There are countless ways to enjoy a summer evening. Maybe you like spending them watching a beautiful sunset or gathering around a crackling fire with family, but if there’s one way to put a damper on whatever your evening plans are, it’s the biting and itching of pesky mosquitoes and their bites.
Have you ever wondered what is it about you that mosquitoes find so attractive? The answer is this – your CO2 emissions and body odor. Irresistible, right? Mosquitoes are attracted by the carbon monoxide you breathe out when you exhale (there isn’t much you can do about that). However, they are also attracted to the scent of your sweat or body odour as we also emit carbon dioxide through our pores. By using sprays, you’re masking your smells with unattractive odours to repel the bugs. But if you hate the long-lasting smell and sticky residue left from your bug spray, consider the following alternatives for keeping these biters at bay.
The simplest way to keep mosquitoes from biting is to wear long clothing to keep as much of your body covered as you can. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats and high collars. This is an important way to protect yourself from many types of bugs, including ticks, and it is essential when hiking or spending time in dense forests where bugs will be rampant. However, it’s not always practical for a hot summer night in the backyard. There are other ways you can change your clothes to help keep the mosquitoes away.
Now available is mosquito-repellent clothing. Mosquito-repellent clothes look just like everyday street wear but have been treated with bug repellent that is bonded tightly to the fabric. The repellent is both odourless and invisible but keeps many types of bugs away, such as mosquitoes, ticks, flies and ants. If you’re not ready to change out your summer wardrobe to fight off the bugs, you might opt for treating the clothes you already have with a fabric-safe insect repellent. These treatments are made from natural insecticides that are nontoxic and can effectively deter the mosquitoes. The effects won’t last quite as long as mosquito-repellent clothing, but the treatment will last several washes and it dries clear and odourless. Beyond your clothing, you can use these sprays to treat your outdoor fabrics, tents or sleeping bags.
As we learned above, mosquitoes are attracted and similarly repelled by scents. So having plants around that smell unattractive to them helps to keep them at bay, similar to burning a citronella candle. You can place these plants around where you often spend your evenings, maybe on your front porch or near your back patio. There are a variety of plants that mosquitoes avoid including catnip, holy basil, lemon thyme, feverfew, rosemary and citrosa. Some, like the citrosa pictured here, add a beautiful flower to your patio as well.
The smell of some essential oils are also known to keep mosquitoes away. Oils can be worn on jewellery or made into a spray or lotion. Try lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, or lavender oil to make your own all-natural bug repellent at home.
Now, rather than having the bug spray directly on your body, mosquito repellent comes in convenient clips you can hook onto your belt loop, backpack, stroller, tent or anywhere you want. A mosquito clip uses a cartridge of repellent and batteries to emit the scent in a small radius to keep the bugs away. The cartridges come in a variety of brands and types, from all-natural to DEET.
Another tool in the fight against mosquitoes that has seen great improvements over the years is mosquito traps. Some traps use UV light to attract all sorts of bugs and then kill them on contact when they reach the trap. Others use propane to emit carbon dioxide to draw the mosquitoes in. Some even attract the mosquitoes from over 1.5 acres to keep your yard - and maybe the neighbour’s - free from these pests.
Beyond these tips, there are a few things you can do to make your home less prone to harbouring mosquitoes. Be sure to remove all standing water, and we mean ALL standing water. Mosquitoes breed in water and they don’t need much space to lay their eggs. Even a bottle cap filled with water is a large enough space for mosquitoes to breed. Make sure outdoor water toys are empty when not in use. Make sure rain barrels are sealed tight or treated with safe insecticides. Clear debris from gutters that may be creating blockages. It takes four days for mosquitoes to hatch, so be sure to check your yard regularly for standing water. Additionally, you can cut down on mosquitoes in your yard by keeping your grass and bushes trimmed. Mosquitoes prefer the shade so the more places they have to hide, the more likely they are to make your yard home.