Mosquitoes are such a pain. These pesky little wigged critters are the bane of every outdoor enthusiast’s existence, and if you ask us, they’re entirely too persistent for our own good! Thankfully, there are a handful of different options for keeping the hungry bloodsuckers away — like using essential oils.
You might be wondering, why not just use DEET? And we’ll tell you. Read on as we explore essential oils and why they are much better to use than conventional bug spray.
But First, Why Is It So Important To Repel Mosquitoes?
With summer quickly approaching and all the insects coming out in full force, avoiding mosquitoes becomes a high priority. Although these disease-ridden insects have plagued tropical regions throughout history, they are increasingly showing up in the U.S. — no longer just an annoyance, mosquitoes can transmit some potentially fatal diseases with a single nibble.
Diseases carried by mosquitoes kill more people than any other living species on the planet. Yep, mosquitoes are much more dangerous than sharks and snakes. These insects kill roughly one million people worldwide in any given year as a result of the diseases they carry.
What Diseases Do Mosquitoes Carry?
For the most part, mosquito bites are nothing more than a super itchy nuisance that’ll go away after 24-48 hours. However, some types of mosquitoes spread viruses that can cause disease.
While there are many illnesses that can come from a mosquito, the most common mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. include:
- Dengue fever
- West Nile virus
- Zika virus
- Yellow fever
Note: Just because you are bit by a mosquito, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been infected with a disease. Symptoms typically don’t show up for mosquito-borne diseases until at least a few days after you’ve been bit.
With that being said, if you plan on traveling to a mosquito hotspot where these illnesses are much more prevalent, there are preventative steps you can take to help reduce your risk of getting bit. Do your research and protect yourself — most mosquito-borne diseases do not have a cure.
Hold Up — How Do Mosquitoes Get Infected in the First Place?
Believe it or not, for the wigged critters to get infected with a germ and then spread that germ to others is actually a pretty complex process:
- A mosquito takes a small bite from a person or animal.
- If the blood contains a germ (like a virus or parasite), then that germ must pass from the insects’ gut into its body. Mosquitoes don’t transmit all kinds of germs — only those that can multiply or grow in the body of the bug.
- Once the germ is in the mosquito’s body, it multiplies. Then, the germ moves from the body into the insect’s salivary glands where — you guessed it — saliva is made. This process can take anywhere from two to three weeks.
- From here on out, the next time the infected mosquito bites a person or animal, the germ passes from its salivary glands and goes directly into the blood of the unfortunate individual being bitten.
- The person or animal can then get sick.
The ability of a mosquito to get infected with and later spread a potentially dangerous germ depends on a few things:
- The type of germ
- The quantity of the germ in the mosquito
- Environmental conditions (like temperature)
- The mosquito’s age
Mosquitos often feed in a method called sip feeding. This means that the bloodsucking insect doesn’t just suck all of the blood it needs from one source but instead takes multiple meals from multiple sources. Unfortunately, this exposes more people and animals to infection.
What Happens When a Mosquito Bites?
Did you know that only female mosquitoes bite and suck blood? Yep, it’s true. Female mosquitoes are constantly on the hunt for blood because it provides nutrients for their eggs.
When a female mosquito lands, it punctures the skin with two little tubes — one draws blood, and the other injects an enzyme to help prevent blood clotting. Many people have a minor allergy to this enzyme, so they are often left with a small itchy bump (aka bug bites).
Mosquitoes vs. Essential Oils: The Ultimate Showdown
Now that you’re totally up to speed on the dangers of mosquitoes, let’s talk about essential oils and the dangers of DEET, shall we?
It’s really common for the average Joe to run to the drugstore and quickly grab a can of insect repellent containing DEET to help protect them from mosquito bites. And while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved DEET for use in people of all ages, new studies have revealed that the popular ingredient has adverse health impacts on the human body.
Some research found that DEET can even promote the growth of tumors, while other outcomes include rashes, irritation to the skin, nausea, and headaches. More alarming, there have been a few reports of seizures associated with DEET.
When it comes to combating mosquitoes, it’s best to avoid DEET and stick with natural mosquito repellent options, like essential oils.
Why Use Essential Oils?
