Summer is in full swing, and with it are the bugs. Mosquitoes and other annoying, biting insects can ruin anyone’s day or night. With the fear of West Nile and other mosquito transmitted viral diseases, prevention is key.

There are several options available to help keep the biting bugs, especially mosquitoes, away.

Natural Sprays & Essential Oils 

Many Moms want chemical-free alternatives to fight off the pests. While they can be effective in most situations, many are not recommended for deep woods hiking or when you’re near bodies of water that are known to be mosquito magnets. They also seem to be more effective on certain people than others, so don’t give up on trying to find one that works.

You can also make your own using a few essential oils that are known to ward off mosquitoes. These include citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, geranium oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, cedar oil and rosemary oil. Using a combination of several seems to be the most effective, but try it on a small area first because some people are sensitive to these oils.

Natural repellents require reapplication at least every 90 minutes for maximum effectiveness. A few are not recommended for children under 3 such as lemon eucalyptus. For babies under 3 months, you can use mosquito netting on strollers and seats.

Picaridin and IR3535

Picaridin or IR3535 are the main ingredients in other bug repellents, such as Avon’s Bug Guard. They can work up to 8 hours. Picaridin has been shown to very effective. Consumer Reports ranked one with Picaridin with an overall score of 87 however the DEET repellents took the top 4 spots with scores of 98. Picaridin is safe for children over 2 years old, has low toxicity, doesn’t cause irritation and is almost odorless.IR3535 is also shown to be safe and effective. There are also a few products with¬†Piperidine, formulated for people with sensitive skin, that work just as well as Picaridin, though it may be harder to find in stores.

DEET Based Formulas

Deet has been used in the United States since 1957, but there is some controversy its safety. The American Academy of Pediatric says children as young as 2 months can use Deet in a formula up to 30%. When going to areas with high West Nile incidence, or even just in the woods, Deet is a choice for many families world wide.

Bracelets and Body Clips

Off makes a clip on mosquito repellent that uses an ingredient called metofluthrin, which is a vapor based repellent that provides head to toe protection without spraying.

Tips to Keep the Bugs Away

  • Don’t wear dark clothing. Mosquitoes use vision to locate a good host, so dark clothing and being near dark leafy greens is how they will find you. Wearing long pants and long sleeves is also highly recommended at sunset when mosquitoes are very active.
  • Mosquitoes detect CO2, so when you are sweaty they are more than happy to come visit.
  • Mosquitoes love floral fragrances so ditch the body sprays and perfumes in the summer. You may also want to consider unscented dryer sheets, sunscreens, body lotions and hair products. Try to go as “natural” as possible in summer.
  • Remove any standing water in the backyard. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. Dump all excess water in bird baths, planters and anything you see. Mosquito dunks should always be used in places that store water around your yard. They kill larvae and last for 30 days at a time. Pick them up at hardware stores.