Friday, June 24, 2005

Mosquito Repellents and Deterrents

Word has it that this is the worst summer in a long time for mosquitoes. I guess I should say it's a very good year for mosquitoes and a bad year for humans and other warm-blooded mammals. It's also a good year for swallows and other flying insectivores, including dragonflies. "Dragonfly naiads consume mosquito larvae in the breeding waters, and adult dragonflies eat adult mosquitoes." (Wikipedia). Which brings me to the helpful part of this post:
[Updated version here]

Mosquito Deterrents: This is the best information I could find. I certainly haven't tested all of these recommendations so use your own judgement and feel free to let me know directly, or as a comment below, what your experience or knowledge is.

NOTE: It is generally agreed that for most reliable protection, (e.g. where West Nile Fever is a risk) the best product is DEET. Note that DEET can damage synthetic fabrics and there are questions about its effect on the human body. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that repellents used on children contain no more than 10% DEET - and not at all on children under two months. Lotions can be applied more effectively than sprays. Don't use with sunscreen because DEET should not be re-applied. Wash off after use.

A. On/in your body:

  1. Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride 100 mg): 1 tablet a day.
  2. No bananas: They make your body odour more attractive to the little ladies (yes, remember it's the females that bite).
  3. Clothing: Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants
  4. Oil of eucalyptus: at 30% concentration prevents mosquito bites for about 2 hours (New England Journal of Medicine)
  5. Garlic juice: Mix 1 part garlic juice with 5 parts water in a small spray bottle. Shake well before using. Spray lightly on exposed body parts. Lasts 5 - 6 hours (or as long as your friends can stand you).

B. In/around the home:

  1. A fan or gentle breeze: Mosquitoes don't like moving air
  2. Strips of cotton cloth dipped in garlic mixture (see above): and hung in areas, such as patios, as a localized deterrent.
  3. Sage or rosemary: on the barbecue coals
  4. Herbs (When the leaves are crushed): wormwood, lemon grass, lemon thyme, pelargonium and citronella.
  5. Mosquito nets: Not a common site in Canada but, properly used, are very effective and (in the long run) cheap.
  6. Bat houses and swallow nesting boxes: They have to eat a lot though as mosquitoes make up less than 3% of a swallow's diet and less than 1% for a bat. (Christian Back, medical entomologist)
  7. Standing water: Remove where possible, and change pets' dirinking water and birdbaths frequently.
  8. Incense and coils: only use coils outdoors (e.g. not in tents) and regular incense indoors.
  9. Shepherd's Purse: In the early spring, sprinkle the seed on water where mosquitoes breed. The mucilage of the seed will kill the larvae and greatly reduce mosquitoes in the area. One pound of seeds destroys ten million larvae, though it may cause a proliferation of shepherd s purse! (Dr Terry Willard, Wild Rose College of Natural Healing)


Unknown said...

Wow--excellent advice, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering about Vitamin B1 in prevention. I was swarmed a few weeks ago in Louisiana. I was the buffet and the two people with me had no bites. I had 17!
I need to figure something out as we are moving ther!

Jeffrey Newman said...

Good luck with the move, Sparker. If it's any consolation, around here (central BC) they say that one begins to build up an immunity to the bites: after a season or two: either you don't get bitten as much or the bites don't itch as much. I can't prove anything but that's been something of my experience. Hopefully, that will be your's too. In the deep woods though, all bets are off. There, your 17 bites would be a dream-come-true. In those extreme mosquito situations, even the most naturally-inclined of my friends reach for the DEET.

XABRIA said...

We moved to Saskatchewan June 2007, orig. from BC & I have never in my life been eaten alive, like I was here. I was 6 mths pregnant at the time and after 15 min's outside i had over 52 bites, my son had 30+ and my husband (of french cdn origin) had none. With 3 little kids, we don't like to use chemicals, like Deet - so we'll try these suggestions. Are there any mosquito-unfriendly plants we could plant around our entrances, does anyone know?

Unknown said...


Not sure validity of this but it worked for me.

i liked to leave my bedroom window open at night but i was getting a load of bites so i got a wooden frog statue thingy (fearsome looking yoke) and put it on the sill and havent been bitten since.

Anonymous said...

I believe the garlic one will work. I have tried several different brands of sprays around my yard and the one that seemed to work best was the natural spray with 3% garlic in it...but oh my does it smell! I sprayed it in the evening, according to directions, and the next day there were literally hundreds of dead mosquitoes on the patio deck. I think I'll try soaking rags in the spray and hanging them up...but first some old fashion clothes pegs for my noes!!