“Zzzzzzzzz” if this is the aggravating sound that’s buzzing around your BBQ this summer (like it was mine), it’s time to get out the mosquito repellent. In the past I just wanted to be rid of the little vampires because they were irritating, left welts and the resulting “itching," but not so long ago my friend’s dad died from West Nile disease. Just miles from his home, West Nile left another friend’s mom with dementia. “Be Gone!” I say to the little blood suckers. Keep in mind that I live in Chicago, not the Amazon.
Last week, following days and days of Chicago spring rain, I found myself spraying just a little too much insect repellent around my deck. The moment the wind kicked up and blew the chemical mist back in my face I decided to check out some more natural options. Here’s what I found to save some money AND your health!
1.) Alcohol; Mix grain alcohol (or vodka or witch hazel) with a few drops of camphor, eucalyptus oil, cedar oils or lemon grass. You can put this into a sprayer and it’s safe for the air, people (external only) and the grass and trees. Stay away from spraying the grain alcohol on flowering plants.
2.) Garlic; it keeps vampires away right? Mix several cloves of fresh crushed garlic with some mineral oil and lemon juice. Mince the garlic cloves and put in the bottom of a small glass cup and cover them with mineral oil. Let it set overnight, then add two or three tablespoons of lemon juice. Add two cups of water. Mix and strain the mixture so it is clear enough to spray. (I keep what wouldn’t go through the strainer and sprinkle it on the grass around the deck.)
3.) Lavender; Lavender is a beautiful and fragrant flower that may be growing in your own back yard already. If not, it can be found at any shop that sells annuals and perennials. Lavender is a natural insect repellent. Crush the petals and apply as you would perfume—on pulse points. I am actually going to plant some flower boxes with lavender and put them around the deck, sort of like hanging ropes of garlic and crosses around your home in Transelvania! I also ran into some $1 bottles of lavender body splash at the Dollar General store and wore it to a cookout—the little blood thieves seemed to stay away!
4.) Olive oil; Mix two tablespoons of olive oil (or sunflower oil or cooking oil!) with 25 drops of any of the following: cinnamon oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil or caster oil! (caster oil repels me, why not mosquitos?) (Albertson’s, Jewel or Safeway generic oil works just as well as a Trader Joe’s specialty oil.)
5.) Beer; This is a recipe that my cousin uses and he swears it works, but don’t spray any on me—just around me if it works! You will need a can or so of flat beer—price is no object as cheap beer works fine. Some Epsom salts, mouthwash, cube of dry yeast. Mix together a cup each of Epsom salts, beer and mouthwash. Stir until dissolved. Pour mixture into a spray bottle and add half a cube or package of dry yeast. Shake it up and spray the lawn. You can do this every three weeks or so all mosquito season. (50 cent a can Bud Lite is just as effective as a $9.99 Dogfish!)
I’m gathering a list of natural insect repellents that are available commercially, but the “home remedies” above are pretty effective and just pennies per application or spray. Let me know if these are effective for you. If you have something different that is natural, inexpensive and WORKS please share with us!