Mosquitoes Bugging You? Banish Them

Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Health and Safety, Herbs, Lavender | 28 comments


Mosquitoes –  Image courtesy of chatchai_stocker at

Mosquitoes  are no longer merely summer’s party-poopers, they have turned into dangerous guests. While we know that many mosquito-borne viruses have been around for centuries there are two serious ones that have impacted North America in recent years.

  • West Nile Virus: Symptoms range from very mild to encephalitis/meningitis to death. Transmitted to birds, horses and humans. Most at risk – the very old and the very young.
  • Zika Virus: May cause neurological defects in babies, muscle weakness, paralysis and death. Most at risk – pregnant women.

It is therefore essential that we do what we can to prevent mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes – Preferences:

You know how you’re hiking with a group of friends and the mosquitoes like one person best? There is truth to that. Some people do attract mosquitoes more than others.

  • Carbon Dioxide attracts mosquitoes and of course we emit carbon dioxide when we do anything – breathe, talk, walk, or eat. Breathing is rather necessary but maybe we could talk or eat less while outside?
  • The more you sweat, and the older the sweat is, the more mosquitoes you will attract.
  • Exercise produces sweat and panting (release of carbon dioxide). For the very active person a strong mosquito repellent will probably be necessary. (See the Consumer Report Paragraph at the end of this article).
  • For some reason mosquitoes like people with blood type O while anyone with blood type A will be last choice.
  • Anyone with high uric acid levels tend to attract mosquitoes. If you fall in this category, up your Vitamin C and Citric Acid intake. A couple of tablespoon apple cider vinegar added to citrus juice/fruit salad/salad dressing will help balance things out.
  • For many people beer is the drink of choice during the summer. Unfortunately, unless they want to get bitten, they may have to change their beer to lemonade, at least while they’re outdoors.

Mosquitoes – Prevention:

While it’s impossible to eliminate every mosquito from your yard, there are steps we can take to make our yards less appealing to them.

  • The most obvious one – remove all standing water. This includes empty planters, wheelbarrows, old tires, bottles, cans and other containers left laying around, unused wading pools, pool covers, bird baths. Keep gutters/storm drains free from debris, cover rain barrels with fine mesh.  Any water features should have a pump to keep water moving.
  • Add lots of mosquito repelling plants to the flowerbeds and along walkways – Lavender, Lemon Balm, Basil, Marigolds, Lemongrass, Citronella, Catnip, Spearmint.

Banish them while you’re enjoying the outdoors:

  • Throw a few Rosemary stems on the BBQ. This adds flavour to foods while keeping mosquitoes away.
  • Place a variety of pots with mosquito repelling plants around the deck or patio and use one as a centrepiece(s) for your patio table. 
  • Add a few drops of pure Citronella oil to beeswax candles. Do not buy the cheap citronella candles or rings found at Dollar stores. They are ineffective and toxic.
  • When sitting outside, place a fan behind you. Mosquitoes are very light and the breeze will just blow them away.

Ways for you to be less appealing to mosquitoes:

  • Wear light colour clothes – the darker the clothes, the greater the chance mosquitoes will find you.
  • Mosquitoes have a great sense of smell and are attracted to scents. Best not to use anything scented – perfumes, soap, shampoos, etc.
  • If possible, wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and socks. Don’t wear baggy clothes that could trap mosquitoes and so be carried indoors.
  • Use the right kind of mosquito repellent applicable to the situation.

Mosquitoes –  Repellents:

Mosquitoes like the early morning and the hours around sunset best. If you’re going to be outside during those times take extra precautions.

There are a number of homemade Mosquito Repellents that work for around the patio and in the backyard. For camping, hiking and other outdoor activities where mosquitoes are in abundance stronger products are recommended.

Homegrown Mosquito Repellents: Some of the safest mosquito repellents for use around the home are the ones you can easily grow in your garden. You can also use these on pets.


Table Planter – Lemongrass, lavender, basil, marigolds

  • If you don’t have lavender growing in your flower bed, window-box or herb/vegetable garden, now is the perfect time to plant a few. To use as a mosquito repellent, just rub your hands up and down the lavender stems a few times to transfer the oils, then rub the exposed skin areas with your hands. Pin a sprig of lavender to the back of your hat.
  • Lemon Balm, an easy to grow, attractive perennial suitable for any garden site is another great mosquito repellent and used the same way as lavender. Rub the leaves, then rub exposed skin. You can also pick a large bunch, boil it and strain it into a spray bottle. Add a drop of apple cider vinegar if you like. Lemon Balm smells nice and refreshing.
  • Basil is an easy to grow annual that can be used in the same way as Lavender or Lemon Balm.
    1. Place a few stalks on the grill when barbecuing.
    2. Bruise a basil leaf and rub it on exposed skin.
    3. Bruise a leaf and pin it to shirt sleeves or hat.

