You knew this would happen. As soon as the weather warmed up, they arrive in swarms, making you uncomfortable with their constant interference in everything that would ordinarily be so peaceful—picnics, outside parties, ball games and lakeside fun. As if their droning on and on wasn’t such a nuisance, their biting remarks irritate for days.
Of course, I’m talking about mosquitoes (come on, your in-laws aren’t THAT bad…)
We all know how effective DEET can be when it comes to deterring those pesky biters. However, if your goal is to reduce the chemicals in your family’s life, you do have some great options, as long as you know how they work and what their limitations are.
- Oil of Eucalyptus: The insect repellent version of Oil of Eucalyptus has been shown to protect against mosquitoes for up to two hours, when it will need to be reapplied, especially during prime mosquito times and environments. Do not apply to children under the age of three.
- Keep it moving: Mosquitoes have a difficult time maneuvering in the wind, so if you’re about to host a summer gathering, make sure to have plenty of air movers available, preferably ceiling or rotating fans.
- Get it all covered: Yes, we know, wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts isn’t ideal when the weather is hot and humid. Consider linen and lightweight cotton fabrics, and go as high-coverage as you are comfortable. Either way, you are limiting the amount of skin exposed to the repellent, weather you go natural or chemical. Mosquitoes need to see it to bite it, so keep your tasty skin under wraps and you’ll avoid the itch.
- Apply repellent to clothes when possible. Repellent, like perfume, can weaken and break down when combined with the oils in human skin. On top of maintaining the potency, spraying on clothing also keeps less of the repellent from touching your skin.
- Eliminate breeding grounds. While mosquitoes can travel to find you, if you eliminate standing water from around your yard, they will have to work just a little harder to increase their population. This means changing out birdbaths, filling low-lying puddles, and making sure your water is draining away from your home appropriately.
- Time it properly. Mosquitoes are most active between dawn and dusk, so plan accordingly, using the tips above) if you have an outing at either of those times.
Other natural methods, from rubbing basil leaves on your skin to soy-based spray products, have been found effective for some people, so give them a try to see if you and your family respond well to them. When deciding whether or not to use a chemical-based repellent, consider your general exposure risk (is it dusk? Muggy and breezeless? Near a lake?) and choose the appropriate method from there.