As I sit outside on a bench, enjoying the brilliant spring sunshine and writing these words, a mosquito attacks my exposed skin, making me slap at myself while grumbling my annoyance. I need instant relief so I scratch away with great irritation to find myself with a brand new wound. I am inevitably and reluctantly adding this one to the collection.
For those who think Whistler isn’t an area much affected by mosquitoes, perhaps it’s because you are one of those lucky 80% of the population who mosquitoes don’t find highly irresistible. Or you’re from back East. Or you hang out with me. As a result, I can hike for 8 hours with a friend only to come down the mountain with my body covered in itchy welts and yet hers is as pristine as a baby’s skin. Needless to say, I fashion legs covered in bites throughout the summer months. And yes, mosquitoes are here in our alpine mountains, amongst a variety of other biting insects. Trust me.
In the valley, just below the snow line, warm weather is melting snow and creating pools. All that moisture combined with the heat provides a healthy environment for these pests to breed. If you’re an alpine hiker, you’ve surely experienced their buzzing orchestra.
It is still unclear exactly why these pesky biters prefer certain people. Researchers think that the apparel, blood type, large emissions of carbon dioxide through the nose and mouth, heat and sweat, lively skin, pregnancy and beer (don’t worry, wine too) could likely come into play.
In an age where we turn more towards green living, I am happy to say that there are some garden plants that can help keep mosquitoes away.
A member of the mint family, lemon balm has white flowers and a gentle lemony scent. Not only does it offer healing properties, it’s also known for warding off mosquitoes while attracting important pollinators like butterflies and bees. Simply crush a handful of the leaves in your hand and rub onto exposed skin.
The lemon scented citrosa geranium, which is sometimes called the mosquito geranium, is the most effective. By removing the leaves from the plant, you activate the oils. Then rub vigorously on exposed skin to keep these annoying pests away.
Mint offers excellent repellent action when applied to exposed skin. The natural plant oils repel the adult mosquitoes and kill their larvae and eggs. Crush a few mint leaves to release the scent and oils and rub over exposed skin.
Not only is rosemary amazing in cooking dishes, but it is also an outstanding mosquito repellent. Burn some and the aromatic smoke will deter them.
Lavender plants are beautiful in a garden. What is wonderful is that mosquitoes are repelled by their aromatic scent. Keep pots of lavender on your patio, in your backyard or grow in the garden to keep mosquitos away. You can also rub lavender onto your skin to release its oils.
Basil releases an extremely pungent aroma without the leaves having to be touched. It releases its scent naturally from the leaves so you can grow it in pots or in the garden to control mosquitoes. You can also rub a handful of the leaves directly onto exposed areas.
Lemongrass carries the fragrance of citronella in its foliage. Simply crush or press the grass blades and rub them directly on clothes or skin. The aroma is very pleasant and repels mosquitoes. It is also very inexpensive to grow.
Marigold contains pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. It is an easy-to-grow annual flower that emits strong aromas that deter mosquitoes. Grow them in pots and place them near your patio or entrance to your home to keep bugs out.
DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent
Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. DEET has also been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources, both in its production and during use. It is toxic to birds and aquatic life.
For more natural ways to push those little pests away, check out this video on how to make mosquito repellents at home: