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6/03/2013

Natural Mosquito Repellants

Lemon Balm or Citronella is very effective
 
 
I am sensitive to mosquitoes. My children are allergic. It is mosquito season in Orange County, California and we like to hike in the local canyons, spend time at Newport Beach and in our backyard.  These tips are all natural and do not use any chemicals or poisons.
 
First and most important is don't leave standing water in fountains, ponds, dog bowls, old tires, etc.  If you have a small pond - stock it with gold fish, or mosquito fish (supplied  through our local Orange County Vector Control or often shared for free at garden suppliers like Plant Depot).
 
Wear light colored clothing that covers .
 
Mosquitoes don't like wind, a fan can help. Also make certain your screens are in good repair. Vents to the home can allow these pests into the walls. They are attracted to the CO2 in our breath.  Screen up the vents.
 
Electronic bug zappers have been proven to  be ineffective, they actually kill more beneficial bugs than the mosquitoes. There are bug zappers that put out CO2, and these kill about fifteen percent of the pests, BUT they are expensive and last about one season. Ultrasonic ones also are proven to be mostly useless. 
 
However here are some recipes for natural bug repellents. I suggest you plant any of these plants in your yard and in pots. All will grow without fertilizer or bug spray in California gardens. Do not treat the plants with chemicals, as you will want to crush some leaves on your exposed skin or use for cooking,
 
 
 

Catnip smells nasty to mosquitoes, gnats and flies. Nepeta cateria, is very easy to grow and more effective than the chemical most often used (Deet). The growth habit is similar to mint and will spread. I no longer have a cat, but she used to sleep on top of the pot with this plant with that glassy eyed look. I learned to plant it directly in the ground and just let her go crazy, the plant seemed to always return.
 

My front yard - lavender, lemon balm, rose geranium, coriander, pelagonium, penny royal, ageratum, and bee balm all repel mosquitoes (also aphids, and gnats but provide food and fun for bees and butterflies of many sorts). 

 

Nasty guy

My side yard peppermint, and the marigolds are gone - I don't have great luck with marigolds.
 Lemon verbena, and rosemary also have some repellant properties.
Many of my "mosquito enemy  plants" are herbs used for cooking or just smell lovely to brush against in the garden

 

Backyard pelagonium growing like a weed, need to hack it back and rose geranium
 


Lemon Thyme and regular thyme in my yard also act to scare the critters away.

You may of course purchase these as herbal oils and mix them with apple cider vinegar.

I also suggest you create castile soap with lavender oil, citronella oil and rose oil ( add a four drops of each into an 8 ounce bottle to use to wash your body. Also you can add the oils to inexpensive bubble bath, your rinse cycle of your washing machine, dog collars to keep your pets comfortable, and the cuffs of pants and long sleeves.

I have read that drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, eating garlic and vitamin B-1 will change the smell of your breath and skin to be less attractive to mosquitoes who are out hunting around water at dusk.

The though makes me itchy just writing about them.  Enjoy the outdoors,  and your home without chemicals... Being green is good, come on over to my garden

Ageratum Houstonian is very useful repellant to mosquitoes. The plant secretes coumarin, the number one alternative to DEET in commercial mosquito repellents.
Do not use this on your skin, if you are allergic to any plants.