Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes Naturally without DEET



For those of you who have traveled in groups, you may have noticed the curious insect bite phenomenon whereby there’s always at least one person who escapes untouched and at least one other who is awake and scratching until sunrise.

For those of you in the latter category, let’s take a look at what the causes are and what you can do to keep the little beggars away. The modern response is simply to apply insect repellent and then plod on as usual. However the main active ingredient in many deterrents is DEET (N,N‐Diethyl‐meta‐toluamide) which can be a potential skin irritant ‐ especially when you apply it to damaged or sun burnt skin. You might therefore want to use a more natural solution ‐ which can be just as effective.
 
Mosquito Attractants

Use this list of items and activities that attract mosquitoes as a list of things to avoid or that can be used as bait to lure mosquitoes away from you. 
  • Dark Clothing Many mosquitoes use vision to locate hosts from a distance. Dark clothes and foliage are initial attractants.  
  • Carbon Dioxide You give off more carbon dioxide when you are hot or have been exercising. A burning candle or other fire is another source of carbon dioxide. Therefore those mosquito repellent candles might actually attract them. 
  • Lactic Acid You release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain foods (e.g., salty foods, high-potassium foods).
  • Floral or Fruity Fragrances In addition to perfumes, hair products, and scented sunscreens, watch for the subtle floral fragrance from fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
  • Skin Temperature The exact temperature depends on the type of mosquito. Many mosquitoes are attracted to the slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities.
  • Moisture Mosquitoes are attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also because it increases the humidity around your body. Even small amounts of water (e.g., moist plants or mud puddles) will draw mosquitoes. Standing water also allows mosquitoes to reproduce.
Natural Repellents

It's very easy to
make your own natural mosquito repellent. These natural products will effectively repel mosquitoes, but they require more frequent reapplication (at least every 2 hours) and higher concentrations than DEET. Because of the differences between types of mosquitoes, products that contain multiple repellents tend to be more effective than those containing a single ingredient. As you can see, natural repellents tend to be volatile plant oils.
  • Citronella Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Cedar Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Oregano Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic.
  • Another plant-derived substance, pyrethrum, is an insecticide. Pyrethrum comes from the flowers of the daisy Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.
cinnamon oil
cinnamon oil can be used as an environmentally friendly pesticide, with the ability to kill mosquito larvae more effectively than DEET, research in Taiwan shows. Cinnamaldehyde is the main constituent in cinnamon leaf oil and is used worldwide as a food additive and flavoring agent. A formulation using the compound could be sprayed just like a pesticide, but without the potential for adverse health effects, plus the added bonus of a pleasant smell say scientists at the National University of Taiwan. This bug spray  adds cinnamon oil to it's formulation.

oil of lemon eucalyptus
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol or PMD) is the only plant-based active ingredient for insect repellents approved by the CDC. It is derived from lemon eucalyptus leaves and is found in a variety of repellents throughout the U.S. Studies show that this oil is as strong as DEET in lower concentrations like 30-50%, which makes it an ideal alternative to people who want to stay away from chemicals. Not recommended for children under 3. Repel sells a repellant spray with this oil.

soy based products
A 2002 study of mosquito repellents found that the soy-based Bite Blocker was the most effective natural alternative to DEET. This natural bug repellent offered more than 90 minutes of protection, better than some low-concentration DEET products.

bioUD
BioUD is a naturally occurring substance derived from wild tomato plants that can be used to effectively repel mosquitoes, ticks and other arthropods. According to a scientific evaluation of insect repellents and insect control products performed by Arcturus Testing in July of 2005, BioUD outperformed all non-DEET products ever tested by the company on mosquitoes. In U.S. testing conducted over a year, BioUD tested 100% repellent against mosquitoes after application up to 3 hours and 99% effective up to 4.5 hours in forest and marsh conditions. BioUD outperformed Off Botanicals and DEET in testing against mosquitoes at six hours post application.

Eat to Repel Mosquitoes

sage
Sage is an herb that can be used to repel mosquitoes. Sage can be added to food or planted in areas where you are trying to repel mosquitoes. Sage oil can also be applied to the skin or clothing to repel insect.


celery seed

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, celery seed can act as a mosquito repellent. Celery seed can consumed fresh, dried or in supplement form. In addition to this, the essential oil from the celery seed can be applied to the skin or clothing for use as an insect repellent.

vitamin b1

There’s at least one study indicating that taking 100 mg of vitamin B-1—or thiamine—a day keeps mosquitoes at bay. It seems that when we consume large quantities some is excreted in our perspiration creating an odor that repulses bugs (humans can't smell it) Other studies have shown it reduces itching caused by bites. While the research is not conclusive, thiamine is good for your overall health.

