There seems to be a huge frenzy about mosquitos lately, especially with the Zika Virus getting so much coverage in the news. The virus, that is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, has ran rampant in many South American countries. Recently, there have been more frequent cases here in the U.S. Symptoms are mild, ambiguous (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes) and often disappear within a week, so many people don’t even realize that they have been infected. Pregnant women are especially in danger of the effects of the virus as it can be transmitted to the fetus. Researchers suspect that Zika may be the culprit in a recent rise in birth defects. Naturally, everyone is having a major freak out! Meanwhile, at Half Hippy Headquarters, we are as cool as a cucumber. Why are we so cool? Because we have a recipe for a quick and easy DIY natural mosquito repellent that is as effective as commercial repellents.
But what’s wrong with my trusty old Off Deep Woods 8 hour Super Duper Cray Spray? Commercial mosquito repellents rely on a sneaky little ingredient called DEET to keep the bugs away. DEET, or diethyltoluamide, was originally used as a pesticide and then later by the military during WWII. Also, DEET is known to dissolve synthetic materials such as plastic and nail polish. Who the F*$# thought it was a good idea to spray that on our skin? The CDC even recommends heading to a poison control center if you have a bad reaction to your DEET based repellent. Um, no thanks! The Environmental Working Group lists lemon eucalyptus oil just as effective as DEET repellent. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a plant-based repellent oil made from leaves of Eucalyptus citriodora. There are oil of lemon eucalyptus repellents available for purchase at your local health store or trusty amazon.com if you prefer to buy something premade. If you wanna whip up your own, there are many other essential oils along with oil of lemon eucalyptus that those pesky little mosquitoes hate! Read on to find out how to make your very own cheap, quick, and easy DIY repellent.
What you’ll need:
essential oils: peppermint, cedarwood, black pepper, white thyme, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon eucalyptus (citriodora), citronella (lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon verbena), lavender, clove
Choose a blend of oils that you enjoy! While all of these work great, we recommend to always include citronella and the citriodora eucalyptus because those are the most effective and researched repellents. Fill the spray bottle with ¾ of alcohol or witch hazel, add your choice of essential oil drops, and add distilled water to fill. For a 16oz bottle, add about 10-20 drops of your base oil. This will be the strongest scent. Follow with your choice of about 5 drops of any other oils if you want a little variety. If you have a smaller/larger bottle, use your common sense to adjust the amounts accordingly. With cinnamon and peppermint, use caution and start with a very little amount because they can be irritating to sensitive skin. Because this is a natural repellent, it doesn’t last for as many hours as commercial repellents. Just be sure to reapply every few hours to be safe. Shake before use and get in the great outdoors!
Extra Tips to Stay Bite-Free
Now that you have your own awesome natural repellent, be smart about avoiding those little guys in the first place. The best way to not get bit is to keep away from places and situations that you know are mosquito infested. Before travelling, check to see what the mosquito situation is with the CDC or other travel information sites. If possible, avoid those locations. If you must go, try to avoid being out in early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are most active. Keep all areas clear of any standing water to discourage mosquitoes from hanging out and breeding. You can also spray the immediate area around you with your homemade repellent for extra protection (porch, picnic, camping, outdoor dining table, etc). Want to whip up your own bye bye bugaboos candle? Check out this awesome DIY recipe from our friends at the DIY Idea Center. If you are in one location for the long term, surround your area with potted or planted herbs such as citronella (lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon verbena), geranium, eucalyptus, rosemary, anise, mint, marigolds, catnip, wormwood, lavender, cedar, tansy, or cloves. It also helps to wear light colored and longer clothing. Longer clothes will help keep more of your skin covered and mosquitoes tend to target darker clothes.
So there you have it! Who knew it was so easy to be chemical and mosquito free at the same time?? High fives to fearlessly hanging outdoors!
The Half Hippies