Mosquitoes have been a thorn in humankind’s side for thousands and thousands of years, but their predatory relationship with us will likely continue for even longer. Mosquitoes are also one of the most efficient spreaders of deadly diseases and viruses, and have been the cause of millions upon millions of deaths worldwide. And while Zika virus has not made its way to Sacramento yet, West Nile has, and fear of mosquitoes is reaching peak levels in America this summer. Thankfully, there are ways to help keep your family and pets safe from these annoying, even deadly pests that are so pervasive this time of year.
Many people seek alternative, “natural” ways to repel mosquitoes, but only some of these alternative solutions offer any relief. Claims of Vitamin B1 as an option for mosquito control have been entirely debunked in controlled studies, while claims of garlic rubbed into the skin showed that this method decreases mosquito bites, but only for 20-40 minutes, and has the unpleasant side effect of leaving you smelling like a garlic field.
So what are some natural remedies that DO actually repel mosquitoes? Oil of lemon and eucalyptus have been shown to help, but they require significant reapplication (every hour or so). The best natural remedy is wearing tightly-woven, permethrin-treated fabric over your entire body and staying out at dawn and dusk, but these are not only impractical in the heat, they’re incredibly uncomfortable. For those who want to be able to wear their shorts and sleeveless tops, but still want the best mosquito repelling available, products containing DEET or picaridin are the most successful mosquito repellents.