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Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

Mosquitoes! The bane of hot, moist, swampy places … I’m thinking .. my backyard!

It’s true. Mosquitoes are the unofficial state bird here in Florida, and if you want to enjoy the wealth of outdoor activities available, you’ll need to take steps to protect yourself.

Besides the fact that mosquitoes are known to carry West Nile Virus, they are voracious biters that leave an itchy welt in their wake that is certain to put a kink in your outdoor plans.

There are plenty of chemical, DEET-based preparations available that will keep biting insects at bay; however, if chemical treatment does not agree with you, here are some healthier alternatives.

Garlic really works. Taken internally, the odor is emitted through the pores of the skin and it actually changes the taste of our blood, neither of which is appreciated by the hungry mosquitoes. Of course, friends and foes may not relish the way you smell, but you will remain mosquito-free for as long as you continue to maintain the garlic aura.

For those who may be garli-phobic, there are other, more pleasant smelling alternatives. A mixture of essential lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint oils in equal parts mixed in an olive oil base and applied to the skin will also act as a natural insect repellent. In fact, just any of the above oils by themselves are useful against mosquitoes.

Oil of citronella has long been used to repel mosquitoes and it works well when drops are added to a carrier oil, such as olive oil. Citronella oil by itself is very strong and could cause irritation, so it is recommended to add it to a non-sweet carrier base.

Lemon grass, citrus oil, grapefruit, tangerine and orange oils all are effective to some degree. A mixture of equal parts in a carrier base makes a fine preparation.

Nothing works as well as DEET, but these herbal alternatives work well if applied lavishly and often.