Natural mosquito repellants essentially fall into two categories, those to be used on the person and those to be used in the atmosphere. Let’s take a look at both types and learn how to use them.
Like the rest of us, mosquitoes find certain scents attractive, and some repel them. Natural mosquito repellants have been around much longer than their manufactured chemical counterparts. And, it is safe to say that what works for one person will not work as well for another. When applying natural mosquito repellants, keep in mind that, because of their gentler nature, they will probably have to be applied with greater frequency, generally at least once per hour, and after heavy perspiration. There are many, many different “home remedies”, so experiment with all of them to see which natural mosquito repellants work best for you.
Make your own natural mosquito repellants
This natural mosquito repellant is made by infusing horsemint (Monarda punctata) in olive oil. Horsemint has a scent similar to citronella. Place the leaves and flowers in a saucepan. Cover with olive oil and heat over low heat for approximately 15 minutes. Allow to stand overnight and then strain. Store in a cool, dark place. Rub on skin before going outdoors. Horsemint grows wild in most of the Eastern United States, from Mexico, Texas up to Minnesota to Vermont. It is partial to sandy soils and will grow in USDA Zones 5-10. Native Americans used it as a treatment for colds and flu. It has natural fungicidal and bacterial retardant properties because it’s essential oils are high in thymol. Horsemint does not have a reputation for causing skin reactions, but as always, apply to a small test area the night before applying liberally to skin as a natural mosquito repellant. Caution: Not for use during pregnancy.
Natural mosquito repellants straight from the bush
If you happen to live in an area where rosemary plants grow well, break off a branch, squeeze it a bit and rub all over exposed areas of the skin. The nice fragrance is a plus. Rosemary (Rosemarinus Officinalis) is a native of the Mediterranean, so it likes hot, dry weather and well drained soil. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-10, and must be grown as a pot plant in colder climates. If you happen to live in a part of the country where rosemary does not grow, you can get a good quality rosemary essential oil, mix 4 drops with ¼ cup olive oil. Store in a cool, dry place. When it comes to fresh plant oils as natural mosquito repellants, there is every reason to have the plant in your yard, if they will grow in your area. It is an inexpensive and attractive way to boost the appearance of the landscape and have natural mosquito repellants on hand as well.
Not just for cats anymore. Catnip oil has been found to be a first class mosquito repellant. Easy to grow, Catnip as a natural mosquito repellant catnip is an attractive landscape plant.
Avon Skin So Soft
Many camping enthusiasts swear by Avon Skin So Soft Bath Moisturizing Oil, mixed ½ and ½ with rubbing alcohol as one of the best natural mosquito repellants. Ever since the US Army began ordering it in bulk for its troops, it has been highly touted for this purpose. In fact, Avon has now extended its line of products to include Skin So Soft in a sunscreen and now markets Skin So Soft Insect Repellant as well, for added convenience. While effective as a natural mosquito repellant, some people find the aroma offensively cloying and sweet.
Grab a sheet of Bounce fabric softener and rub on exposed areas. This is even safe for babies and it is easy to tuck a few extra sheets into the ever-present diaper bag, for Mom and Dad too. And, like all of the more natural mosquito repellants, it needs to be reapplied often.
Sting Free™Insect Bite Protector
You know it must be good if the garden staff at Garden’s Alive raves about it! It repels mosquitoes, ticks and black flies. Made from all natural plant extracts, it stays effective for 3 hours. In a recent comparison test, it out-performed other natural repellants and came close to providing the level of protection of DEET.
As a natural mosquito repellant Sting Free™ is first rate. Sting Free™ comes in a handy spray bottle, so it transports easily. And, the good news–it is sweat proof, and that is hard to come by in almost any mosquito repellant.
Buzz Away is an herbal, all natural mosquito repellant that is very effective. It contains natural oils of cedarwood, citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass, which gives it the added plus of giving it a nice, clean scent. It has been awarded the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. One advantage is that it contains a variety of oils. There are many different types of mosquitoes, so having a broad spectrum of natural mosquito repellant ingredients is a better attack strategy.
Jungle Juice is another plant oil based natural mosquito repellant which is also quite effective. A friend vacationing in St. John was being plagued by their tropical mosquitoes and bought a bottle in sheer desperation. Now she says she won’t use anything else. It contains essential oils of clove, eucalyptus, geranium, orange, palma rosa, rosemary and sage. No chemical preservatives, alcohol or artificial colorings are used. It is also waterproof. Its aroma is very pleasant, resembling a mix of cinnamon and cloves. Jungle Juice, as a natural mosquito repellant, is a great solution. It is safe, easy to use and completely natural.
