lavender

Natural mosquito and midge repellents

A while back I posted about the wild leek being a great natural mosquito repellent. It can be a little tricky to find though so here are some other natural ways to keep the bites away. While Summer is struggling to really find a foothold in Ireland this year, the gnats, midges and mosquitoes are out in force.

Why not use the chemical sprays and gels?

Well, most of them are based on a chemical called DEET which has been linked to damage to brain cells and changes in behaviour, and smells (and tastes) pretty bad.

The best natural insect repellents are oil based and I suggest testing them on a small patch of skin first in case you have an allergic reaction to them.

1. Citronella
2. Lavender (pictured)
3. Organic soy oil—Research cited in The New England Journal of Medicine found that repellents made of soybean oil are just as effective as DEET-containing repellents. Soy oil is inexpensive and easy to find, making it an excellent choice. Plus, it is an excellent body moisturizer. As an aside, research shows that an ingredient in soy can slow the growth of body hair when applied topically.  Choose organic soy oil if possible since many soy crops are now genetically-modified.
4.Black pepper (Piper nigrum)—New research from the same study shows that an extract (the study used an alcohol extract but black pepper essential oil would probably work too) of black pepper is effective in repelling mosquitoes.
5. Neem oil or neem seed oil:  According to a study by the US National Research Council neem oil is more effective than DEET.  The results were confirmed by scientists at the Malaria Institute in India and in research cited in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. Neem is a plant that grows in India
6. 7. Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)—New research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine shows that lotus is an effective mosquito repellent and also helps kill mosquito larvae.  Since lotus grows in water it is a good option as a natural repellent in backyard ponds and water features rather than something that is applied topically.

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