natural bug deterrents

5 Natural Bug Deterrents For Your Family This Summer

Want to keep away itchy, red mosquito bites this summer without using a ton of smelly chemical insect spray? Natural bug deterrents can make a big difference in how you enjoy your summer activities. Consider using any combination of these simple, effective tactics to keep your family safe from mosquitoes and their accompanying diseases.


Eliminate All Standing Water

Mosquitoes can’t breed without standing water. You may be surprised at just how many mosquitos you can eliminate near your home this way. Look for hidden areas of standing water in your yard — no sprays or insecticides required.

Sneaky standing water culprits include low areas where long-term puddles form (such as around tree roots or in wooded areas). Also check empty flower pots, bird baths, and even clogged gutters.

If you have standing water nearby that you can’t eliminate, such as a pond, consider adding a product such as Mosquito Dunks. Mosquito dunks contain a type of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae. However, they won’t harm birds, fish, and other aquatic animals.

Another suggestion: If you’re on good terms with your neighbors, consider offering to drop some mosquito dunks in adjacent yards with standing water. Treating your own yard won’t do much if there’s standing next door.


Cover Your Skin

Perhaps this isn’t the solution you were hoping for during the summer months, but sometimes the best natural bug deterrents are the simplist. Mosquitos can’t bite if they can’t reach your skin. Investing in lightweight and breathable pants and long-sleeved shirts can be a nice, simple way to keep mosquitos away, or at least reduce the amount of bug spray you need.

Consider that mosquitos can still bite through some lightweight or tight-fitting clothing, so simply covering up may not be enough. Many companies make clothes designed specifically to help the wearer avoid mosquito bites. Note that these clothes contain peremethrin, however, which isn’t considered “natural” by most standards. For more on this type of clothing, check out this Consumer Reports report.


Avoid High Mosquito Activity Times

If you don’t mind the heat, you may avoid a lot of mosquitos. Although it depends on your region, mosquitoes generally avoid activity in the middle of the day. Heat and bright sunlight can dehydrate and kill them. Keep an eye out for the pesky Asian tiger mosquito, though, because it does bite during the morning and late afternoon. (Check out this article for more about mosquito activity times.)

It not exactly fun to avoid going outside during what can often be the most pleasant times of the day during the summer — the early morning and the evening when it’s cooler. But if you want to hit the pool during peak heat hours, the mosquitos may not bother you much.


Add a Fan

Mosquitos are ill-equipped to fly through wind. Even a slight breeze makes it much more difficult for them to land and draw blood. Add a ceiling fan or an oscillating fan to any place your family enjoys sitting outdoors (patios, porches). The addition can make a big difference, as this New York Times writer discovered.

Just make sure that the fan is multidirectional and covers the whole area. Otherwise, mosquitos may sneak up from behind where the moving air is blocked and concentrate their bites in one area.


Use Lemon Eucalyptus Spray

Although evidence suggests that DEET far outperforms the many suggested herbal bug spray recipes suggested in many online spaces (citronella, mint, lavender, basil, thyme and other herbs), the one herbal oil that works is lemon eucalyptus. It works similarly to DEET in that the smell confuses mosquitoes making it difficult for them to land.

You can find plenty of bug sprays online that are based in lemon eucalyptus oil, but note that this type of spray should not be used on children under age 3. Just as with DEET and other mosquito repelling products, lemon eucalyptus can also be purchased as a clip-on repellent or in a bracelet or diffuser form.


Enjoy the outdoors this summer with minimal bug bites. Explore these natural bug deterrents and your family will thank you.


PHOTO: Kaigraphick / CC0 Public Domain


1 Comment
  • Pingback:Don't Be Afraid of the Woods. Help Kids Play Outdoors Safely.
    Posted at 13:49h, 01 June Reply

    […] Ticks love wooded and grassy areas and can transmit diseases, including Lyme disease. The CDC recommends that when in wooded or grassy areas, you stay in the middle of the trails, treat your clothes with permethrin and use a 20% DEET bug spray on any exposed skin. You should also check for ticks on your clothes and on your body once you come indoors and take a shower. Also, check out this post for natural bug deterrents. […]

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