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How to Deter Mosquitoes and Other Bugs

All insects have a purpose but some are awfully annoying to humans! Here's how to deter mosquitoes and other bugs while you enjoy the great outdoors.

We all know about store-brand products, so we're going to tell you how to fend off those pesky insects with safe, non-toxic repellents and remedies.

Why Mosquitos Suck Your Blood

It's not all mosquitoes that feed on blood. The male mosquitoes only drink nectar, whereas female mosquitoes nourish their developing eggs with protein rich blood.

Towards that end, the female mosquitoes prefer to bite ankles and wrists, where blood vessels are nearer to the skin's surface. Therefore, it helps to cool the area of the bite to constrict the capillaries near the skin's surface and reduce swelling. Try a cool compress.

Remember not to scratch the bite; this will only make it worse.

Natural Remedies

  • Burn a little sage or rosemary over coals to repel mosquitoes.
  • To eliminate the itch, rub on meat tenderizer or lemon juice.
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil can be used to repel mosquitoes.
  • A paste of mashed garlic can help take the sting and itch away.
  • Some people swear garlic works and swallow slivered garlic to ward off these summer pests. Others take garlic tablets or rub garlic juice directly on their skin. Some people apply onion or radish juice for the same purpose.
  • White vinegar is another remedy for relieving the itch of insect bites. Apply it in full strength. Don't use vinegar if the area is raw.
  • Rubbing the skin with baby oil or imitation vanilla extract repels biting insects such as mosquitoes and blackflies.
  • Some people have luck with high doses of vitamin B1 (100 milligrams, two or three times a day), but it doesn't work for everybody.
  • One of our favorite remedies is rubbing cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects. If you take in enough cider veingar by putting it on foods you eat, you'll develop a body odor that will repel insects, including black flies.

basil natural remedy deter mosquitoes and insects

In the Garden

  • It is thought that certain plants repel a broad spectrum of insects. Marigolds, chrysanthemums, asters, and pyrethrum daisies, as well as herbs such as basil, anise, and coriander, are all thought to repel insects.
  • To keep mosquitoes to a minimum, eliminate their breeding sites on your property. They need standing water to lay their eggs in, so empty those puddles, old cans, buckets, and plant pots.

House Hints

  • Add a few drops of citronella to each gallon of exterior paint to keep away flying insects such as blackflies and mosquitoes. The citronella won't affect the paint, but it will keep the bugs from messing up your fresh paint job.
  • And your home, add a bat house! Did you know that one small brown bat can eat as many as 600 mosquitoes in one hour?


DEET-Free Bug Repellents

If you're looking for a non-toxic insect repellent we'd recommend this product: BUG OUT. The water-based BUG OUT Spray in a recyclable plastic pump bottle is totally chemical-free yet creates a powerful bug barrier on your clothing and exposed skin. Definitely an outdoor essential to prevent being eaten alive!

The same plant-based repellents that work in the garden work on your skin. BUG OUT is formulated with lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, cedarwood, geranium, and wintergreen (to name a few). These scents pleasing to humans—and noxious to insects. You can't bite back, but you can relax on the patio, camp in the woods, and enjoy nature without being bothered by swarms of biting bugs!

Check out the line of BUG OUT sprays, candles, and other DEET-free repellents here.


We hope this is helpful and biting bugs beware! Have some tips of your own? Please post below!

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My wife planted kale it came

By Toddavid on July 4

My wife planted kale it came up and was ready to harvest but something beat us to it ate all of the leaves what was it? please help.

Hi, Todd: You really need to

By Almanac Staff on July 6

Hi, Todd: You really need to get out your detective kit for this one, as it is hard for us to tell whether you are talking about systemic damage by some sort of insect (for which there are a number of candidates) or big chomps by some sort of larger animal. Inspect the remaining leaves and stems carefully, as well as the garden soil (for tracks). Hopefully that can give you a clue as to who or what the culprit(s) are. Good luck!

i have a large pool and

By joanne woodward

i have a large pool and vegetable garden. we are being bitten by flies and mosquitos even during the daytime.HELP!!!! i don't know what else to do. we can't eat outdoors and the flies bite all day. as soon as the sun starts to set the mosquitos start to bite, before it is even dark...I AM AT THE END OF MY ROPE. SUCH A NICE YARD GOING TO WASTE!!!!!

We use a floor fan turned

By NJF1991

We use a floor fan turned onto low out on our deck when it's buggy out. It's amazing how well it works in keeping mosquitoes and small flies away from us.

Here are a few home remedies

By Almanac Staff

Here are a few home remedies that you can try. Garlic and chives repel mosquitoes. Plant garlic and chives in the garden and in containers that you can keep around the yard. Eat garlic often. Rub your skin with fabric softner sheets or tuck one sheet under your cap or hat. Burn citronella candles.

ANTS. I have a newborn this

By Cristina Beaver

ANTS. I have a newborn this summer, I need to protect my home, fire ants big and small invade inside, and huge black ones are out back biting on my dog:( what can I do

have you tried diatametious

By Cheri sale on July 5

have you tried diatametious earth? Completely safe and it kills anything with a hard shell like ants, roaches, etc. Get the food grade kind.