Homemade Mosquito Repellents:  Not for use on children under three:

  • Mix Avon Skin So Soft with an equal quantity Witch Hazel. Pour into a spray bottle. Be careful to avoid contact with mouth, nose and eyes. Shake before using. Must be re-applied every 2-3 hours.
  • Mix 1/8 cup Pure Lemon Eucalyptus Oil with 1 cup Witch Hazel. Pour into a spray bottle. Be careful to avoid contact with mouth, nose and eyes. Shake before using. Must be re-applied every 2-3 hours.

Purchased Mosquito Repellents: These are stronger than the homegrown/homemade versions but make the most sense if you’re camping, hiking, etc. in mosquito territory. When using strong mosquito repellents containing DEET, it’s best to spray your clothes, hat and shoes/boots, rather than directly on your skin.

  • StealStreet Brookyo Mosquito Repellent Bracelet: These microfiber bracelets and patches will stay fresh for up to 7 days with pleasant smell of natural essential oils that bugs are repelled by – great for adults, teens, kids, safe for babies and even dogs

  • Sawyer Picaridin: Chosen top insect repellent by Consumer Reports. Effective against the Yellow Fever Mosquito, which can transmit the Zika Virus; Insect-killing repellent for your clothing is effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes; as effective as 100 percent DEET; Lasts up to 6 weeks (or 6 washings). Ideal for hunters, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Off! Deepwoods: Not oily or greasy; Repels mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, chiggers and gnats; A must-have for camping, fishing, hunting and boating; repels mosquitoes that may carry West Nile Virus.
  • Before buying any mosquito repelling gadgets do a thorough check of the product. Most of them have little value and some are just plain annoying.

The following information is quoted from Consumer Reports  To read more, click on the link.

“ The most effective products against Aedes mosquitoes (the ones that carry the Zika virus) were Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour, which each contain 20 percent picaridin, and Off! Deepwoods VIII, which contains 25 percent deet. They kept the mosquitoes from biting for about 8 hours. The Sawyer product was our top insect repellent overall. It was the only one that also kept Culex mosquitoes, which can spread West Nile disease, and deer ticks, which can spread Lyme disease, away for at least 8 hours.”

While I’m all for natural non-toxic mosquito repellents, sometimes they do not provide enough protection and I would rather use a strong repellent than take a chance on catching a mosquito-borne virus.

Talk to you again next week,


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  1. Great tips. This post makes me wonder if one of my cousins and grandpa might have been type A. They rarely were bitten by mosquitoes when we’d came at our place in Montana, while the rest of the family would be eaten alive at the worst times of the year.

  2. Upon reading this post, I naturally wondered, “What preys on mosquitoes?” has posted a “List of Mosquito Predators” here that makes for interesting reading. I also found a brief “Dragonfly Eating Mosquito” YouTube video that may lift your spirits:

    • Andy, I haven’t watched the video yet – not sure I can stomach watching a dragonfly eating a mosquito first thing in the morning but I did check the Bugoff link and found that interesting. I’ve noticed we have quite a few dragonflies around this year, don’t really know what has been attracting them but they hang around the door so I have to chase them away before going in. Now I’ll think about them more kindly. Interesting reading about the mosquito fish – never heard of that before, not sure if we really want to import that because we could end up with another carp problem.

  3. This is some great info. I will be sharing this with my friends. We have a bad mosquito problem where I live.

  4. Fantastic post, Lenie. Well researched and informative. Interesting how apple cider vinegar has yet another use! That stuff is certainly versatile. I love the idea of using herbs to repel mosquitoes. I have some of the ones you mentioned, but will try and get the Lemongrass and Citronella this wkend. Cheers and stay safe!

    • Doreen, you’re right about apple-cider. It seems to be popping up more and more in connection with health. I may have to look further into that. You have a wonderful week too. 🙂

  5. These are wonderful tips, especially the plants. I do know I like to use burnt cork. I use some wine cork stoppers, burn them and hang them down from my hat. This seems to keep the mosquitoes from my face.
    Do these tips you provide, also work with deer flies.

    • William, thanks for the burnt cork tip. That’s a great one for hunters/campers and the like. The repellents work for insects which would include deer flies but again, you need to match the repellent to the locale. I would hate to enter a wooded area with only Skin so Soft and a lavender sprig as repellents.

  6. Perfect timing Lenie! I didn’t know about the blood type O thing, and yep, that’s me all over. We’re having a late rainy season this year and it is definitely bringing the critters out so this will help me get busy taking preventative measures. Thanks!

    • Hi Marquita, I can well imagine that the heat and the wet really brings out the mosquitoes. So glad that you found my post useful.

  7. Hi, Lenie

    Love this detailed report about the war against mosquitoes.

    I did notice some people are more attractive to mosquitoes, but I do not know it is related to blood types.

    I support your idea that we must wear long sleeves shirt to protect ourselves.

    I don’t use the commercial bug spread because they are danger to the health. Two kind I used are Avon Skin so soft bath oil (I was Avon Lady for a few years) and Eucalyptus oil.

