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Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes This Summer

Don’t you just hate the feeling of slathering your skin with chemically-laced bug spray and sunscreen right after getting out of shower? Not only do those products make your skin sticky and gross, but they can also be toxic to more than just the insects you’re targeting.

But alas, it’s summer, and sunshine and bugs are what the season is all about in so many parts of the country. You’d think that there would be a better way to keep flying pests away by now, because no one enjoys swatting bugs while spending time outdoors or itching those swollen red bumps after they’ve flown away.

Photo credit: Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr

Photo credit: Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr

When summer rolls around, most people turn to store-bought insect repellents to handle this situation. But did you know that the chemicals that repel insects in many of these bottles can be toxic for humans too? DEET has been linked to headaches, fatigue, joint pain, shortness of breath, and many other disturbing side effects. And it’s particular dangerous for children, the elderly, and anyone with a weak immune system.

You’d think there was a better way, and fortunately there is. Natural mosquito repellents are easily accessible, non-toxic, and often made with ingredients that you already have around the house. So put away that bottle of DEET and give some of these natural mosquito repellents a try this summer instead.


Citronella is one of the most well-known natural mosquito repellents and one of the most effective ones too. Simply light a candle around your picnic or campground table to release a natural aroma that mosquitoes hate. You can find citronella candles at many retail stores, or if you’re looking for a DIY project, you can even make your own citronella candles at home.

Photo credit: Logan Ingalls via Flickr

Photo credit: Logan Ingalls via Flickr


Lavender is one of several herbs that is an effective insect repellent, and its lovely smell makes it great for the skin. Pick up some lavender essential oil and add about 30 drops to two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to rub into your skin.


Another great herb that repels insects is rosemary, which is especially convenient if you’re cooking out. You can add some rosemary to the coals of your grill to add flavor to your food and also give off an aroma that keeps mosquitoes away.

Tea Tree Oil

Mosquitoes also don’t like the smell of tea tree oil; however, this oil is very beneficial for humans. Soak ribbons or other pieces of fabric in tea tree oil to tie around your windows or even around your ankles to prevent mosquito bites.


If you have a pet cat, you’re probably already familiar with the power of catnip. But even if you don’t, you might want to plant some around your yard because it naturally repels mosquitoes. They hate the smell of the essential oil, nepetalactone, and of course your cat will thank you too.


As anyone who’s eaten a lot of garlic in a meal knows, that smell sticks with you for a while and is actually released from your pores after you’re done eating. Although some people have an aversion to the smell, you should know that mosquitoes do too.

Photo credit: Julie Gibbons via Flickr

Photo credit: Julie Gibbons via Flickr


Around the house, plant some basil to help keep mosquitoes out of your yard. Herb gardens near your doors and windowsills create a calming effect and also act as natural mosquito repellents.

Lemon Balm

Another thing you can plant around the yard to repel insects is lemon balm, which thrives in the sunshine and partial shade. This plant contains the compound you find in citronella candles, so it’s a cost effective way to get the benefits of citronella without having to buy new candles all summer long. You can pick off the leaves and rub them directly onto your skin when you’re getting ready to leave the yard.


And when all else fails, invest in a good old fashioned fan! Even a small fan on a low setting has the power to blow mosquitoes away from you.

In addition to all these natural remedies to try to keep mosquitoes away, you should also avoid using strong-smelling perfumes, lotions, and soaps when spending time outdoors. Mosquitoes’ favorite times of day are in the earning morning and around sunset, so cover yourself with protective clothing especially at these times. Wear light-colored clothing in areas notorious for having insects as well because mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors.

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