Grow Safe, Natural Mosquito Repellents

These natural mosquito repellents, such as mosquito-repellent plants and homemade mosquito traps, will help you have a less buggy summer.

| June/July 2012

Summertime, and the living is ... too mosquitoey and itchy? It’s a common complaint. And mosquitoes are not only a nuisance — they can also spread West Nile virus.

Wearing loose, light-colored pants and long-sleeved cotton shirts is helpful in fending off mosquitoes. On particularly muggy and buggy days, you can wear a head net, though sometimes that’s more than one can bear.

For many people, the solution is to reach for a DEET-based repellent before venturing outdoors. DEET has been around for more than 50 years, and the Environmental Protection Agency has assured us this chemical is safe if “used as directed.” DEET has been the standard against which all other repellents are measured — but is it really safe?

A 2001 review of 17 cases of suspected DEET toxicity in children concluded that “Repellents containing DEET are not safe when applied to children’s skin and should be avoided in children. Additionally, since the potential toxicity of DEET is high, less toxic preparations should be substituted for DEET-containing repellents, whenever possible.” In 2009, a French study reported that “Excessive doses of DEET could be toxic to humans and could cause severe seizures and lethality when combined with other active ingredients, such as pesticides.” The French researchers (read their full report at BMC Biology) studied DEET’s effects on insect, mouse and human proteins and showed that the chemical disrupted the action of acetylcholinesterase, a key enzyme in the central nervous system of insects and mammals — including humans.

The thought of slathering on a neurotoxin scares many of us, so the editors at MOTHER EARTH NEWS and I explored the research on natural mosquito repellents (there is a ton of it!) and put together this report on natural alternatives to DEET. To make our list of effective, nontoxic options, a natural mosquito repellent had to meet two requirements:

1) The material(s) involved needs to be “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), and be nonhazardous to people, pets and other non-mosquito living beings.

7/28/2014 6:42:56 PM

Other mosquito repellant tips: Cutting long grasses, most definitely and adding plants such as lemon balm, clary sage and red thyme may help. Landscaping Ideas Gallery:

7/22/2014 4:53:43 PM

I am asking jvandix to reread the instructions for the mosquito trap. "Drill or punch several 1/16 inch holes in the container lid (the small holes will let mosquitoes in while excluding beneficial insects such as bees)." Mother Earth News is concerned about bees.

7/12/2014 9:18:13 AM

Mosquito control opens a wide range of techniques. We all know the basics. I had the same problem a few years ago. Mosquitos living, hatching and thriving in wet grass. It was mowed short, good drainage, nothing worked. All approaches were considered. The solution was so simple, cheap, effective, good for grass and lasted a few years. I called the farm supply to have LIME applied 2 tons / acre. The mosquito problem was gone. I had the same problem at home in the suburbs, went to the local hardware and bought 40# bags of LIME, applied it and had the same positive results.

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