Keep Mosquitos Away the Healthier Way

Courtney Rupertus
Keep Mosquitos Away the Healthier Way

Two guaranteed annoyances that come with summer: construction and mosquitos. 

While there’s nothing that can be done about the construction other than to practice deep breathing, there are a few things you can do to keep mosquitos at bay without drowning yourself in toxic chemicals.

First of all, everyone has a different reaction to mosquito bites, from no reaction at all to bumps, welts, and even anaphylaxis. Basically, the reason why you react is due to the special protein that prevents your blood from clotting while the female mosquito is sucking it out of you. When you react, you are actually having an immune (or allergic) response to the saliva, not the bite itself.

Unfortunately some mosquitos, mostly abroad, also harbor disease that can be passed along to humans. You are at the most risk of this if you travel to areas in which these diseases are most prevalent. You can typically research this information prior to travelling.

Some of the risky ones are Zika, dengue, and chikungunya and are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. There is no vaccine or treatment for these diseases, so prevention is key. The most talked about one in North America is of course West Nile. It is still a threat to those with diabetes or immune compromised individuals; healthy adults usually experience mild symptoms with no risk. 

Whether you have a minor allergic reaction, a small red bump (which happens to be the most common), welts, or more – it is really annoying to be swatting and scratching all summer long. 

So what can you do to avoid getting bitten?

Wear loose, long clothing – This might seem like common sense, but the less skin exposed and the harder it is to land, the less you’ll be bitten.

Avoid “high times” – Mosquitos are at their worst from dusk to dawn, so if you stay indoors at this time, you’ll end up with less itchy bumps.

Wear white – Studies have shown that dark-coloured clothing attracts mosquitos, so use it as an excuse to wear summery colours and white.

Eliminate standing water from your yard and keep your grass trimmed.

Add mosquito-deterring plants to your patio or garden.

Use chemical-free mosquito repellents.

Plants that can help deter mosquitos include: lemon grass, lemon balm, citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary, mint, catnip, anise, geraniums, marigolds, and lavender. They also happen to look great in planters on your deck.

 

Why should you use chemical-free repellents?

If your go-to solution to mosquitos is to slather or spray on mass amounts of DEET, there are a couple reasons why you might want to cut back or reduce your exposure completely. 

It is absorbed into your bloodstream when applied to your skin. Basically, the body takes in anything you put on your skin. So for example, if you avoid eating processed foods due to the chemical preservatives, it would also make sense for you to be wary of what you apply to the outside of your body as well. 

Heavy exposure to DEET has been shown to cause headaches, weakness, fatigue, joint pain, shortness of breath, as well as skin and eye irritations. While there is always contradicting advice out there, DEET should at the very least, only be used as a last resort, especially on children. 

There are chemical-free repellents out there that are just as effective and not harmful when absorbed by your body. You can even make your own using essential oils as noted below:

Combine 10 drops of mint, 5 drops of rosemary, 5 drops of eucalyptus, 10 drops lemon or citronella, 5 drops lavender, and 5 drops of clove essential oils with ¾ of a spray bottle filled with witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, then fill with distilled water. Shake before each use.