Say Goodbye to Bug Bites- Naturally

Say Goodbye to Bug Bites- Naturally

Tis the season for…mosquito bites! The weather is warming up, and we’re all itching to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. But everywhere we turn, crunchy community members are looking for the answer to this one question:

What can I do to keep mosquitoes and ticks away from me and my family naturally? 

There are many reasons to avoid commercial insect repellents, from harmful effects on pets to cognitive effects on humans as a result of DEET (just to name a few).  

There is plenty of conflicting research out there about the effectiveness of natural bug repellent. Is this lack of knowledge due to the idea that natural products can’t solve this problem or due to the fact that people were previously unaware and unconcerned with the amount of harmful chemicals they put on their bodies? 

We combed the internet reading research articles, blogs, forums…the truth? 

There’s not one perfect natural product that will work universally to prevent bug bites for everyone, but it doesn’t mean all-natural bug-repellent tactics are a lost cause. This is a case where trial-and-error (or better yet, a combination of all the methods) is worth it.

Here is our holistic approach, which includes how to set up your outdoor space and prepare you and your family so you can enjoy those pleasant summer evenings minus pesky bug bites

Prime Your Environment 

We know things like tall grass, standing water, and messy yards filled with leaves or branches attract mosquitoes and allow them to establish breeding grounds, but what about things that act as natural mosquito repellents? Here are some ways to set up your outdoor environment to ward off mosquitoes. 

Plants

Many types of plants act as natural mosquito repellents. While one single potted plant may not have much impact, adding a combination of many of these can make your yard less hospitable. The bonus is that most of these plants can be found in your very own herb garden, which makes them both delicious and useful.  

Consider these plants when looking for natural mosquito repellents

Basil, mint, lavender, rosemary, thyme, catnip, marigolds, and lemongrass


Installing Mosquito Dunks

Mosquito dunks contain the bacteria Bti, which acts as an insecticide that only targets mosquitoes. Additionally, they do not kill existing mosquitoes but instead act as a way to regulate mosquito populations and prevent further breeding by preventing mosquito development. This spells good news for your garden bees, butterflies, and ladybugs who are still free to buzz along on their merry way.

We would never recommend using any chemical or product that is potentially harmful to humans or wildlife. We only suggest the commercially available mosquito dunks because they are considered eco-friendly by the National Institute of Health as being safe for both humans and wildlife, and an added benefit, mosquito dunks can be placed far from your home and still have an impact on cutting down on mosquito populations. 

 

Burning Coffee Grounds 

It may sound like an old-wives-tale, but there’s some truth to the idea of burning coffee grounds as an effective insect repellent. Even the EPA recognizes burning coffee grounds as a safe way to keep pests like mosquitoes away. 

The same smell that gives us a morning burst of energy is the same scent that keeps mosquitoes at bay. Whether it’s from the caffeine, odor, or smoke itself, burning coffee grounds is a safe alternative to using DEET foggers and pesticides. 

There is one caveat: burning coffee has a smaller radius than toxic mosquito repellents, something you’ll need to consider when placing your burning coffee stations. 


Fans

This may seem like a simple solution, but it’s often the simple solutions that work best. Utilizing outdoor fans may not curb mosquito populations, but mosquitoes are weak flyers. If they can’t fly to you, they can’t bite you! There’s no questioning that logic. 

Using fans in conjunction with the other environment setup tips is a great way to take a first stand against hungry mosquitoes. 


Arm Yourself and Your Clothes Against Mosquitoes

As we mentioned earlier, there’s not one single natural product that prevents mosquitoes. Staying bite-free requires a more holistic approach, and that includes prepping your skin and clothes in addition to your environment. Find some of the best ways we’ve researched to naturally repel mosquitoes.

Your Garden to the Rescue

Remember those plants we mentioned before? They can come in handy again. Rubbing certain leaves - like basil or rosemary - on your ankles and pulse points, the same places you might apply perfume, can help prevent mosquitoes from landing on your skin long enough to bite. 

If you’re feeling like arming yourself even more effectively, you may consider placing some sprigs or leaves right into your pocket!

 

Vanilla Extract as a Natural Mosquito Repellent

People have a love-hate relationship with vanilla extract as a natural mosquito repellent, and that’s because everyone reacts differently.

Of those who swear by this method, they claim it works perfectly. We’re sensing a trend of potent scents warding off mosquitoes, and we’re thankful that of all the different substances that could naturally deter mosquitoes, vanilla has one of the most pleasant scents of them all.  

 

Essential Oils 

Essential oils have received a bad reputation as insect repellents, but we see the unfair hand they’ve been dealt. Multiple sources have claimed essential oils are not as effective as DEET products, which is true. But it’s not entirely fair to compare natural products with synthetic chemicals - a real apples-to-oranges comparison.

Since essential oils are naturally derived substances, their longevity is not nearly as long as synthetically established DEET products. If you’re diligent about reapplication, you may have different, more effective results. 

Some of the most widely accepted essential oils to use as natural insect repellents are witch hazel, eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, and peppermint.

*If you choose to make your own blend of essential oils, note that they should NOT be used on children. Even for adults, essential oils should be diluted for safety; quality essential oils should have this information included on the label. Spraying clothes can be effective in keeping the bugs out of your vicinity. 

After Bite Care

Even with all the precautions, getting some mosquito bites over the summer is inevitable. 

If you or a family member has hypersensitivity to mosquito bites, we recommend using a soothing substance like aloe or a cooling topical salve to reduce swelling, itchiness, or inflammation.

 

Written by Francesca on behalf of Bend Soap
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