Thursday, August 4, 2011

The DEET alternative: Natural Mosquito Repellents

First off, many of you have been very supportive of the studying/work/exam craziness that has been my life recently. I really appreciate it, so thanks for all your comments and emails over the last little while. To all you faithful blog followers, thanks for being understanding and patient towards my recent scattered posting habits.

Secondly, as some of you may know, the Canadian August long weekend is one of my favourite times of the year. Why? Because that means it's camping time! Every year, Andrew and I head to an awesome camping festival that often ends up being an annual highlight. While river dips, drum circles, and fire pit dancing could be my recap of the trip, I usually end up writing a more useful mosquito post. So here goes:

Last year, I shared some of my successful strategies to naturally avoid getting bitten by mosquitos by focusing on light coloured clothes, staying clean, and minor dietary changes.

The most common diet tip is not to eat potassium-rich foods for the few days leading up to your outdoor excursion. Given my new habits this year, imagine being a banana-crazy eating LFRVer... how likely do you think THAT was going to happen? Last year, I avoided potassium-rich foods for a whole 10 days (5 days leading up to the trip and during our 5 days of camping). This year I managed to go without my naners for 48 hours + our 5 day trip, and though my results weren't quite what they were last time, I'm still happy because I found out some new and very useful information.

Because I've got the diet down, my tips this year are mostly aromatic. However, remember that with natural foods, you're just as well off taking these things internally as you are externally. When mosquitos swarm around your delicate flesh they are repulsed as much by the external smell as they are of what they can smell is in your blood:
  • Taking my B12 supplements is a bonus! I can't remember why, but I found a number of sources saying that something about B12 turns mosquitos off.
  • Neem oil is a good mosquito repellent, though it might repel your friends and family who aren't too keen on the smell either. You can either take it internally or wear it.
  • Other icky-to-mosquito tastes and smells? The list is actually quite long: thyme, rosemary, witch hazel, citronella, tea tree, catmint, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and lavender.
My strategy? Making a rosemary, thyme vinaigrette for our salads every night, wearing a lavender-based lotion during the day, and preparing a couple batches of cinnamon, clove, and allspice applesauce (a low-potassium fruit!) for the first couple days there, and dousing myself with an organic witch hazel, citronella, tea tree repellent at dusk. Take that!

At this point, I honestly think I've covered all my bases! The only thing I think we can add at this point, is if we surrounded our tent with potted plants of all those herbs mentioned above... that would certainly be pretty... If the mosquitos still bite me, kudos to them for putting up with all of that... or maybe I'm just that delicious!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chantal
    look out here and you see we have commercially  developed a natural repellent using neem (and chrysanthemums) and it dosen't smell of neem which we all agree is rather strong. You may also be interested in the blog we run at Hopefully you will find some interesting and different angles on mosquitoes and other aspects of looking after yourself.
    Enjoyed the blog , keep up the good work
    Best Regards