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Bug Off!! A guide to fighting mosquitoes naturally

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Just think about everything you put on your skin daily: deodorant, soap, cream, sunscreen, bug spray and hand sanitizer are but a few. The average woman will absorb nearly 2.3 Kg (5 lbs.) of cosmetics and other beauty products each year by using nearly 20 different products. The risks associated can be minor skin irritations to a more serious illness like cancer. It is said all these products are safe but it is argued that is only individually are these chemicals safe, when they are combined, their properties change and they could become harmful. The best plan of action is to become an informed consumer.

The most common active ingredient in insect repellent is DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) and is very effective to prevent mosquito and tick bites. DEET comes in various concentrations from 100% to 10% and the concentration tend to govern how long the chemical will work (100% = 12 hours) and must be washed off your skin after use. In studies DEET has shown to be effective and safe when used as directed but there are several cases of people experiencing harmful and deadly outcomes from DEET use. DEET has been proven to cause skin irritations and in severe cases seizures, brain damage and even death. Clearly, one has to weigh the risks of toxicity and the risk of diseases like the West Nile Virus or Lyme disease, right? Well maybe not.

Mosquito bites are a nuisance but also potentially deadly as all around the world they spread illnesses such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, and Encephalitis. In Canada, West Nile Fever whose symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash. Severe symptoms can include neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, vision loss and paralysis. These systems can last weeks or a life time. Those who are bitten by an infected mosquito, only 20% will show the symptoms after 14 days. Infants, the elderly and individuals with auto-immune illnesses are especially at risk. Here are some steps to help reduce your risk of mosquito and other bug bites.


  • Remove all standing water from your yard. It is likely that your back yard is breeding these pests, things like flower pots, old tires, pet water dishes, bird baths, patio chairs and any other place where water can pool is a possible nest for mosquito larvae. 
  • Bt israelensis (Bt-i)  (Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis) is a biological pesticide designed to only kill mosquito, black fly and fungus gnat larvae. Can be used nearly anywhere there is standing water. This can be safely placed in birdbaths, rain barrels, rain gutters and anywhere you have accumulated water.
  • Wear loose light coloured clothing.
  • Invite bats to live in your yard as they will eat thousands of mosquitoes every night buy a bat house or create another opportunity to turn off the TV and build a bat house with your family.
  • Keep pots of basil and rosemary growing near your doors to discourage mosquitoes from hanging around.
  • Stay indoors during prime feeding times.
  • Investigate the natural wonders of Neem Oil, a wonderplant that has healing properties and also acts as a natural insecticide read more at Woodland Natural Remedies.

Make your own natural mosquito repellents

Making your own repellent is easy and requires just a few ingredients: Some essential oils and a carrier oil or alcohol.

  • Essential Oils: 10-25 drops total.
Any of these essential oils are effective mosquito repellents. You can choose one or create a mixture of three: Basil, eucalyptus, cloves, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm (citronella), feverfew, cinnamon, lavender, castor, pine, fir, spruce, cedar and cypress.
  • Carrier oil or alcohol: 29.5 ml (2 TBSP)

Choose one of these are effective carriers: Olive oil, sunflower oil, cooking oil, witch hazel, water, vodka

Apply the solution avoiding your eyes and other sensitive areas, reapply after an hour, swimming or exercise. When not in use, store away from direct light in a dark coloured bottle.

Natural Insect Repellent by Buy Canadian First Member Glengarry Gardens, a natural blend of essential oils in soybean oil, great for the whole family.


Druide's Citronella line are all natural products free of colourants, nuts or nut oils and petroleum by-products. The entire line is available through our member Well's website


All Things Jill's Bug Joose is another effective natural repellent that contains no chemicals, making it safe for the environment. Get some though our member Organically Hatched.


How do you combat the onslaught of these pesky critters? Share your tips and tricks with us and have a itch-free remainder of summer. 

Comments / Commentaires

  • By MelissaT August 04, 2009

    Wow! I had no idea that we absorbed so many products through our skin. I mean I knew it was absorbed, but now all I can think of are the chemicals going through my system before they get flushed out... Great tips on making our own insect repellent. I think I might just try that! Great post!

  • By IsabelleR August 07, 2009

    I am shocked by those statistics! Image our kids and all that sunblock we have been lathering them up with all those years! This is a great eye-opener and will definitely change the way I shop. Thanks Andrea!

  • By andreawillowcat August 10, 2009

    All that product being absorbed into our bodies is a little yucky. I try very hard to minimise my children's exposure to all these products. I often don't put on sunscreen and dress them in hats and long loose cotton clothes, we save the sunscreen for beach or sun-dress days. I moisturise them with BCF member Carmel Soaps' sweet baby oil.

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