All the rain we've seen in the last month has been great for our gardens. unfortunately it has also been great for mosquitos.
Not so great for the humans that want to get out and enjoy the warm sunny days.
There are so many options and ideas out there to help keep the bugs off you and your loved ones it can be confusing. I am going to do my best to help clear up a few details so you can feel more confident as you head out to choose a repellant.
By now DEET based repellents have a pretty bad reputation just about everywhere you turn. While DEET based repellents are approved for use in Canada in dilutions of 10-30%, Health Canada still sees fit to type in bold a warning about it. "Prolonged use should be avoided in children under the age of 12." The Environmental Working GRoup gives DEET a rating of 5 or moderate risk. That's enough for me to steer clear of it.
The list of essential oils that are reported to keep the bugs at bay is seemingly endless. Lavender, peppermint, catnip, eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, pepper...I could go on.
Catnip is probably one of the most common oils suggested. Studies have shown that catnip essential oil is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. This means one could use much less catnip and have the same effectiveness as using a DEET based repellant. The active constituent in catnip essential oil is called nepetalactone. While this does an excellent job at keeping the bugs away it must be used with extreme caution by all. It should only be used in concentrations of 2% or less in any given formula. Pregnant women and children should not use catnip essential oil in any concentration at all.
I much prefer to use citronella essential oil to keep the buzzing to a minimum. It works by making it harder for the mosquitoes to find you. The American Environmental Protection Agency has found it to have little or no toxicity.
Citronella blends nicely with lemongrass, lavender and rosemary. Have fun playing around with these oils find a combination you enjoy.
Of course I have my own blend, Walk on the Wild Side. This week at the farmers market I had only been out of the van for about 5 minutes before I was reaching for my spray. I am happy to report the mosquitoes left me alone for the rest of the night!