Warmer weather means reveling in outdoor activities like hiking, sunbathing, and barbeques. Along with these plusses comes one tiny nuisance: mosquitos. These pesky pests, which thrive in warm weather, can put a damper on anyoneâ€™s summer fun. But there are ways to deter mosquitos, so you can enjoy the sunshine.
â€œDEET is a product registered by the EPA [Environmental protection Agency], and poses no unreasonable risk,â€ Conlon says. â€œIf you use it judiciously there should be no problem â€” I mean, donâ€™t drink it.â€
But there are other ways to thwart mosquitoes if you donâ€™t want to use a synthetic repellent. In fact, according to the survey, 36 percent of people prefer to use natural repellents.
â€œThe results show that in the future, there wonâ€™t just be a marketplace for synthetic repellents, but for natural repellents as well,â€ says Immo Hansen, PhD, who worked on the survey.
When using natural repellents that are applied directly to the skin, itâ€™s important to use EPA registered ones and always check the labels, reminds Conlon. If you have sensitive skin or known skin allergies, itâ€™s a good idea to test your skin first by applying a small drop of essential oil on the inside of your forearm.
Here are 7 natural ways to prevent mosquito bites:
1. Lemon Eucalyptus
â€œIt is a very good repellent,â€ says Conlon. â€œJust do not use it on kids younger than three years old; it hasnâ€™t been approved for them.â€
Bonus: Lemon eucalyptus also helps relieve the symptoms of the common cold, like congestion and coughing.
2. Catnip Oil
What most people know about catnip is its effect on cats. But it can also be used as a culinary herb or smoked like a cigarette. And research shows that it can be used to repel mosquitos, too.
Yet this does not mean that catnip oil, which is acquired from catnip by steam distillation, will make you suddenly attractive to cats, according to Stephanie Maslow-Blackman, wellness advocate and essential oils instructor.
â€œThe difference between the oil and the plant is that when you extract the oil from the plant, the oil wonâ€™t have the side effects the plant might have. For example, if youâ€™re allergic to trees and use cedarwood oil, you wonâ€™t be experiencing an allergic reaction,â€ Maslow-Blackman says.
So if you want to have more cat friends, youâ€™ll have to find another way. But this oil is EPA-approved and will give you seven hours of protection from mosquitos, according to Conlon.
3. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is a natural insecticide and a mosquito repellent, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, based in Portland, Oregon. You can mix this oil with other scents, like lemon, and rub them onto your skin for a minty scent. But, Maslow-Blackman stresses, â€œPeppermint oil is a hot oil,â€ which means it can cause a warm sensation when applied directly to your skin and might cause a skin rash. To prevent this, she suggests diluting the peppermint oil with a carrier oil, like canola oil.
IR3535, a synthetic amino acid, is one of the most common active ingredients in insect repellents. Repellents containing IR3535 come mostly in cream form, and are available in most drugstores. The amino acid messes with the insects' sense of smell and is an excellent repellent, according to Conlon.
â€œIt has no toxicity and gives you eight hours of protection,â€ he says.
6. Use a Fan
David Shetlar, an Ohio State University professor of urban landscape entomology, told Cleveland.com that mosquitos are bad fliers. So if youâ€™re sitting outside on a summer day, bring an electric fan with you to keep the mosquitoes away.
7. Eliminate Standing Water
Any pools or puddles around your home or yard can quickly become a mosquito breeding ground, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tips to keep the area around your home free from these insects include:
- Unclogging roof gutters
- Emptying any kids' pools
- Changing the water in any bird baths weekly
- Making sure rain is not accumulating in trash can lids
- Storing flower pots or any other unused containers upside down
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