Mosquito Repellents and Bite Remedies

Home Remedies for Repelling Mosquitoes and Soothing Bug Bites

May 18, 2020
deter-mosquitoes-bug-bites

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.

Keeping those little fiends away is not only a matter of comfort but can be a matter of disease prevention (West Nile, Zika, yellow fever, etc.) though disease is rare.

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.

Natural Bug Repellent Remedies

Sweat attracts mosquitoes! 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.

Of course, the first step is to place a barrier between the skin and mosquitoes—​lightweight long sleeves and long pants. Also, spray yourself with an effective, safe mosquito repellent.

Topical Mosquito Repellents

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD, the man-made version) can be very effective and is safe. It shouldn’t be used on children under 3 years old, however — it’s not well-studied enough. Some repellents in the United States that contain it include Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Off! Botanicals. 
  • Garlic oil rubbed onto the skin has proven to be effective in some studies. 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.
  • 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.
  • Catnip oil was reported to repel mosquitoes by some studies.

Synthetic Repellents

  • DEET, which has a long track record, is safe with low risks but many people worry that it’s not. The big advantage of DEET is that it lasts — and you don’t have to use a super high concentration. 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.
  • Picaridin, a derivative of piperidine, a chemical related to black pepper, has been used in Europe since the late 1990s. In this country, Cutter Advanced was the first picaridin product to hit the market. 
  • IR-3535 is the active ingredient in Avon insect repellents (and some others as well). It lasts for about 2 hours. It can cause eye irritation if you spray it there by accident, but is otherwise very safe.

garlic-keep-mosquitoes-away.jpg

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

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

  • To keep mosquitoes to a minimum, eliminate their breeding sites on your property. They need standing water to breed, 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. Just don’t hang around standing water yourself!
  • 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 in studies, however, cintronella 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!
  • If you are camping outside, use mosquito netting around bedding. Spraying the netting with insect repellent is a good idea.

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: Do not 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

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.

Pages