Mosquitos are more than a nuisance they are a constant threat on the homestead. They can carry serious disease and many people are very reactive to them.
The science behind who they chose as victims and why is complicated. Some species are drawn to bacteria and sweat, others to hand odors and carbon dioxide.
While it is agreed in the medical community that DEET is effective at keeping them at bay it is also agreed that it is harmful to your health and environment. Many choose to turn to alternative, natural methods instead.
The most common and most studied natural methods are discussed here. You can use these in place of oils suggested in other online recipes. Keep in mind the amounts suggested here for safety concerns.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil – Even the CDC recommends Lemon Eucalyptus Oil to prevent bites from mosquitos. A 32% formulation provides 95% protection for about 3 hours, whereas a 40% formulation of DEET provides a 100% protection for 7 hours (Frances, Rigby, & Chow, 2014).
Lavender Oil – Animal studies on hairless mice discovered that lavender oil is effective at repelling adult mosquitoes (Choi, Park, Ku, & Lee, 2002). Lavender also has analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities. Which means that it not only prevents bites but can be soothing on your skin.
Cinnamon Oil – Suprisingly, cinnamon oil can also act as a repellent against mosquitoes. However, it must be used very sparingly as it can irritate the skin.
Thyme Oil – According to studies, thyme oil is one of the best oils at providing protection. In one such study, just 5 percent thyme applied to the skin of hairless mice produced a 91 percent rate of protection (Choi, Park, Ku, & Lee, 2002).
Tea Tree Oil – Tea Tree Oil has long been known oil for its antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, recent studies suggest that the oil may also be an effective insect repellent.
Greek Catnip Oil – Catnip, a member of the mint family, can repell mosquitoes. It’s the extract and oil extracted from the bruised leaves that is the most useful part. One study found that the oil can repel mosquitos for 2-3 hours (Gkinis, et al., 2014) and another group or researchers discovered that it could be 10 times more effective than DEET (American Chemical Society)! Just watch out for your house cats!
American Chemical Society. (2001, August 28). Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010828075659.htm
Choi, W.-S., Park, B.-S., Ku, S.-K., & Lee, S.-E. (2002, December). Repellent activities of essential oils and monoterpenes against Culex pipiens pallens. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12542193.
Frances, S. P., Rigby, L. M., & Chow, W. K. (2014). Comparative Laboratory and Field Evaluation of Repellent Formulations Containing Deet and Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Against Mosquitoes in Queensland, Australia1. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 30(1), 65–67. doi: 10.2987/13-6366.1
Gkinis, G., Michaelakis, A., Koliopoulos, G., Ioannou, E., Tzakou, O., & Roussis, V. (2014). Evaluation of the repellent effects of Nepeta parnassica extract, essential oil, and its major nepetalactone metabolite against mosquitoes. Parasitology Research, 113(3), 1127–1134. doi: 10.1007/s00436-013-3750-3
Greive, K. A., Staton, J. A., Miller, P. F., Peters, B. A., & Oppenheim, V. M. J. (2010). Development ofMelaleucaoils as effective natural-based personal insect repellents. Australian Journal of Entomology, 49(1), 40–48. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-6055.2009.00736.x