As a child, my spotted arms and legs were evidence that dozens of mosquitoes fed on me every day. All that despite two mosquito coils burning in my bedroom every night. If only my parents had known about budget-friendly, natural ways to ward off mosquitoes and soothe bites.
These deterrents and remedies are worth trying if you’re on a budget, especially considering a review published in the April, 2012 issue of the Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin that revealed there’s little evidence over-the-counter insect bite remedies actually work.
This versatile, healing herb helps to take the itch out of mosquito bites — and it also prevents them. The thought of rubbing garlic or garlic juice on your skin may not be appealing because of this herb's pungent smell, but that odor does work to repel mosquitoes. Plus, heads of garlic are a lot more affordable than many of those insect bite ointments in the pharmacy — many of which are not very effective. So this is something to consider if you are gardening or walking at dawn or dusk.
- Buy fresh garlic at a farmer's market where it’s least expensive.
- Peel and then puree four or five whole heads of garlic in a blender to make a paste. Add a pinch of fine sea salt (to preserve it) and a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
- Store it in the fridge until you're ready to use. Might also taste good on pasta!
Apple Cider Vinegar
- During mosquito season, keep apple cider vinegar and cotton balls handy. When you first notice a bite, soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and apply it to the bite right away. The vinegar helps to counteract the histamine (allergic) response and minimizes swelling.
- Apple cider vinegar is usually priced well in supermarkets. Get several 16 oz. bottles of Dynamic Health organic vinegar for $1.99 each and even cheaper with a $10 coupon when you sign up with Vitacost.
The essential oil in catnip, nepetalactone, is more effective at repelling those little blood suckers than the popular chemical-based repellent DEET, according to a study reported by the American Chemical Society.
- You can buy catnip oil at a natural health store or online, but look out–it’s pricey. Catnip is far cheaper to grow at home. Get 1,000 seeds dirt cheap at Amazon for just $0.99. Sow and maintain as directed on the package. You'll get a few summers’ worth of catnip plants out of just one packet. The plant takes a couple weeks to grow, so plan ahead.
- Harvest leaves, crush them and rub against your skin. Also rub onto colored clothing (not whites).
- Grow catnip plants in outdoor sitting areas.
Let this soothing plant do double duty in summer if you suffer a sunburn or a mosquito bite. The plants are inexpensive at gardening centers or grocery stores, are easy to care for, and grow quickly especially if planted outdoors.
- Cut a small bit off one of the leaves, slice it in half to expose the gel and rub it on the mosquito bite as soon as possible to relieve itching and swelling.
- Don’t want to bother with maintaining a plant? Get 30 percent off a 32-oz bottle of Lily of the Desert whole leaf Aloe Vera gel for $6.49 at 4AllVitamins.com.
- Entomologists recommend wearing lighter-colored clothing such as whites, pastels or khaki. Mosquitoes much prefer dark-colored clothing, so avoid them during summer days until after dusk.
- Whenever possible wear natural fibers such as cotton or linen that allow your skin to breathe and reduce buildup of sweat, which mosquitoes love.
Natural Mosquito Nets
If you're wary about rubbing mosquito repellent onto your baby's or toddler's sensitive skin, a mosquito net works wonders in strollers or car seats, cradles and playpens.
- Polyester mosquito nets are more popular than cotton because they're cheaper and more durable.
- If you prefer a natural mosquito net (which keeps your little one cooler), consider buying cotton cheesecloth by the yard at fabric stores or on websites such as Cheesecloth.com. The 90-grade cheesecloth is woven tightly enough to keep mosquitoes out without blocking out the wind. Use long strips of the cheesecloth to tie down your homemade mosquito net around the stroller or car seat.
If you have an allergy to any of the natural herbs listed here, do not use them as mosquito repellents. If you are unsure, apply to only a small area of your skin and wait 24 hours to see if you have any reaction.
This has been a guest post by Andrea from Ontario, Canada
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