Mosquitoes -- the dreaded summer pests that keep you indoors or scratching welts all over exposed skin -- not only cause irritating bites, but spread diseases. Yellow fever and west Nile spread from mosquito bites. Fortunately, studies have shown some products used in homemade mosquito repellent work as effectively as commercial, chemical products in keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Catnip Essential Oil
Iowa State University entomologists led a research study on the effectiveness of catnip oil in repelling mosquitoes in comparison to DEET, the most common chemical-based repellent. Researchers found the essential oil, called nepetalactone, was the most effective repellent in short term testing of 15 minutes. Overtime, its effectiveness lessons, but reapplication would improve this. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) oils have Environmental Protection Agency registration as a safe insect repellent ingredient.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Another effective essential oil in repelling mosquitoes comes from lemon eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus citriodora). This oil contains cintronellal, which gives it a strong scent and some of its repellent properties. According to Erika Yigzaw, the Chief Institutional Officer of the American College of Healthcare Sciences, lemon eucalyptus essential oil has been used by the Ethiopian government for use as an insect repellent in their efforts to control malaria.
How to Make Repellent from Catnip and Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
With a base of a carrier oil, witch hazel extract in an alcohol base to preserve the blend, and distilled water, make a spray-on homemade repellent that is easy to use. Jojoba oil makes a great choice for a carrier oil because it's among the oils that won't go rancid in summer heat. The oil also resembles skin sebum, won't clog pores and won't leave an oily residue.
Measure and pour the carrier oil into the bottle. Add the witch hazel extract.
Add one drop of catnip essential oil at a time, counting carefully to 24 drops. Add the eucalyptus the same way. Do not exceed a total of 48 drops.
Pour in distilled water almost to the top, leaving room to attach the lid with sprayer. Place sprayer on the bottle and shake vigorously.
Spray on exposed skin at least every two hours or as needed when outdoors, but no more than once every hour. Shake the bottle before each application to mix the oils in for better coverage.