Buzz Off! How to Keep Mosquitoes Away from Your BBQ Naturally

Did you know there are around 150 species of mosquitoes in the United States? And many of them can spread dangerous diseases like yellow fever, Dengue fever, and the West Nile virus. Mosquitoes rely on their keen senses to locate their prey – they can detect carbon dioxide, heat, moisture, scent, and sight. In fact, mosquitoes have been found to be attracted to as many as 277 different human-related odors. With such a strong attraction to humans, it’s no wonder mosquitoes can wreak havoc at a barbeque or an outdoor event. So, let’s dive into some ways to repel these pesky insects and protect ourselves from their potentially harmful bites.

DEET: A Common but Controversial Repellent

DEET is a common ingredient in many insect repellents, and it’s estimated that one-third of the US population uses products containing DEET. You can find DEET in over 230 products, with concentrations reaching as high as 100%.

However, prolonged and heavy exposure to DEET has been linked to some concerning health problems such as memory loss, headaches, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may not appear until months or even years after exposure, making them difficult to pin on DEET usage.

Additionally, the most severe damage happens when DEET is used together with other insecticides (such as permethrin) frequently and for extended periods. While there is limited information on the short-term and occasional use of DEET, it’s clear that regular and long-term use (especially in combination with other chemicals) could lead to brain deficits in vulnerable populations, particularly children.

In a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center, rats exposed to even small doses of DEET for 60 days encountered difficulty completing the simplest tasks. DEET’s non-water-soluble properties mean that it remains on surfaces even when rinsed off the skin.

Natural Repellents: A Safer Alternative?

To protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites without resorting to potentially harmful chemicals, you may want to consider using natural insect repellents. Some have been shown to provide strong protection against mosquitoes for extended periods.

One such natural repellent is lemon eucalyptus oil, which provides over 95% protection from mosquitoes for up to three hours. Other natural repellents include cinnamon, citronella, and thyme. These ingredients not only repel mosquitoes but also irritate and are toxic to the insects themselves.

Cumin, lemongrass, and coleus have also been proven to be effective repellents and mosquito irritants. Incorporating these natural repellents into your mosquito-fighting arsenal can help to keep you and your loved ones safe from these disease-carrying pests, without exposing you to potential side effects from chemical-laden products.

Creating a Mosquito-Free Environment

In addition to using natural repellents on your skin and clothes, there are also several ways to reduce the mosquito population in your immediate environment.

  1. Get rid of standing water. Ensure there are no containers, gutters, or low-lying areas where water can collect and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  2. Maintain your yard. Trim any overgrown grass or shrubs to reduce hiding spots for mosquitoes and other pests.

  3. Use fans. Mosquitoes struggle in strong wind currents, so having a fan near your outdoor gathering can help keep mosquitoes at bay.

  4. Opt for light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors, so dressing in lighter shades can provide some protection.

  5. Light citronella candles. The scent of citronella can help to repel mosquitoes, making these candles an effective tool for outdoor gatherings.

By using natural repellents and creating a mosquito-free environment, you can enjoy your time outdoors without the fear of mosquito bites and the diseases they may carry. And by avoiding chemical insecticides like DEET, you’re also protecting your health and the health of your loved ones.