Warding off summertime mosquitoes and flies to maintain outdoor fun is especially important given the new disease potential of the mosquito-borne Zika and West Nile viruses. Here are some naturally protective measures.
- Remove stale, standing water outside the home—including swimming pool covers, clogged rain gutters and buckets—and turn over clay pots and plastic containers, as they all can be prime mosquito-breeding spots, suggests the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
- Alternatively, a toxin-free backyard pond or water garden can be stocked with mosquito fish, like gambusia, that feed on and consume large quantities of insect larvae.
- Avoid applying potent perfumes, soaps and lotions prior to an outdoor event, because such scents attract insects. It always helps to wear light, long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect more skin.
- Grow plants with odors mosquitoes don’t like. EarthEasy.com suggests citronella, horsemint (aka bee balm), marigolds, ageratum (floss flowers) and catnip. WellnessMama.com also likes lavender, thyme, lemongrass, anything in the mint family and even basil; rub fresh or dried leaves on the skin, or apply lavender flowers or oil especially on hot spots (neck, underarms, behind ears etcetera).
- Use a non-toxic, plastic-free insect-repelling band for kids.
- Avoid conventional insect repellents, as many contain diethyltoluamide (DEET), one of the top five contaminants of U.S. waterways. Chemicals rinse off into shower and bath drains during later wash-ups.