With summer comes mosquitoes and our desire to keep them away from us. The most common repellents are based on the chemical DEET, which unfortunately has been found to have several health and safety problems. Up to 15% of DEET is absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream. Diethyl-meta-toluamide, the chemical name for DEET, has been shown to have a variety of toxic effects. Fortunately, it turns out that there are some natural alternatives which may be as effective as DEET, or possibly even more effective than DEET in keeping mosquitoes away from us.
One such natural repellent is catnip, whose essential oil is about 10 times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. You may have to deal with driving your cats crazy, but it beats being bitten by mosquitoes.
Citronella is another natural alternative. Be aware that you shouldn’t use the oils burned in lamps on your skin. However, many natural food stores sell citronella essential oil that is safe to use on yourself.
Lavender essential oil works well as does organic soy oil. Another natural repellent is neem oil, which comes from a shade tree native to India and Burma. Neem oil has also been found to be more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes.
Other natural repellents include lotus – which is a good option for repelling mosquitoes from backyard ponds and fountains – and black pepper.
Several of these substances have attractive odors and are even good for one’s skin. So this summer, when you are trying to keep from being eaten alive by mosquitoes, you might consider some of these natural alternatives to potentially harmful chemicals.
Photo, posted July 28, 2015, courtesy of Gula08 via Flickr.
‘Natural Mosquito Repellents’ from Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.