I am back from Puerto Rico and I am covered with mosquito bites. I swear I didn’t even see them on me! Mosquitoes in Puerto Rico must be extra sneaky. I did have some bug repellent, but it didn’t seem to work very well. I stopped using it after awhile because I read that DEET–a chemical compound that is in most mosquito repellents–kills the little critters that cause bioluminescence in Puerto Rico, and I didn’t want to add to that. Also the bug stuff washed right off me anyway, so it was useless after I went in the water.
Today, with mosquitoes on my mind, I looked up homemade mosquito repellents on Google. Wow are there are a lot of them. Apparently everything from parsley to green tea to wearing neon-colored clothes repel mosquitoes. So either mosquitoes are the easiest bugs in the world to fool or there are a load of urban myths surrounding homemade mosquito repellents.
After sorting through these remedies, I found a few that look to me to be the most likely to work. Here are a few:
- American Beautyberry. Scientists have confirmed that American beautyberry works against mosquitoes. Apparently people have long crushed leaves of the plant and rubbed it on their skin to scare the little buggers off. The plant grows in the South, which is also where they have a lot of mosquitoes. Interesting how that works out.
Catnip. Iowa State University scientists found catnip works 10 times better at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Crazy! I saw a lot of ways to make your own repellent with it, but I see no reason you can’t crush the leaves and combine with vinegar/alcohol in a spray container for an easy homemade repellent. Or you can steep 3 cups of the herb in water for a week and then spray that on your skin. Your cats will love you for it.
Citronella Grass. This is the same plant that is used in the candles and oil lamps stores sell to repel mosquitoes, so it would also work on the skin. It’s a tropical plant, so needs a lot of sun and little cold to grow, however it does pretty well in warmer climates.
Rosemary. I wasn’t able to confirm this 100 percent, but it looks like rosemary is a good bet against mosquitoes. At least it comes up consistently as a repellent in the same sources that mention the above three options. To try it, boil a bunch of it in water and spray it on the skin (after it cools of course). Rosemary is a great herb to grow anyway.
Other remedies I am less sure about include: eucalyptus oil, lemon verbena, vanilla extract, and lavender. Since I would rather put lavender on my skin than catnip oil, I like this idea, but I’m a little skeptical it would work. But who knows?
What has worked for you?