Your skin is extremely important. It is your largest organ and protects everything inside your body. Without skin, our muscles, bones, and organs would have a super hard time staying inside our bodies where we need them.
Skin holds everything together, and keeping it healthy is of the utmost importance. That being said, your skin is highly absorbent, with studies showing that it can absorb over 60% of what you rub into it. So using products with synthetic chemicals may not be the best move if you want to protect yourself from any potential hazard.
Enter: essential oils.
What makes essential oils a top choice when it comes to keeping pesky mosquitos at bay is the fact that they have little to no side effects. And unlike most conventional insect repellents, which contain many icky chemicals, essential oils are plant-based and chemical-free.
What Are the Best Essential Oils To Prevent Mosquito Bites?
So, what are the best essential oils to prevent mosquito bites, you ask?
Here are some of them:
Arguably the best essential oil to use against feasting mosquitoes, citronella oil is extracted from several Cymbopogon species and is commonly used as an ingredient in all-natural insect repellents. Particularly effective on the species of mosquito that carries Yellow Fever, citronella oil is also great at deterring fleas, ticks, and lice.
Here at The Natural Patch Co., our effective yet safe mosquito patches are infused with citronella essential oils and can provide protection against these little bloodsucking vampires for eight hours. And unlike topical sprays, which contain DEET, our BuzzPatch isn’t only easy to apply — but environment-friendly!
Want to smell minty fresh while keeping mosquitoes at bay? Try peppermint oil. Peppermint has a natural insect repellent property as well as antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. What’s more, the cooling sensation of peppermint oil can also provide relief and ease the itching of bug bites.
While catnip is widely used for commercial purposes and happens to be something that is very addicting for cats, this beloved herb has proven to offer much more than just a fresh minty smell. In fact, according to one study, researchers examined the efficacy of catnip oil compared to DEET: their results showed catnip as the superior repellent.
Tea Tree Oil
Ah, tea tree oil. This stuff is one of the greatest antiseptics on the planet and possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. But that’s not all...tea tree oil can also protect and soothe painful mosquito bites. Pretty cool stuff.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Another popular ingredient used in natural insect blends, researchers found lemon eucalyptus to be very effective against mosquitoes in a 2013 study. Plus, the fresh, lemony aroma smells absolutely amazing and, if you ask us, is perfect for a summer ambiance!
Best known for its positive effects in terms of sleep and total relaxation, many people don’t know that lavender is a versatile essential oil that can also effectively repel mosquitoes and heal itchy bites. Extracted from the Lavandula angustifolia, the coveted oil is great for those with sensitive skin issues and is safe enough for your little monsters. That’s why we infuse it into our BuzzPatch Mosquito Repellent Patches!
An Essential Solution
So, can essential oils be used for mosquito repellent, you ask?
Essential oils are plant-based, non-toxic, and can kick butt against pesky mosquitoes. But before you go crazy making all the lotions and potions using these powerful oils, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not all created equal.
There are good essential oils that are kind to your body, pure, effective, and safe. However, there are also brands out there that are not pure, cheap, mixed with synthetics, GMO’s, and other gross artificial substances that can cause uncomfortable reactions, especially to those with sensitive skin.
If you’re on the hunt for high-quality essential oils to make your own mosquito repellent, be sure to purchase from an honest and reputable company. Or, avoid the hassle (and mess) and purchase our BuzzPatch Mosquito Patches.
Made with all-natural ingredients like citronella oil and lavender oil, our patches are non-toxic, DEET-free, and smell absolutely amazing. Plus, our fun, colorful designs are sure to put a smile on your little one’s face — what’s not to love?
Check us out today and protect your kids from itchy mosquito bites tomorrow!
Mosquitoes in the United States | CDC.
Kids Health.Org: Mosquito-Borne Diseases (for Parents) | Nemours Kidshealth.
Is it true that the DEET used in most mosquito repellents is toxic? | Scientific American
The insect repellent N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) induces angiogenesis via allosteric modulation of the M3 muscarinic receptor in endothelial cells | National Library of Medicine
Comparison of Contact and Spatial Repellency of Catnip Oil and N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (Deet) Against Mosquitoes | Oxford Academic