A week ago a mosquito bit the back of my leg. She drew so much blood and my leg swelled up so huge I think her long pokey nose got stuck inside me because when I saw her she was thrashing against my leg trying to get away but couldn't. So I smashed her. I have a lot of compassion for a lot of creatures but mosquitos and fleas didn't make the list. Especially since mosquitos in the Bay Area sometimes carry West Nile Virus.
Because I have very sensitive skin that breaks out easily and didn't want to use a commercial repellent I searched the internet and found this post on the Inhabitat website:
DIY: Homemade Insect Repellent Sprays and Lotions. This spray is recommended for adults but there's a kid-safe recipe on the same page.
You only need three ingredients and a spray bottle: Witch Hazel, water, and an essential oil, preferably Citronella or Lemongrass. I'd kept my eyes open for both of them but hadn't seen either in my recent wanderings to natural food stores or nutrition shops.
Did I mention mosquitos love me? I am no doubt a mosquito magnet. Once they do bite I get huge welts. After a particularly bad swollen hand and wrist after being bitten three times last fall in Michigan's UP I did some research and learned that most likely I am targeted over others nearby because mosquitos are attracted to:
- Body temperature. If yours runs higher they're going to notice you first - CBS
- Carbon dioxide output - WebMD
- Steroids - WebMD
- Lactic Acid - WebMD
- Uric Acid - WebMD
- Movement - WebMD
- Dark Colored Clothing - CBS
- Genetics - CBS Scientists don't know 100% why some of us are the most appealing to these blood sucking critters but it may be a combination of some or all of the aforementioned features that make one person a target over others in close proximity.
Even though I killed the one on my leg a few days ago I'd prefer practicing avoidance so I got on the phone and started calling nutrition shops. I located both essential oils at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in downtown Los Gatos.
I purchased an empthy 4 oz spray bottle and filled it with the following ingredients:
I hadn't ever bought witch hazel before so I didn't know where to look for it in the store. I have to say that I received some of the best customer service in recent memory both when I called on the phone and once I arrived in store. Kudos to Pharmaca for caring about what seems to be becoming a lost art.
Even though the recipe I used only called for one or the other I got both. The scents are very similar and combined smelled wonderful.
It's easy to count the drops as they come out because the bottles had little droppers built right in.
Once filled shake the bottle to blend the ingredients together. I tested the spray on the back of my hand for an allergic reaction. In the air and on my skin the scent was light and very pleasant. It smells refreshing like the way it smells when you walk into a spa, not a candle store which can often trigger a migraine for me because of the heavy perfume that is often times overwhelmingly pungent.
That night I went out for a walk at dusk after spraying my legs and backs of my hands and guess what? NO MOSQUITO BITES! Not one! I saw a mosquito come near me and used my hand to wave it away and that was it. I'm sold.
I'm not sure this recipe would work on the mosquitos in the Midwest because they're downright fierce. . . Here's a video of Wisconsin mosquitos waiting to eat me during my first night in The Glampette last June. I'd taken Kitai out to go to the bathroom and they literally swarmed me. Once safely back inside the trailer they were predators lying in wait for me to dare to step foot outside again. It was creepy like a horror movie but on a much smaller scale.
For now I'll be wearing the light and refreshing scent of lemongrass and citronella in the evenings and will hopefully remain bite-free for the foreseeable future.
If you have any other great natural-remedy mosquito avoidance tips please feel free to share them in the comments. I'm also planning on surrounding my yard with herbs (once I relocate) because I've read that mosquitos are also repelled by sage, basil, rosemary, and mint.
From what I've read a spray like this can work but DEET is better. So, if you live where there's a high concentration of mosquitos or diseases like West Nile Virus or Malaria you're probably better off sticking with a commercial repellent.