Summer is in full swing here in Utah and you know what that means—barbecues, swimming and… mosquitoes! So what do you do? Reach for your bug spray, right? Well, maybe not anymore.
Some rather disappointing news was released this week regarding a study on DEET (the most common active ingredient in basically all insect repellants) and its effectiveness to keep mosquitoes at bay. This new research proved that within three hours of exposure to DEET repellents, mosquitoes have become desensitized and are no longer repelled by DEET. This means that even if you reapply spray with DEET after three hours it will not be effective if you’re in the same are with the same mosquitoes.
So now what? Check out some of these tried and true natural remedies.
Vetiver Essential Oil
Research has found that when compared to DEET-based solutions, vetiver was more effective than any of the chemical repellents or insecticides at repelling mosquitoes. In fact, it repelled over 95 percent of some species of mosquitoes, which was far more than other chemicals tested.
What is vetiver? Glad you asked, I had to google it myself! Vetiver is an essential oil obtained from the root of an Indian grass, used in perfumery and aromatherapy and known to have numerous health benefits. Now we both know!
Catnip Essential Oil
You may be surprised to hear that your cat’s favorite treat is actually a natural mosquito repellant as well! In a study published by the Journal of Vector Ecology, catnip was comparable to DEET and the insecticide chemicals used against mosquitoes but was actually more effective than either chemical against some types of mosquitoes. Other research has found that catnip is actually ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
You may need to fend off your cat you but you won’t be bothered by mosquitoes!
Hairy Basil Essential Oil
Hairy basil is one of many varieties of basil plants but this one specifically has been found to effectively keep mosquitoes away as well as DEET (there was no mention of any desensitization to hairy basil oil in this study, though). In other studies, researchers found that hairy basil oil repelled mosquitoes faster than any other substance tested.
Neem Essential Oil
According to the Journal of Vector Ecology, ten percent neem oil mixed in coconut oil, when applied to the exposed body parts of human volunteers, provided complete protection for 12 hours from the bites of all types of mosquitoes. Application of neem oil is safe and can be even used for protection from malaria in certain countries!
And… what’s Neem? Neem essential oil comes from the neem tree of the mahogany family, Meliaceae. It grows quickly, thus is often referred to as a weed tree and comes from India.
New to essential oils? Here’s how to use them:
Add 10 drops to 4 ounces of the carrier oil of your choice, including: almond, avocado, grapeseed, or coconut oil. Test the spray on the inside of your wrist before applying in larger amounts to your body to be sure it won’t irritate your skin, if you have sensitive skin. Allergy issues with these oils is rare but it’s better to be safe and double check first. Once you’re good to know you can apply the oil mixture to any exposed areas prior to going outdoors and reapply as necessary.