You can hear them coming like Valkyrie riding on the wind, buzzing their mighty presence in your ear, and coming to take your life blood. Mosquitoes. Jokingly called the North Carolina state bird, these little punks are legit. If you grew up on the west coast and are used to the occasional annoyance of a mosquito bite from time to time, you’re in for a surprise when you get to the Southeast. It’s NOT the same….it’s way worse. But….there’s some good news! There are several ways to repel mosquitoes that can help you win this war.
Photo by Jared Belson
3 Ways to Beat Mosquito Bites
Attack the Habitat
- Remove habitat: If you can get rid of their habitat, you’re off to a great start. Eliminate standing water if you can. This is water that just sits and is not replenished by another source such as a spring or river. Ditches are a common place to watch out for.
- Treat the water or area: If you cannot remove the water, treat it. You have a couple of options here: water tablets and fogging/spraying. In eastern NC, the city or county sprays most of the neighborhoods at least once a year to help, but it can be beneficial and much more effective to do your own yard in addition to this. Call a company such as Mosquito Squad to have them come and spray the area. You can also buy tablets from the hardware store and drop them in any standing water. This should kill the mosquitoes but not the other creatures.
- Plants: There are some plants that deter mosquitoes such as the citronella plant, lemongrass, and others. If you wanted to protect your whole yard, you’d need an absurd amount of them, so don’t expect this to be a whole yard solution. However, if you have a small patio with enough room for 2 chairs, consider putting a citronella plant on a table between them. It can’t hurt, and might help a little.
Protect the Person
- Dusk and dawn: Mosquitoes are out in force during dusk and dawn. Try to avoid being outside during these times unless you have other abatement solutions in effect.
- Clothes: Long sleeves and pants will help greatly reduce the number of bites you receive. It’s also likely to be hot, so you may need to just accept that you’ll either be sweaty or itchy.
- Natural deterrents: There are several essential oils that help deter mosquitoes. These can be found in various forms such as soaps, topical oils, and bracelet coils. The Bugables Mosquito Repelant Bands bracelets last for up to 7 days and actually work pretty well. You can find them on Amazon or at Bed Bath and Beyond or other stores for $1-$2. The effectiveness of the soaps and oils varies depending on the potency, but they can be very effective. Read warning labels carefully as some essential oils should not be used on children under 2.
- Chemical deterrents: Sprays and personal or area fans can work very well. If you don’t like the feel or smell of sprays, try the Off Family Care Smooth & Dry. This one doesn’t smell horrible and isn’t oil on the skin.
Keep your chosen (non aerosol) deterrent in your car. If you get in an accident, run out of gas, or just forget to put it in your bag, you’ll be so glad you have a backup.
Treat the Bite
- The Bug Bite Thing: It’s going to happen so you might as well be prepared. This is one of the coolest contraptions! You put it over your bug bite and it sucks the poison out using suction. You control the amount of suction, but it can leave a small circle for a few hours. It’s reusable, has no needles, and is amazingly effective. Because it sucks the poison out, your body doesn’t need to react. Meaning no itchiness! Get it on Amazon for about $10 (or get two and put one in your car).
- Baking soda: This is a fairly effective natural remedy to use right after a bite happens. This isn’t a lasting remedy, but it can help in the moment. Just create a paste using baking soda and water and apply it to the bite.
- Itch sticks: These are effective and can be applied whenever the itch starts to come back. Use The Bug Bite Thing and you shouldn’t need to use the itch stick as often if at all, but have one on hand just in case.
Each person reacts a little differently to a bite. Some people get a little red spot, some people swell up like a balloon. There is also a condition called “skeeter syndrome” which is characterized by abnormally large swelling around bites (like the whole forearm instead of just the immediate area). This is a rare allergic reaction to mosquito saliva. Keep an eye on your kiddos and use normal allergy relief methods (for example Benadryl with your doctor’s guidance) to help them if this happens, and of course talk to your doctor.
Some people seem to be less tasty to mosquitoes than others. If that’s not you, these tips will help you stay sane and repel mosquitoes during the long summer. Use one to help, and use them all to really gain the upper hand. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
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