By Dr. Jennifer Escarcega |
Summertime is almost here, and with the return of warm weather comes the return of mosquitoes. With the emergence of the Zika virus, mosquitoes have become public enemy No. 1, and repelling mosquitoes is now more important than ever. Many mosquito repellents on the market contain active ingredients such as DEET, which can cause serious side effects, including, but not limited to, memory loss, headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting. Instead of reaching for a can of repellent that contains harmful ingredients, try these natural mosquito repellents instead.
Natural Mosquito Repellents
Citronella Essential Oil: This oil is extracted from the citronella plant, a grass that grows most commonly in the South Pacific. Try to find a therapeutic grade oil, as the diluted or synthetic versions may not work as well.
Lavender Oil: Lavender oil has been used as a bug repellent for centuries, and has also been used to protect clothing from moths and other insect infestation. It is recommended that you mix lavender oil with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, so it does not irritate the skin.
Rosemary Oil: Not only does rosemary smell amazing, it is a great mosquito repellent. Rosemary is often found in some of the natural bug repellents that are available on the market.
Cedar Bark Oil: Cedar Bark oil is derived from the wood, foliage, and roots of cypress or pine trees. Like Rosemary Oil, Cedar Bark Oil is often found in some all-natural bug repellents as well.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil: This oil is derived from the Eucalyptus citriodora tree and contains a compound that repels mosquitoes.
Thiamine and Garlic: Taking more vitamin B1 than your body requires will cause the excess Thiamine to be excreted through your urine, sweat, and skin. Vitamin B1 produces an odor that while undetectable to humans, repels female mosquitoes. Garlic works in much the same way, though consuming too much garlic may repel more than just mosquitoes!
Showering daily: It was once thought that mosquitoes were attracted to human sweat, but science has proven that mosquitoes are actually drawn to people by the chemical changes that are produced by the bacteria in sweat. Sweat itself is odorless until the bacteria that are present start to multiply. When this happens, the pH of sweat goes from acidic to alkaline. So although mosquitoes are not attracted to fresh sweat, if you offer them some “fermented sweat” they will be all over you.
Plant marigolds: Marigolds give off a fragrance that mosquitoes and many other bugs dislike. Another option is to invest in a bat house, as bats have a voracious appetite, especially for mosquitoes. You can purchase bat houses at your local hardware store or download directions online and build one yourself.
Naturally the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to prevent coming into contact with them in the first place. Mosquitoes are most active between dusk to dawn, and are more common in areas of shade and moisture, such as around standing water. Avoid being outdoors after dark and make sure to empty any sources of standing water on your property such as pet bowls, bird baths, gutters and recycling bins. If you do go out after dark, make sure to wear light colored, loose fitting clothing. Long sleeved shirts and pants are best, as are closed- toed shoes and socks.
With a little planning and preparation you can enjoy the outdoors all summer long without getting eaten alive.
Dr. Jennifer Escarcega is a chiropractor who has been serving Wilmington and the surrounding area since 2010. Dr. Jen is a graduate of Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC, and Sherman College of Chiropractic in Boiling Springs, SC. In her free time, Dr. Jen enjoys diving and serving with Baptist Medical & Dental Missionaries International in Nicaragua.