Citronella is the essential oil of the cymboqogon nardus plant, a type of tropical grass. It is cultivated in Java and Sri Lanka. The oil is contained in a wide variety of products for both personal and landscape use. For personal use, get pure cold-distilled citronella oil, mix a few drops with olive oil and apply to exposed areas and pulse points. As always, test a bit first to see if a reaction develops. For the most part, though, you can expect essential citronella oil to be one of the safest and best natural mosquito repellants.
Relatively large quantities of citronella oil are necessary to be effective as a natural mosquito repellant in landscape use. natural mosquito repellant For example, burning citronella candles can be an effective means of repelling mosquitoes, if you use plenty. For a 30’x 30′ area, burning ten of the large, bucket candles will keep mosquitoes at bay, when placed around the perimeter of the area. While the larger size is more expensive, they tend to last a long time because of their size. They can last an entire season, depending on frequency of use, which more than justifies the added expense. And, in large numbers, they add an attractive atmosphere to the patio, while being one of the most effective natural mosquito repellants you can find.
Incense does not so much repel mosquitoes as confuse them, but it still fits the catagory of natural mosquito repellants. It helps keep them from finding you by masking your body scent and the carbon dioxide you exhale. Like citronella candles, the key is quantity. For the same 30’x 30′ foot area, you should burn at least 10 sticks around the perimeter of the area you are guarding from flying bloodsuckers. Unlike the larger candles, they are inexpensive, which is good because the sticks may have to be replaced over the course of a long evening. The combination of citronella candles and incense sticks is a very, very effective natural mosquito repellant. Unlike the candles, they have the added advantage of being portable. Several packages can be tucked into camping gear. A couple of packages can also be kept in the glove compartment of your car for unexpected need. While the aroma can be very intense, even oppressive, indoors, the aroma is diluted outdoors and can be quite pleasant. The cheapest varieties can be offensive, so go for a little bit higher price. Stick with the more “woodsy” scents, like sandalwood, and stay away from the fruitier types, if intense aroma is a concern. And, sandlewood oil is also noted for being a good natural mosquito repellant. Because incense is so effective, some companies have adapted the concept and make mosquito coils.
Mosquito coils are a health hazard, and not a natural mosquito repellant!
An excellent natural mosquito repellant is Vick’s Vaporub®. As you can see from the list of ingredients on some of the natural mosquito repellant sprays, peppermint and eucalyptus oils, are repugnant to mosquitoes. So, it stands to reason that Vick’s Vaporub®, would have the same effect. Used on exposed areas,it will repel mosquitoes and probably a few humans as well. Consult a pediatrician before using on young children. Again, this is quite easy to pack in camp gear and to have on hand in your car when you find yourself needing a quick, effective natural insect repellant.
Some of our friends in Texas have found a new use for the clear, liquid vanilla that is sold in Mexico. It is not the pure vanilla extract that we find in stores here. Mix with a little olive oil and rub on exposed areas for a different, but interesting natural mosquito repellant. At least you will smell much more pleasant than when slathered in Vick’s Vaporub® ! I have not tried this one, but since it is inexpensive, and contains a substance fit for consumption, one try can’t hurt. And, if it works for you, you have added one more natural mosquito repellant to your arsenal.
Blow ’em Away
Mosquitoes are not strong flyers and will not frequent windy places. Have you ever noticed that when you are at the beach, if you stay close enough to the water to catch the ocean breeze, no mosquitoes bother you? This is why. So, if you have a small gathering space you want to rid of mosquitoes, place a large fan at the perimeter and turn it on high. And, if you have a proper place for one, like a covered patio, there are many models of outdoor ceiling fans designed for outside use. Certain natural mosquito repellants lose effectiveness in windy areas, like citronella candles and incense, but then, if the wind gets rid of the pests, save the candles and incense for later! As long as you have a good,effective natural mosquito repellant, do what works!
Mosquitoes do not like the aroma of garlic. Some people have tried eating enough to smell like garlic to mosquitoes, but it takes much, much more than is tasty to be useful in being a natural mosquito repellant.
Extremely strong garlic sprays for the landscape are another matter. See the page of this site on outdoor garlic mosquito sprays.
The bottom line
When it comes to natural mosquito repellants, if they are inexpensive, and contain no harmful substances, experiment with lots of different ones. Everyone has a different body chemistry, as anyone who has battled being prime meat for mosquitoes knows. Scientific research has established that mosquitoes favor some people over others (proving there really are times when it is not nice to be loved). What scientists and researchers have not yet discovered is what makes some people more attractive than others. So, natural mosquito repellants that work for your neighbor or spouse may not work for you. And, the reverse is true.
Still, until modern technology finds a way to eradicate mosquitoes, knowing how to use natural mosquito repellants can make your life easier and mosquito free. After this review of natural mosquito repellants, we will look at the latest mosquito kill technology. Check out our section on Mosquito Magnets and other mosquito traps.