Mosquito Management

Natural Alternatives for Mosquito Management

The summer months are upon us—sunshine, Bar-B-Qs, and …mosquitoes! With reports of mosquito-carried diseases such as West Nile Virus, which killed 124 people in 2007,1 many consumers turn to bug repellants available on the market. Some sprays, however, carry insecticides such as DEET, Permethrin and Picaridin, and may do more harm than good to human health.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Pesticide Information Profile Extension Toxicology Network, DEET has the potential to cause rashes, breathing difficulties, neurotoxic effects, and even death, especially in susceptible individuals and those overusing the chemical. Studies have also shown that the chemical is transported from the skin to all organs of the body, enters the brain, can be transferred to babies via breast milk, and can even reach the fetus.2, 3
What other options are available?
With studies and stories documenting the negative effects of DEET and other insecticides, consider other options for deterring mosquitoes and other pests. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bug repellants using oil of lemon eucalyptus as their main ingredient, such as Repel Lemon Eucapyptus insect repellant, were found to provide similar protection to those using low concentrations of DEET.4
Several other options also use a more natural and traditional approach to repelling mosquitoes and other pests such as ticks and flies:
Bite BlockerTM
Using soybean oil, coconut oil, and geranium oil, this product has been shown to keep bugs away for an average of 95 minutes. Several options, including formulas for kids and pets, are available in retail stores and online at
Burts Bees Herbal Insect RepellantTM
Eucalyptus and lemongrass repel mosquitoes in this oil that is rubbed onto the skin.
Essential oils: lemon eucalyptus, cedar wood, lemongrass, rosemary, clove, frankincense and peppermint
Dilute 10 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (such as grape seed or vegetable oil) to prevent skin irritation that may occur from using the concentrated oil directly on your skin.
Neem oil:
Neem Aura Naturals Bug Disenchanter, Neem Tree Farms Botanical Outdoor Gel or Spray
Long seen as a solution to many health problems, Neem oil can also keep bugs at bay. Current research classifies Neem oil as relatively non-toxic, with even high amounts not causing problems. Caution is recommended for women of child bearing age and families trying to conceive.6
Catnip oil: Nature’s Herbal Mosquito & Insect Shield
Catnip oil has been shown by the American Chemical Society and USDA to be nearly as effective as DEET in repelling bugs without the harmful side effects.7
What else can I do?
To manage mosquitoes and other pests in your yard, take the following precautions:
  • Plant insect-repelling plants in your garden. Marigolds, geraniums, catnip, citronella grass, and mosquito plants naturally keep bugs away and look beautiful in your garden. Peppermint, lemon balm (citronella), rosemary, thyme, and other herbs also have mosquito-repelling properties. You can also crush the leaves of these plants to release the oils and put them in alcohol to make an insect-repelling spray.
  • Burn sandalwood sticks in your yard.
  • Eliminate standing water from your yard and neighborhood—this is where mosquito eggs flourish and eventually hatch.
  • Don’t wear lotions and perfumes while outdoors—the scents often attract mosquitoes and flies.
  • Burn citronella candles in outside areas with low wind.
  • Keep screens in doors and windows in good condition and sealed around the perimeter so mosquitoes and flies cannot enter the house.

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