We spend a lot of time outdoors, grilling zucchini and asparagus, going for hikes, tossing pebbles into the river, eating a picnic, camping, or taking a walk in the cool morning air. But we aren’t the only ones out there, and our grilled veggies aren’t the only thing on the menu. We top the list of favorite foods for way too many biting and stinging insects, but the true nemesis of our fun is the tiny mosquito. This buzzing pest spoils outdoor parties or pleasant walks along the lake every time. Don’t let mosquitos or other biting insects get you down or force you indoors. Keep them away naturally, without relying on chemical laden sprays.
- Screens – Screens allow the outside air in without the pests. Use them if you have them. Put them up around a porch if you can. Crack your windows and enjoy the fresh air without fear.
- Clothing – Clothing is one of the best preventions of bug bites. Wear long sleeves, pants, socks, and shoes. A hat and a scarf can help too. Yes, it may not always be practical, but you don’t have to go with thick fabric and layers when it’s warm out. A little cloth goes a long way, just choose loose-fitting outfits that breathe well while still keeping the insects from your skin.
- Avoid Them – You can dodge many bugs. Avoid being outside during dusk and dawn. This is the time insects are most active. Stick to trails and don’t go off in the underbrush if you want to avoid ticks, fleas, and plants like poison ivy. Look around before you lay down that blanket over an anthill. Don’t get too close to standing water, especially when you know the mosquitos are out.
- Nutrition – Avoiding the little biters isn’t always possible, but what you eat can affect how attractive of a meal you make to them. Apple cider vinegar, garlic, and B vitamins, especially B1, all seem to make your skin less snackable.
- Smoke – No, I’m not saying you should lite up a cigarette, but a little smoke can keep insects at bay. The person at the grill is less likely to get bit. Light a tiki torch or even a candle. Citronella candles work great, but even a scentless candle will help.
- Install a Fan – Have you watched a mosquito fly? They aren’t terribly good at it, but they still manage to find you when you sit still or walk slowly. Make it harder for them by installing a fan on your porch, deck, or patio. At least you’ll be safe somewhere outside.
- Soap Up – Make the perfect insect repellent out of soap and essential oils. This will keep you clean and pest free without having to spray yourself down all the time. Just add 10 to 50 drops of essential oil to liquid castile soap and scrub away. You can also add many of these to the shampoos or body washes that you currently use. Unsure which essential oils to use? Try lemon balm, citronella, lemon grass, cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, orange, catnip, lavender, pennyroyal, or a combination of any of these.
- Make Repellent – You can easily make your own repellent without any DEET to worry about. Just use the essential oils listed above. Add 20–50 drops to a spray bottle filled with a 50/50 mix of witch hazel and distilled water. Choose your favorites from above and go for a scent you enjoy. Shake it and spray it on every hour or so. You can also make a smaller batch by adding a few drops to grape seed oil or olive oil and just dabbing it on your neck and arms.
- Herbs – Fresh herbs make for amazing cooking, but they can also keep you from being eaten alive. Rub the crushed flowers or leaves from lavender, lemon grass, rosemary, lemon balm, or basil on your skin for a quick insect repellent that leaves you smelling fantastic.
- Tea – Many of these same herbs make amazing teas that have plenty of benefits all their own. You can drink them and get some protection from the pests as a small amount of the essential oils makes its way through your bloodstream to your skin. You can also let the tea cool and dab or spritz it on your body and clothes to keep the pests away.
- Lose the Water – Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos and can draw other insects too, like biting flies. Make sure your ground is sloped to move rainwater away from you without pooling. Drain the kiddie pools when they’re not in use and cover anything that can collect water.
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