In the light of Zika virus outbreak I get asked a lot about natural insect repellents and can they alone provide enough protection against mosquito bites and are they efficient enough to keep the mosquitoes away. So I turned to 10 experts in various mosquito and mosquito control fields, to find out the answer.
as being the best form of protection, although I still do plant various natural repellents in my yard in the hopes that it will keep biting mozzies to a minimum.”
- Wear mosquito repellent for personal protection. There are three repellents that are recommended by the CDC and contain one of the following ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
DEET is by far the most effective repellent
and the one our technicians use. The ones containing Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, naturally occurring ingredients that are derived from plants, are less effective, but effective nonetheless. Please be sure to follow the label instructions. The latter products require more frequent use for protection.
- Empty standing water so mosquitoes can't thrive in the first place. Mosquitoes can grow into biting adult mosquitoes in as little water as that found in a bottle cap.
- Report mosquito issues to your local mosquito and vector control.”
to synthetic repellents since they are deemed safer,
which is often not the case (after all, arsenic and hydrogen cyanide are completely natural!). Although these natural repellents can have comparable efficacy to synthetic repellents such as DEET or Picaridin, they tend to have less longevity, therefore requiring more frequent reapplication. This isn't to say natural plant products shouldn't be researched for their capability as insect repellents, as many of today’s synthetic repellents or pesticides are based on these chemicals (such as pyrethroids being developed from naturally occurring pyrethrins).”
Before there was DEET and chemical insect repellents, people used plant oils. Notably, oil of lemon eucalyptus has been found to be nearly as effective as 25 percent DEET, repelling mosquitoes by invading their sense of smell with this fragrant oil. Today, there are several oil of lemon eucalyptus sprays available, but you can also make your own. Buy a small bottle of 100 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus, mix with a mild (but not sweet smelling) oil like olive oil, sunflower oil, or soybean oil and for extra strength, mix with an alcohol like vodka or even witch hazel. Oil of lemon eucalyptus can work up to six hours, so reapply liberally. Other essential oils include: citronella and citronella candles, lemongrass oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil and tea tree oil. For a very potent and effective all-natural mosquito treatment, mix a combination of these oils with olive oil, witch hazel or vodka and rub into your skin.
Besides essential oils, there are very few natural mosquito repellents. In countries where mosquitoes and their diseases run rampant, mosquito nets are the most affordable and efficient natural mosquito repellent. Several plants can also serve as mosquito deterrents (Basil, Marigold, Lemon balm, Citrosa, Lavender, Lemon thyme, Peppermint, Garlic), but their effectiveness is low. If you have a favorite spot to sit in your yard, consider planting a combination of these plants along with having a few citronella candles on hand. Even if these plants don’t work, at least you’ll have a beautiful garden!
If you’re looking for a non-chemical mosquito solution, DC Mosquito Squad carries a natural barrier spray that repels ticks and mosquitoes through odor alone. While this natural mosquito control method is not as powerful or long lasting as our normal barrier spray, for many families and property owners, this is their method of choice.”
So can natural insect repellents alone protect you against mosquitoes?
Most experts stand by DEET as the only really efficient insect repellent, that will provide the protection you need against mosquitoes and other insects. And although they believe, that natural repellent can be somewhat efficient, they need to be reapplied often and can still cause irritation to some, similar as repellents containing DEET.
But at the end of the day using any type of repellent, whether it is natural or not, will be better and will provide more protection than if you don’t use a repellent at all. So as Luz Maria Robles from Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District says “the best repellent is one you will actually use“!