Mosquito Repellents and Bite Remedies

Home Remedies for Repelling Mosquitoes and Soothing Bug Bites

By The Old Farmer's Almanac

Use these natural mosquito repellents and mosquito bite remedies to keep the mosquitoes away and get relief from itchy bug bites!

We love summer but staying away from mosquitoes is annoying. No one wants to wear long clothes in the heat just to prevent mosquito bites, but the bugs can be relentless.

It’s not all mosquitoes that feed on blood, though: male mosquitoes only drink nectar, whereas female mosquitoes nourish their developing eggs with protein-rich blood. To that end, the female mosquitoes prefer to bite ankles and wrists, where blood vessels are nearer to the skin’s surface. Ever noticed where you get bitten?

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

When a mosquito bites you, it injects a small amount of saliva into the wound to stop your blood from clotting. Our bodies react to this foreign substance and, in defense, produce a protein called histamine. Histamine triggers the characteristic inflammation seen around mosquito bites, as well as the itching.

Note: Though it’s rare, mosquito saliva can also carry encephalitis, malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever. If you have any complications with bug bites (besides itching), check for symptoms of these other diseases.

Natural Bug Repellent Remedies

Did you know: A higher body temperature and more sweat make you more likely to be bitten. A first step is to wash off any sweat and keep your body temperature down.

Topical Mosquito Repellents

  • Many readers claim that rubbing apple cider vinegar on your skin helps to repel insects. If you take in enough apple cider vinegar by putting it on foods you eat, you’ll develop a body odor that will repel insects, including black flies. One great and refreshing summer drink for this purpose is switchel, made from apple cider vinegar.
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil is recommended by the C.D.C. to repel mosquitoes, as is picaridin.
  • 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. 
  • If you are going to use a DEET repellent, do not use one with more than 25% DEET. Unlike the SPF rating in sunscreens, higher concentrations of DEET don’t mean more protection.


Though it might not give you the most pleasing scent, garlic juice could help to keep mosquitoes away.

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard

  • 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. If you have a pond, don’t worry—dragonflies love ponds, and they are a big mosquito predator.
  • 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. See more plants that repel mosquitoes.
  • Citronella candles are not proven to work, however the smoke repels mosquitoes. Or, burn a little sage or rosemary over coals to repel mosquitoes.
  • Add a bat house to your home! Did you know that one small brown bat can eat as many as 600 mosquitoes in one hour? Check this page for more information on bats and other creatures that eat annoying pests!
  • Be aware that using pesticides to get rid of mosquitoes can also harm more beneficial bugs like fireflies and dragonflies. Try some home remedies before making that decision!

Mosquito Bite Relief: Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Itching

  • It helps to ice the area of the bite to constrict the capillaries near the skin’s surface and reduce swelling. 
  • If you are going to use a topical cream, stay away from caladryl and calamine lotions for mosquito bites; it’s better to apply a low-potency hydrocortisone and simple patience.
  • Remember not to scratch the bite; this will only make it worse. For itchy bites, rub on meat tenderizer or lemon juice. A paste of mashed garlic can also help make bug bites stop itching.
  • 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. See more household uses for vinegar.
  • A paste of baking soda and water can provide much-needed relief to bug bites. Learn more about the countless household uses for baking soda.
  • Oatmeal can also help to provide itch relief—not only for bug bites.
  • 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.
  • If you have an intense reaction to mosquito bites, consult your doctor.

We hope these natural mosquito repellents and bug bite remedies help you beat the bugs this season! Have some tips of your own? Please post in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Baby powder for ants

I will try this in my backyard in Canada.
Thanks fir the tip.

Cloves work. We had an ant

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.

have you tried diatametious

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

Cinnamon-Natural and Ants won't go near it!

I researched natural remedies to repel Ants and the best one I found was Cinnamon. I tried it and it works. Ants immediately stopped. They would not continue on or cross the path of cinnamon, and the ones with cinnamon on them just died. I love it.

Can you tell me how a person

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"

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

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

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

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!

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!

Getting rid of Snails and Slugs

Hello Sarah,
just sprinkle table salt around the house and garden. This works like magic.

Slugs and snails love

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.

Use iron phosphate. Its

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

Regarding slugs and snails, I

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!!

Last year I had a lot of

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

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

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

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.