store, you can burn it instead of the leaves, as this will have a better effect. Smoke inside the house doesn’t sound like a very good idea, so camphor oil works best. In your diffuser, add some drops of camphor oil and let it do its job. Mixing other mosquito repelling essential oils mentioned above can increase the efficacy and provide fragrance.
What To Do If A Mosquito Bites You?
Some mosquitoes enter the house from some or the other opening and when we are careless about their prevention. If you experience a mosquito bite, you may want to consider the following remedies to ease the pain, itching, swelling, etc:
- Baking Soda: This works for almost all insect bites. Just mix some baking soda with water to make a paste and apply it to the bite and the area around it to calm the swelling and itching (41).
NOTE: Do not apply this paste on open wounds.
- Peppermint Oil: Apply a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil on the bite at least 2-3 times a day to reduce the swelling and redness (42).
- Meat Tenderizer: Make a paste with meat tenderizer and water and apply it on the bug bite, this neutralizes the effects of any harmful enzymes present in the mosquito’s saliva (43).
- Ice Pack: Apply an ice pack or a cool, moist cloth on the bite if there is swelling, this will reduce the swelling and the chance of an infection (44).
- If you are out of all of the above, just apply any lotion, cream or paste like calamine lotion or nonprescription hydrocortisone cream (45).
- Repair any tears in the screens of your doors and windows (46).
- Use mosquito netting over strollers and cribs whenever outdoor (47).
- Wear long sleeves, trousers, socks, closed toe shoes, and a hat which protects your ears when you go out (48).
- Unclog roof gutters and drain your fire pit if water collects there (49).
- Empty children’s wading pool as often as possible, at least once a week (50).
- Use sodium lamps, yellow bug lights and LED lights to attract fewer mosquitoes, as they are attracted to other light sources like CFL, Fluorescent tubes, light bulbs, etc (51).
- When sitting on your porch or deck, switch on the fan, this can make a world of difference (52).
- Avoid outdoor activities from dusk to dawn because that’s when the mosquitoes are the most active (53).
- Don’t use lemon eucalyptus on children under the age of 3 years (54).
- Do not use repellents under clothing (55).
- Avoid using DEET as much as possible (56).
- Don’t let old tires sit in your backyard (57).
- Do not let garbage accumulate, especially in the open. Keep all the dustbins, and trash cans tightly closed and dump the garbage regularly.
Whatever you do, the basic rule to prevent mosquito growth in and around your house is not letting water and garbage accumulate which promotes the growth of mosquitoes. These home treatments will keep you safe from the mosquitoes in your house and even when you are out, camping with friends and family. Most people are not aware of so many home remedies for mosquito control. Once you have used these successfully, you can recommend the ones you found best to your friends and family because helping our dear ones and keeping them safe and healthy is the ultimate goal.
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