Did you know that your spice cabinet might hold the answer to a mosquito-free summer? It’s true! Many herbs and spices are effective insect repellents. Read on to learn how you can make an effective lemongrass mosquito deterrent to banish those beasts from your balcony garden this season.
Skitters, mozzies, swamp angels… call them what you will, mosquitoes are a bane to gardeners far and wide. Unfortunately for us, mosquitoes make their seasonal entrance when we’re busiest getting our gardens started for the season. Although there are many sprays and creams on the market, they’re not exactly ideal.
Fortunately, you can deal with the problem without resorting to chemical-laden products that can harm both yourself and the environment.
Mosquito Health Risks
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying because their bites cause itching and minor swelling. Some unlucky folks are highly allergic to these insects and suffer quite a bit after having been bitten. In addition, mosquitos are increasingly bringing viruses and dangerous bacteria with them, such as West Nile and Zika. In some tropical areas, they can carry even more dangerous diseases, such as malaria.
What do They Like and Dislike?
Interestingly different mosquito species are attracted to different things. The most commonly known attractor is Co2, which we expel with every breath. But did you know that bacteria, sweat and certain hand odours are attractors as well? People with blood type O (yay me) and people who tend to run hotter and sweat more than others are also very attractive to the little buggers. Additionally, people with a higher blood alcohol levels are extremely tempting.
Due to the reasons listed above, some people find themselves to be naturally more attractive to mosquitos than others. Just about everyone will be bitten by mosquitoes at some point, though. Take a look at the following list for some natural ways you can make your time in your garden more enjoyable, or at the very least, bearable!
Lemongrass Mosquito Repellent
Lemongrass, lemon balm, and lemon verbena are all plants that mosquitoes dislike. These plants contain citronella oil which is found in many sprays, candles and lotions. Although simply planting lemongrass on your property won’t provide you with a mosquito-free bubble, it can help.
It will provide a certain measure of relief by keeping biting insects away. Additionally, you can harvest the lemongrass and put it to work in other ways. This plant can grow up to 6ft tall and smells lovely. As a result, adding some to your garden won’t be anything but beneficial. In fact, it works really well used as a privacy wall or to border walkways around your home. Consider it an aromatic welcome with added benefits.
How to Use It
There are tons of products on the market with citronella in them. You’ve likely seen candles, incense coils, and sprays at your local garden centers. In addition, you can make your own spray pretty easily by boiling lemongrass leaves in a pot until the water turns yellow. Leave the liquid to sit overnight, and then pour into a spray bottle for later use.
You can also mix this liquid lemongrass mosquito bane with a base oil. Alternatively, you can experiment with other essential oils and try different scents in a diffuser. I’ve listed some of the herbs that bother and repel mosquitos below. Try mixing them together to see what works best for you, as everyone’s body chemistry is different.
One thing you should never do is burn lemongrass directly. The resulting smoke will not only fail in deterring the mosquitoes, but can cause irritation to your nose and throat. It also smells really unpleasant, so just don’t.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of essential oils. I’m very sensitive and bothered by strong scents, and my skin gets irritated very easily. I have to admit, however, the thought of plugging in a diffuser and stinking the little buggers away is quite appealing. This is especially since I’d be using it outside and not in my house.
Essential oils have become quite a hot topic and are much easier to procure than in the past. There are a number of oils that are distasteful to mosquitos such as lavender, cinnamon, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, and peppermint, just to name a few. If you’re an essential oil enthusiast, try experimenting to see if certain combinations work better than others.
Some plants have chemical makeups that are only potent enough when distilled into an essential oil, but some are strong enough to get the job done on their own. The following is a list of several of these plants:
To most humans the smell of lavender is quite enticing. To the keen-nosed mosquito, however, its musky odour is completely off-putting. Plant lavender throughout your garden for added protection, and make a lemongrass mosquito spray with dried lavender and lemongrass.
Add 3-4 tablespoons of dried lavender and a few pinches of lemongrass to 3-4 cups of water, and simmer. Let the mixture cool before straining out the flowers. Once this is done, put the mixture into a spray bottle and use as needed.
As with many plants from the mint family, this plant has a way of cutting through most other scents. As a result, it makes sense that what most humans find refreshing would be unbearable for mosquitos. Just like with the lavender, you can make a spray by boiling peppermint leaves in water. Just make sure to test your skin for irritation before dousing your entire body.
This plant has a longstanding reputation for repelling mosquitos. It’s another one of those inescapable musky odors in the mint family. If you have a cat and plant this in your yard, your furry friend may just roll in it for you. This will release even more of its pungent scent, fending off the biting jerks.
Nepetalactone, the oil found in catnip, is said to be 10 times more effective than DEET. Take the leaves and rub them on trouble spot such as around the neck, ankles and wrists to good effect. Just beware your neighbourhood felines!
Simply planting garlic won’t be enough to repel insects. Slicing up the cloves and sprinkling the pieces around seating areas, however, can help quite a bit. The scent may not be terribly appealing to humans, but it’s downright unappealing to mosquitoes.
Have you ever noticed that some people smell of garlic after consuming it? For those people, eating garlic can help them to be less attractive to mosquitoes as well. Just take note that you might find yourself less attractive to your friends and partners as well!
Having herbs in the garden is never a bad idea, as they’re so multi-purpose. Now you can add one more reason to add a few of these plants. When adding herbs to your dinner, try throwing a sprig of rosemary on the BBQ. This will create an enjoyable aroma for you, but mosquitoes will avoid it at all costs.
Notice the citrus theme here? Mosquitos plainly don’t like these types of scents. If you know you don’t have sensitive skin, you can pick and crush some of the leaves and rub them right on yourself to act as a repellent. Try rubbing the leaves on hotter areas of the body help to disperse the scent, such as behind the ears and neck. Just make sure to test a small area of your skin for negative reactions before applying to a larger area.
Decrease Your Deliciousness
Along with the natural remedies listed above, there are a few other things that you can do to further decrease your attractiveness to mosquitoes. These insects are attracted to dark colours, so wearing lighter colours while enjoying the outdoors will make you less visually attractive to them.
Since you can’t exactly stop breathing to produce less Co2, cut down on chatter while working outside. Consider gardening as a quiet time activity: a nice way to unwind after a stressful day at work. Carbon dioxide is also emitted through the skin, so when we swipe at the air in an attempt to get rid of the insects, we’re actually telling them right where we are. As a result, less movement is actually better.
Mosquitos are the most active around dusk. So, try to get your outside work done well before the sun goes down. Wear light layers and take them off as needed to avoid raising your temperature and promoting excess sweating.
Clean Up Your Space
You can make the environment in and around your home less attractive as well. Make sure to disperse any standing water, such as puddles that form after a rain storm. These shallow pools are perfect breeding grounds. Try keeping fans on in your home to keep insects moving along. Mosquitos are tiny, and many flying bugs find travelling in wind very difficult.
In addition to using your lemongrass mosquito repellent right on your skin, try spraying some around your space as well.