With the arrival of warmer months, outdoors lovers are faced with the question: how to protect themselves from mosquitoes?
Chemical sprays and anti-mosquito fumigators are quite popular and very easy to get. They are very effective too but you shouldn’t forget that they emit chemicals into the air you breathe. That’s not very good for you, especially if you’re prone to allergies. You also don’t want to expose your children to them.
This means it’s time to use natural yet effective remedies. One of the most effective and safe means of protection against insects is natural essential oils. The principle is quite simple: insects can’t stand their distinctive smell. Let’s find out which oils are the most effective when it comes to fighting mosquitoes.
Why do plants even need essential oils?
For plants, these oily substances have two main functions: protection and assistance in reproduction. They protect plants both against pathogens (bacteria and fungi) and herbivorous animals. They also attract certain kinds of insects that carry pollen. The aroma cloud enveloping plants attracts some creatures but keeps others at a distance.
Unsurprisingly, components of some essential oils are included in industrial insect repellents. The plants cope with the external threat so effectively that repellents created by nature are even used in agriculture to control insect pests.
Many chemical components of essential oils are also synthesized by insects and function as pheromones, with the help of which insects attract the opposite sex or warn their kind of danger. This is how the laws of evolution work: nature reproduces the most effective solutions over and over again.
To protect against bacteria and viruses, we successfully use aromatherapy products. But our own nervous system is affected by essential oils in a similar way. Some of them act as stimulants, others as sedatives. We are also programmed to respond to the components of these fragrant substances at the level of receptors, neurochemicals, enzymes, and hormones. This means that the most effective essential oil repellents might not be safe for humans either. Keep this in mind when choosing insect protection.
What essential oils work against mosquitoes?
Contrary to popular belief, lavender, geranium, tea tree, and many other oils advertised by vendors as effective insect repellents are not very effective You can try it but if you’re going to visit your country house and take these as your only protection against hungry mosquitoes, think twice.
Lavender and tea tree are useful in case you’ve already been bitten. They can help relieve itching and irritation.
If you’re unsure of the properties of an aromatic essence, take a commercial repellent with you, at least as insurance in case the experiment goes awry.
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is a recognized repellent. Its effectiveness is ensured by p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD), which is used in industrial repellents. Fun fact: natural organic lemon eucalyptus essential oil has a concentration of PMD that is too low to effectively repel mosquitoes. In working repellents based on lemon eucalyptus, the PMD concentration is artificially increased to 60% and the natural essential oil is far from being as effective.
Catnip is very effective, but it is very rare and expensive, alas.
Lemongrass, cinnamon bark, cassia, and clove also work, but you shouldn’t apply them directly to the skin as they can cause irritations and allergic reactions.
Peppermint, turmeric, citronella are safer but less effective. Many oils work better when paired, for example:
- citronella and spherical eucalyptus,
- sweet basil and spherical eucalyptus,
- cinnamon and lemongrass.
Essential oil blends to repel mosquitoes
Remember that using combinations of essential oils is always more effective than using a single one. You can always choose a blend to suit your taste!
1. Mint Lavender
4 drops peppermint
4 drops lavender
A gentle fresh scent with a slight sweetness! Good for sleeping, relaxing, and soothing.
2. Summer Solstice
2 drops peppermint
4 drops lavender
4 drops rosemary
3. Goodbye mosquitoes!
3 drops eucalyptus
3 drops lemongrass
3 drops thyme
3 drops basil
This is a good repellent against mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects.
4. Insects have no place here
5 drops peppermint
5 drops lemongrass
5 drops tea tree
8 drops citronella
This repellent is especially powerful for those cases you need to get rid of a lot of pesky bloodsuckers.
5. Breathe easy
2 drops lavender
2 drops lemongrass
2 drops eucalyptus
6. Bloodsucker knockdown
1 drop peppermint
2 drops cinnamon
3 drops geranium
4 drops citronella
7. Mosquitoes, get out!
2 drops geranium
3 drops lavender
4 drops patchouli
5 drops citronella
8. Away with anxiety
2 d. peppermint
3 d. orange
4 d. frankincense
5 d. lemongrass
This blend will help reduce anxiety (even if it wasn’t caused by mosquitoes) and get rid of the annoying insects.
9. Deep breath
2 d. peppermint
2 d. lemon
2 d. lavender
10. Purity and freshness
3 d. peppermint
3 d. lemon
2 d. tea tree
How to use essential oils or blends against mosquitoes?
The easiest war is to dissolve an oil blend in alcohol or vodka and spray your clothes or room. You can also use an aroma lamp or aroma diffuser. Make wax sachets or a spray.
How long do essential oils last on skin and clothing?
It all depends on the specific essential oil, concentration, wind strength, humidity, etc. Usually about 2 hours. It’s better to use blends.
Indoors, you can turn on an aroma diffuser or an aroma lamp and leave it gradually releasing the fragrance. Or you can sprinkle the bedclothes with your favorite blend and then there can be protection for the whole night.
Are essential oils safe for children?
Not all of them are. For babies, it’s best to sprinkle diluted oils on clothing or bedding. Never apply essential oils to the skin undiluted! The safest essential oils for children are considered to be lavender, cedar, and Chinese peppermint.
Are essential oils safe for pets?
Again, not all of them are. Different oils can have toxic effects on different animals (cats or dogs).
Always make sure your pets can leave the room where you use essential oils.
NB: tea tree, peppermint, pine, thyme, clove, cinnamon are toxic, especially to small animals.