    Love the report

    Stella Chiu

    • Hi Stella, that Skin So Soft repellent is really something, isn’t it? It’s been around for years and still no one knows why it works. The Eucalyptus oil is also very effective but harder to come by. Natural products are always preferred but if I had to go into mosquito territory I would not hesitate to use a stronger commercial repellent. Those mosquito borne viruses can be deadly.

  8. Lenie — Mosquitoes love me and I happen to have Type A blood, which hasn’t made me immune to their bites. I have read that most people get bitten by mosquitoes but the people like me who suffer the most are more allergic to them. People who are not allergic to their bites don’t feel them and are not as bothered. I never go out at night or even in the daytime if I’ll be walking in grass or in the woods without slathering myself with insect spray.

    • Jeannette, I know there are people who are more allergic to mosquitoes like you and you’re absolutely right – protect yourself the best way even if it means commercial repellents. Interesting thought – when we were kids we used to run outside with barefeet all the time and would have stirred up a lot of mosquitoes in the grass which should have meant we would have been bitten something fierce but other than the odd bite, we weren’t really bothered. Now I wonder why. Where you bothered more than others even when small?

  9. Thank you for breaking this down Lenie.

    Mosquitoes are deadly, primarily in countries where they carry malaria. If I am travelling to such countries I prepare in advance;

    1. I take garlic capsules daily months in advance of travelling. Apparantely, mosquitoes can smell the garlic as you release via your pores. They hate the smell.

    2. I buy Avon Skin So soft products from shower gel to cream. I am not sure how it works but there is definitely an ingredient in these products which deters mosquitoes.

    3. I take anti-malaria tablets. The last dose affected my skin once I returned to the UK but I am still pleased I took them.

    • Phoenicia, I don’t know about Britain but I can tell you that deadly mosquito-borne viruses are popping up all over North America, not just in countries where things like yellow fever and malaria are common. So here we need to protect ourselves the best way possible. The steps you take – other than # 3 – are useful preventive measures anywhere.

  10. With the worldwide scare of the zika virus right now AND summer around the corner, the timing of your post couldn’t be better, Lenie. I’d heard if the skin so soft tip before but not if sing witch hazel to it. I’ll have to see if that works even better. 🙂

    • Susan, with the mosquito-borne viruses that are around right now I feel it’s only smart to protect ourselves – can’t see taking a chance. I do like using Skin So Soft with or without witch hazel – smells so nice and a little goes a long way.

  11. I love these tips on dealing with mosquitoes. I have Type O blood and mosquitoes love me. And I don’t react well to the bites. I have a few of the herbs you’ve mentioned growing in my small herb garden planter so I will try some of your suggestions. I like that apple cider vinegar can help. It tastes great in salad dressings – good choice for the summer time.

    • Donna, that apple cider vinegar is fast becoming a bit of a miracle product. I don’t know how many times I’ve run across it in health articles. I feel bad for you if you are a mosquito magnet and have negative reactions to their bites so I truly hope these suggestions help.

  12. Mosquitoes love me.And my blood type isn’t even type O. Luckily, I live someplace where there are few mosquitoes. Still, I feel pretty much destined to contract Zika since the few mosquitoes that are out there gravitate towards me. I’ll try a few of the things you suggest and keep my fingers crossed. Fortunately, I’m neither very young or very old so I’m hoping that if I do get it, I will be fine.

    • Hi Erica, Zika virus and West Nile disease is nothing to take chances on. If you are the person they are attracted too it may be worthwhile for you to try one of the stronger repellents, especially at the high-risk times. You’re one of my favourite readers – I would hate to see you sick. 🙂

  13. Hate mosquitos but they love me. Luckily there is no mosquito problem where I live. Great suggestiosn on how to repel mosquitos. Above all I like your homemade mosquito repellents.

    • Catarina, mosquitoes don’t really target me which is a good thing because out of our 10 acres, two are designated wetlands so while we remove all standing water, that is one area we can’t touch. fortunately they’re quite a ways away from the house. I like homemade non=-toxic anything, as I know you do too. (But sometimes that is not enough).

  14. Haha. You can be sure I will be passing on to my wife the advice that you can avoid attracting mesquitos by talking less.

    • Ken, you may end up with some very quiet evenings LOL. It is true though that carbon dioxide attracts them. I wonder if wearing a mask would cut the carbon dioxide emission and if so, do you swallow it? Questions, Questions, so few answers. 🙂

  15. This is very useful information, Lenie! I didn’t know about o blood type being attracted to mosquitos. That explains why my husband and daughter get get bit way more than I do. I will be sharing this one with everyone. Thanks.

    • Sabrina, isn’t it weird that mosquitoes have taste preferences? Gourmet mosquitoes, what a thought. Unfortunately for the people who do attract them it can now be dangerous so tell your husband and daughter to use the strong repellent if they have too. No sense taking chances on those viruses.

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