garlic

There is strong anecdotal evidence that simply consuming more garlic can help to prevent mosquito bites. This is not simply a case of mosquitos being averse to garlic breath. If you eat a large amount of garlic then it actually seeps out through the pores of your skin. Some people think that this invisible layer of garlic oil might create a natural barrier cream. Any mosquitoes which do find you will think twice before taking a bite.

eat less potassium

Everyone needs potassium, but eating foods that are not high in potassium on days that you will be spending mostly outdoors will help remove your mosquito target. Mosquitoes are attracted to potassium, so try limiting intake of these commonly consumed high-potassium foods before a venture into the outdoors: baked beans, bananas, cantaloupe, chocolate, honeydew melon, milk, peanut butter, potatoes, raw carrots, tomatoes, and yogurt.

repel mosquitoes by losing weight
In the 1990s, chemist Ulrich Bernier, now employed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, began searching for what attracts mosquitos to humans.


His research showed they're drawn by a potpourri of common compounds, the most important one being carbon dioxide, which we expel through our mouth and skin as a waste product.


Simply put, the greater a person's mass, the more carbon dioxide they expel. This spreads through the air and can catch the attention of mosquitos from great distances, sending them toward a person. Adults expel more than children, and the overweight expel more than the trim.


Detecting carbon dioxide is the first step in a mosquito's hunt, but when they get closer they're are other factors at play.


repel mosquitoes with better diet
Unfortunately for us, our stench plays a significant role in attracting mosquitos, Conlon said.


Each person's body odor is in part a matter of genetics, but so too is it controlled by diet.


Although there's no guarantee mosquitos and women perceive smells in the same way, at least one study showed meat consumption increases the body odor of men (as perceived by women) while simultaneously causing the smell to be judged as significantly less attractive and less pleasant compared to those not consuming meat.


There are numerous smells that known to attract mosquitos, Conlon said.
"Limberger cheese is a big attractant," he said. "Indeed, they're attracted to dirty feet and body odor in general - there's a reason you want to wash."

The body gives off over 300 compounds which can be combined in numerous ways to make smells, Conlon said, and researchers have not even begun to grapple with which combinations mosquitos like best, or how diet ties into the smells given off.

However, "One of the things mosquitos are looking for in the blood meal is cholesterol," he said.  "And ticks are definitely looking for cholesterol. If you have a higher plasma cholesterol level, that's more amenable."

So how do you get lower blood cholesterol levels? The human body produces its own cholesterol, but levels are elevated to unnatrual heights by the consumption of animal-based foods. Altering your diet to exclude meat, dairy and eggs has been shown to significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels.


lastly...
Foods rich in sugar and alcohol highly attract mosquitoes. Avoid consuming those. Conversely, intake of repellant foods such as brewer’s yeast, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar and lemon can help keep mosquitoes away. 
  
Things that Lower Repellent Effectiveness 
  • Many Sunscreens
  • Dilution from Rain, Perspiration, or Swimming
  • Absorption into the Skin
  • Evaporation from Wind or High Temperatures
Keep in mind that 'natural' does not automatically imply 'safe'. Many people are sensitive to plant oils. Some natural insect repellents are actually toxic. Therefore, although natural repellents provide an alternative to synthetic chemicals, please remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions when using these products.

Why Deet is Best to be Avoided

In a study, published in the journal BMC Biology, scientists experimenting with rodents found that DEET blocked the enzyme cholinesterase that is essential for the transmitting of messages from the brain to the muscles. Chemicals that interfere with the action of cholinesterase can cause excessive salivation and eye-watering in low doses, followed by muscle spasms and ultimately death.

Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, France said: "We've found that DEET is not simply a behaviour-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, in both insects and mammals".

Given that natural bug repellents like oil of lemon eucalyptus work just as well, DEET should be avoided on a daily basis.

If you do decide to use a DEET insect repellent, do it wisely. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using repellents with no more than a 30% concentration of DEET for kids over 2 months. Don't apply insect repellent to kids younger than 2 months.  If you're not going to be outdoors as long, you may want to choose a repellent with a lower concentration of DEET. A 10% concentration of DEET protects for about two hours.

If possible to put repellents with DEET on your clothing instead of your skin. Look for a pump spray instead of aerosol, so your child doesn't breathe in as much of the chemical. Don't apply DEET to your child's hands, and always wash your own hands after touching a DEET insect repellent – especially before handling food. Wash your child's skin to remove any repellent when they come back indoors.


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10 comments:

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