Cloves work. We had an ant

By NadiaHurmi

Cloves work. We had an ant problem, and we couldnt figure out where they were getting in, so I sprinkled clove powder under my front door, and they all ran away and we havent seen them since. A "green" exterminator told me about this rememdy.

I locate their little mounds

By Debra Dee

I locate their little mounds by tracing their path out of my house. Then I sprinkle ANDRO ant bait around their mounds for them to carry into the nest which will kill THAT nest.. Before they re-organize and build another nest, I use clear silicone sealant to seal up the spots where they were entering my home. It takes several hours for this sealant to cure completely, but it is very sticky and will encase any straggling ants forever.

It's best to follow the ants in daytime when they are active, but put the ANDRO around the nests when they're all inside the nests at night for them to find the next morning.

It may take a few times of repeating this process, but soon the ants will leave your property. They stay away from my property for a few years before I have to do it again.

Can you tell me how a person

By Pasofino

Can you tell me how a person can get rid of chiggers nonchemically if that's possible? And what can you give your dogs if they have several chigger bites on them? Thanks for your time!

Chiggers dislike "smelly"

By Almanac Staff

Chiggers dislike "smelly" stuff.
Some readers say sulphur dust or powder (available at most local pharmacy stores) is a good repellent. Shake some in your socks and then stuff your pants in your socks and wear long boots. Some readers say tea tree oil works; we've never tried it.
Guinea fowl eat chiggers if you can hosts a few in exchange for pest control!
Otherwise, the best control is mowing lawns and weeds and shrubs that offer shade and moisture. When sunlight and air circulate freely, chiggers don't. Otherwise, the only solution is chemical: DEET.

Getting Garlic Powder from

By Hilary Rawson

Getting Garlic Powder from your local grocer and sprinkling it all through your yard creates a great Mosquito barrier! It has NEVER affected my pets, and I use it all summer every summer. I go a little extra thick around the patio and porch area where I sit. Citronella is actually derived from the Citronella plant. I have one in a pot on my front porch and it help a lot too. And for ticks...ticks also hate vinegar, a cotton ball with vinegar works just as well.

ticks,, to get a tick to back

By silversage3

ticks,, to get a tick to back it's self out from it's bite on you fill a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol, gather the tick in the cotton ball and hold the tick in the alcohol soaked cotton ball for a few minutes. the tick will back it's self out, in tact.

To get a tick to back out

By Linda Ball

To get a tick to back out from the skin much faster then with alcoholic on a cotton ball is to get a pair of tweezers heated up with a lighter for about 3O seconds and grab tick and instandly its out

Snails! Snails! Snails!

By Sarah Meyer

Snails! Snails! Snails! They're in my garden, on my house, in the plants all around my yard. I have picked them, stomped them, sprayed them, put down crushed egg shells and diatomacious earth . . . HELP! They're eating everything!

Regarding slugs and snails, I

By Debbie siegert

Regarding slugs and snails, I use a small saucer filled with beer and place on each corner of my garden. The snails love the beer and leave my garden alone. I do have to clean, empty and refill the saucer each few days. I have also used Hawaiian rock salt around the exterior of my garden and that works well too! Either way saves your veggies and greens!!

Use iron phosphate. Its

By swozlek

Use iron phosphate. Its great. Bonide sells it as a granular called slug magic. Its safe around your edibles and wildlife also

Slugs and snails love

By Frances Reberg

Slugs and snails love beer.
Get a lid from any small shallow jar, (mayo works well), and put the beer in it. Place near any plants, flowers, herbs that you see those little monsters. The next day, look at how many drink themselves to death.

Hi Sarah, Have you tried iron

By Almanac Staff

Hi Sarah, Have you tried iron phosphate? You can buy snail and slug bait with this ingredient, which is usually successful. Have a look at our slug page. Many of the remedies you see there will also work for snails: http://www.almanac.com/content/slugs Also, check out our new video on eliminating slugs! http://www.almanac.com/video/gardening-beer-slug-board-game-video

Last year I had a lot of

By cory613

Last year I had a lot of little holes in the leaves of all my plants and trees. I was told it was crickets or grubs but the can't get in trees, Can they ?

Japanese beetles maybe? They

By rt

Japanese beetles maybe? They look like small June bugs but bite people too. Their favorites in my yard are plum & peach tree leaves

I believe that garlic is

By paulajean57

I believe that garlic is poisonous to cats!! I would not recommend giving it to them to ward of flies or mosquitos.

Garlic is toxic to many

By sunnyshores88

Garlic is toxic to many animals. Garlic - along with other alliums such as onions - contains the chemical thiosulphate. This can be extremely dangerous to pets (onions being more of a danger than garlic). The blood-cleansing properties that make garlic sulphides beneficial to humans can damage the blood cells of animals. This can result in anything from mild anemia to major bursting of the blood cells leading to death.

So feeding garlic to your pet would appear to be a risk.

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