Photo (cc) by curtis palmer
Nothing will ruin your summer fun like mosquitoes. These pesky bugs are not only annoying, they can also be dangerous disease-spreaders as well. So it pays to keep them to a minimum. But that doesn’t mean spending a ton of money on things like electronic traps or slathering yourself with unpleasant, expensive and nasty sprays. Put mosquitoes out of your misery with these five simple and inexpensive steps.
First check out the following video news story I shot in my back yard, then meet me on the other side for more:
Step 1: Eliminate potential mosquito motels
Mosquitoes breed in standing water and are attracted to non-natural scents like scented candles – even garbage.
Look around your yard and get rid of any standing water – and yes, that includes your pet’s water dish. When they’re outside, fill it up. When they’re not, empty it. If you have a birdbath or a pond, try surrounding them with plants that mosquitoes aren’t fond of: rosemary, marigolds and lavender. If water collects in certain parts of your yard after a rain, see if you can improve your drainage by using a shovel to level the ground or encouraging run-off away from your house.
Make sure the lid on your garbage can fits snugly. Remove scented candles or anything else that emits a perfumed smell.
Step 2: Make yourself into a less appetizing meal
Mosquitoes are like humans in one respect: They like nice smells. Avoid attracting them by avoiding flowery or sweet perfumes, hair products and lotions. If you insist on wearing lotion, try to find something that contains lavender or rosemary oil as an ingredient, since those are scents mosquitoes don’t favor. If you’re wearing sunscreen, try adding a few drops of one of the following oils to it:
- Citronella oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Castor oil
Note, however, when reviewing the list above, that “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe.” You could be sensitive to plant oils, especially on your face, and some of the oils above could even be toxic. So while these oils may sound friendlier than deet and other synthetic chemicals, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use sparingly.
Step 3: Eat garlic
Turns out vampires aren’t the only bloodsuckers around that aren’t fond of garlic – mosquitoes hate it, too. So eat more garlic! If you hate garlic, no problem: Sprinkle minced garlic at three foot intervals around your porch and that will help keep mosquitoes away. Of course, store-bought garlic isn’t cheap, but you don’t have to pay for garlic if you grow your own. And it’s easy – here’s a web page that will help you do it.
Step 4: Blow some air around
Imagine what wind would feel like if you weighed a millionth of an ounce. Mosquitoes don’t like breezes, which is just fine, because we do. If you’ve got an outdoor room, use a ceiling fan. If you don’t have the overhead for a ceiling fan, get a cheap, stand-mounted reciprocating fan and turn it on when you’re outside. In addition to causing wind that mosquitoes hate, it also reduces your body heat and sweat, which they like.
While a fan isn’t free, you can get one nearly free at a yard sale.
Step 5: Make your own natural repellent
If all these steps aren’t enough and they’re still bugging you, try making your own natural mosquito repellent.
The idea is simply to mix one of any number of essential oils that mosquitoes hate (see list above in step 2) with a carrier fluid, like olive oil, other cooking oil or alcohol – even vodka would work. You want to mix 5-10 percent essential oil with 90-95 percent carrier oil. Again, be aware that this stuff can be potent, so use it sparingly and don’t apply it to sensitive areas.
Bottom line? Repelling mosquitoes doesn’t require expensive gadgets or dangerous chemicals. Like many over-priced household products from laundry soap (see Do-It-Yourself Laundry Detergent) to metal cleaners (see Household Products Vinegar Can Replace), it’s easy to combine simple ingredients with a little common sense to save yourself a lot of scratch.