Recent studies have linked DEET-based mosquito repellents to brain and neurological damage. So what can you do to avoid mosquitoes without exposing yourself to the dangerous effects of DEET? Luckily, there are several ways that mother nature can help, here are some top natural mosquito repellents:
- Citronella - Use only pure essential oil of citronella (not fragrance oil). It is best to get a high quality citronella essential oil from a natural food store.
- Soy Oil - The New England Journal of Medicine reported that natural 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. Organic soy oil is best.
- Lemon Balm - A good, less expensive choice for a homegrown mosquito repellent may be lemon balm. Lemon balm is easy to grow from seeds and contains citronellal, geraniol and geranial.
- Catnip - The American Chemical Society has reported that an Iowa State University research group showed that the essential oil found in the herb catnip is about 10 times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes in the laboratory.
- NEEM Seed Oil (neem oil) - Extracted from a plant that grows in India. An ingredient in Neem seed oil has also been found to be more effective than DEET by researchers at the Malaria Institute in India. Both the US National Research Council and the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association have confirmed this finding.
- Lavender essential oil - Has a nice smell and is a commonly used and effective mosquito repellent.
- Garlic - Eating lots of fresh garlic will keep the mosquitoes away.
- Geraniums - Art Tucker, research professor at Delaware State University and coauthor of The Big Book of Herbs, confirms that rose-scented geraniums (Pelargonium x asperum, sometimes sold as P. graveolens) contain both citronellal, which is similar to citronellal, and geraniol. By rubbing your hands through the leaves, it will keep the mosquitoes away.
- Basil; lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus); lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) - These herbs can be crushed and rubbed on the skin to repel mosquitoes for short periods - usually less than 30 minutes. (Always use any herb with caution until you know how your skin will react.)