bug balm

Natural Mosquito Repellents

Oh it sure is that time of year! Where I live June is a month of rain for a few days and then several of sun. Pretty much in that rotation for a while. It’s great for the garden when I want seeds to germinate and get plenty of both sun and water for healthy grow. But it is also great for the insect community. I see lots of beneficial insects around the garden right now, but also plenty of mosquitos hatching.

Last weekend I gave a talk at our local Farmer’s Market on some helpful plants and products you can use to keep the mosquitos at bay. I promised to share those here as well. But before I get into that list I wanted to share the very best thing we have done to keep the population down. My husband built Swallow houses and put them on poles in our meadow. We have six houses and they have been so effective in decreasing the mosquitos, gnats and other bothersome little flying insects like no-see-ums (tiny mosquitos). The population is fairly under control for us. There are a couple times a day when the Swallows are not active but the bugs still are-mainly just before dusk. Once dusk hits the bats are out and they do their part as well. We haven’t built homes for them as they live around here in some natural environment that I haven’t researched. Here is a great link with information about building Swallow houses (you need to make sure the hole is the right size or they won’t use them) and Bat houses.

Now to the plants. We are campers and travelers. Can’t exactly take our Swallow houses on the road. So I’ve been playing with different plants and products for a number of years to find ones that work for us. Citranella is so our used it just isn’t a smell I love. But you can definitely use that very effective essential oil to keep the critters at bay. This summer I am making Lemongrass soy candles (available at the market, but not online yet) as Lemongrass works great as a deterrent. With any candle you can ring your patio to keep a perimeter so make sure you are inhaling a natural scent not a chemical fragrance. Lemongrass plants can be placed around your outdoor area, either planted in the ground or in pots so you can move them around. Lemon scented geraniums work with the Lemongrass and look lovely together in a potted plant grouping. Both are edible so bonus! My two standbys as ingredients in my spray and salve products are Marigolds and Catnip. They have strong scents that insects don't like. Again, you can plant them around the outdoor area you hang out in. But wearing them is even more effective. I prefer a salve mosquito repellent as it stays on longer. My Bug Balm works great for me and for customers in most areas of the world. I originally began making this in conjunction with a woman that wanted to keep the flies off her horses in Florida. We tested it through a few batches until we found the perfect recipe that works for the animals and for people with the mosquitos. I do have to say that it doesn't work at all for my husband. Some people have a skin chemistry that just plain stand out to insects. Very few customers have had this happen. This summer I also began making a spray that combines Catnip and Marigold infused in Witchazel extract along with some effective essential oils like Lavender (another plant, that when combined with others I’ve mentioned, is a good deterrent), lemongrass and Tagetes (Marigold). I’m receiving great feedback about this product. Right now it is available at our local market and not online.*

Garlic! Eating raw and cooked garlic on a regular basis will change your body’s scent enough that insects (even fleas) will stay away. If you hang out with other garlic lovers so much the better. I’m not quoting a scientific study. This is from years of working in Italian restaurants and seeing proof of those who ate it and those who didn’t. Also, once we weren’t eating garlic as often (or peeling it every day) the pests loved biting us again.

Deet is a chemical that works really well. It is also extremely toxic. If you can use natural alternatives and they work why not try that route first?

And of course I do make the perfect accompaniment to the repellents. My Skin Soother salve is great if those little buggers do get you. As well as being a gentle healer I use Plantain leaf in this one. Plantain draws out the itch and pain from bites or stings. This and the Bug Balm are always in my summer kit for hiking and camping.

What natural remedies do you use to fight the good fight against mosquitos?

*Products not available on my website you can pick up at the Hoodland Farmer’s Market on Sundays during the summer or you can email me to purchase direct. info@chickencoopbotanicals.com