8 Safe Ways to Repel Mosquitoes and Other Bugs

It's officially summer and mosquitoes are out in full force in backyards, campgrounds, ballparks and the backcountry alike. But before you reach for that chemical bug repellent, you might want to consider a safer option. Check out our 8 safe ways to repel mosquitoes and insect below.

The most widely used bug repellents contain DEET, a powerful chemical bug repellent. Scientists have found that prolonged use of DEET may cause brain cell death and impair the central nervous system, affecting everything from memory to behavior.

So how are we supposed to safely repel biting bugs? Thankfully, there are several safe ways to repel mosquitoes and keep other bugs at bay.

Camoing without mosquitoes

Here's a list of our favorite ones:

1. Buzz Off Insect Shield® Clothing - We like Buzz Off Insect Shield® clothing and gear made with permethrin, the synthetic version of a natural bug repellent made by the chrysanthemum plant. Buzz Off Insect Shield is registered with the EPA, recommended by the American Association of Family Physicians and is considered safe for both you and the environment. It's highly effective at repelling all kinds of biting bugs like ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, flies and no-seeums. It's odorless and invisible, too.

2. Citronella Candles and Sprays - Citronella oil is a great all-natural way to repel mosquitoes and bugs. Light a candle on your patio for protection or use one of the many citronella sprays available for your skin. The only downside is that citronella has a distinct odor. But to me, it just smells like summer. (Buzz Away Extreme is my personal favorite natural bug-repellent spray. It works for 4 - 8 hours and is made of citronella oil plus soybean, coconut and geranium oils.)

3. Essential Oils - Aloe vera, lavender, peppermint, and clove are known to repel mosquitoes. Of course, this won't be enough protection if you're camping in the backcountry, but it's great for everyday use.

4. Herbs - Planting bug-repelling herbs like garlic, rosemary, tansy, catmint, basil, pennyroyal and marigolds around your backporch or patio will create a natural bug border.

5. Vitamin B - I can't say for sure whether this works or not, but there's been quite a buzz around Vitamin B-1 as a natural way to repel mosquitoes. Supposedly taking Vitamin B-1 supplements makes your skin and blood smell and taste terrible to mosquitoes.

6. Garlic - Eating a lot of garlic, taking garlic capsules or rubbing garlic on your skin works in the same way as Vitamin B-1. Of course, you might also repel friends and family.

6. Don't Wear Fragrance - Mosquitoes are attracted to sweet floral smells so foregoing the perfume or smelly lotion is wise if you don't wish to attract their attention.

7. Avon's Skin So Soft - I have friends who swear by the effectiveness of Skin So Soft so I did a little research. It does, in fact, work pretty well, though only for about an hour.

8. Get Rid of Standing Water - Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water so getting rid of any water around your house (gutters, flower pots, etc.) will give them one less place to multiply.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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