By Ritamarie Loscalzo


I don’t know about you, but about this time every year I’ve just about had it with mosquitoes!  But I’m sure not willing to resort to a product with DEET, a chemical which can cause headaches, weakness/fatigue, breathing problems, skin irritation and more.  Complicating the matter, DEET products frequently contain other potentially harmful chemicals such as the neurotoxin permethrin.  Duke University researchers found that regular use of chemical insect repellants may damage brain cells, and I prefer to hang on to as many of those as possible!

Thankfully there are alternatives.  Catnip, for instance, has been found to be even more repelling to mosquitoes than DEET.  Grow some catnip in your herb garden, then pick off leaves to rub essential oil on your skin when outside.  Repellants made with soy oil are both effective and moisturizing!  But look for an organic product without GM soy, and know that research has shown topical application of soy may slow down body hair growth (a bad thing?)

Neem seed oil was determined more effective than DEET by the Malaria Institute in India, and it seems they should know…  Citronella is commonly used as a natural bug-stopper, but it is important to use a high quality pure essential oil (not the oil used for fragrance) to get the most benefit.  Lavendar essential oil can be used alone as a repellent, but is frequently found in combination with other repelling oils such as lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon, cedar, rosemary, lemon balm or geranium can boost effectiveness AND improve scent great.

Avoid wearing dark colored clothes and body products with fruity or floral scents.

Some people find a diet high in B vitamins and/or low in potassium make them less attractive to mosquitoes.  In truth, the food you eat may just be one factor.  Insects are drawn to some people more than others for complex reasons involving multiple chemical and visual cues.

Test out any combination of the above suggestions to find a DEET-free resolution that works for you. It beats walking around in a net!

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