Once spring and summer roll around, it's time to start entertaining outdoors. Your yard turns into a venue for hosting barbecues, garden parties and other gatherings, but one uninvited guest almost always shows up -- the mosquito. Spraying the whole area with harsh chemical pesticides and insect repellents isn't always an option, especially if kids and pets are around. Instead, try a natural alternative like homemade garlic spray.
Break apart three bulbs of garlic and place them in a blender. Fill the blender with water so it is one-half to two-thirds full. Puree the mixture for about 1 minute, then strain out the chunks of garlic. Discard the garlic solids and pour the strained garlic water into a 1-gallon jug and add water until the jug is full. This is your concentrated solution. Keep it stored in a cool, dry place or in your refrigerator.
Many gardeners add hot peppers for additional strength. If you choose to add peppers, omit one bulb of garlic and replace with two hot peppers like jalapeños or habaneros. To help the solution stick to plants and other surfaces, add 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil or horticultural oil. If you are using this spray to prepare for a barbecue or other gathering, do not use the peppers -- the capsaicin may stick to surfaces that guests handle and may end up in their eyes.
The concentrated solution is strong enough to harm plants, particularly if you added the peppers, so use about 1/4 cup of it per gallon of water. Fill a garden sprayer with the diluted solution and spray the areas where you want to repel mosquitoes. Pay particular attention to any areas where there is standing water, where mosquitoes tend to go to breed and otherwise congregate.
Garlic spray works to keep mosquitoes away for about two hours, so bear this in mind when you are getting ready to spray down the area. If you are using the spray to prepare for a party, consider augmenting it with longer-lasting repellents like citronella candles or decorative torches filled with citronella-scented fuel. Use caution when using this spray if you have cats, as garlic is known to be toxic to them.
Jarrett Melendez is a journalist, playwright and novelist who has been writing for more than seven years. His first published work was a play titled, "Oh, Grow Up!" which he wrote and performed with a group of his classmates in 2002.