Having your summer cocktail hour crashed by mosquitos is a seasonal annoyance we're all familiar with. But during a summer of staying at home, being plagued when trying to enjoy your one outdoor entertainment option is particularly vexing.
For those who are averse to oily sprays, environmentally questionable chemicals, and smelly bug lotions, the battle against bug bites can feel all-encompassing and futile. Luckily, the pursuit for a bug-free happy hour is one we take very seriously. We've uncovered some of the most effective and aesthetically pleasing (or, barring that, subtle) options for keeping bugs at bay — so you can enjoy your mojitos, sans-mosquitos.
This unique bug-deterring item is actually citronella-infused incense crafted in a continuous shape, so you can have ongoing protection from bites if you plan to be outside to a longer period of time. This popular option has been tricky to find in stock this summer, but Rejuvenation has preorders available to ship out next week — as well as smaller styles that can be paired with a hanging stand, available in September. To use, just hang from a hook, wire, tree branch, or string of patio lights, and ignite or extinguish out as needed. (Bring it indoors between uses so it doesn't get rained on or damaged.) And don't be surprised if your design-savvy friends inquire about your new "outdoor sculpture."
Want to try out the mosquito-repelling coil trend before committing to the big one? These traditional Japanese mosquito coils from Rinnesha are long-burning, offering up to 6 hours of bug relief per coil, and come in a pack of 30 complete with a small metal stand.
A budget-friendly alternative, these DEET-free mosquito repelling incense sticks are far chunkier than the incense you might've burned in college. They provide up to three hours of bug-free outdoor enjoyment, and can be nestled into the garden or potted plants, or paired with the specially sized Murphy's Naturals ceramic incense holder (which has a nice, artisan vibe thanks to its unique glaze pattern).
Another bug-baffling option that doubles as decor, SKEEM's citronella blossom candles feature a built-in hanging handle to hook on your deck or loop over a tree branch to allow for some bug-free ambiance. The brand's signature citronella blossom scent is blended with jasmine, hibiscus, and peach for a summer-y, enticing scent your outdoor guests will enjoy. Each one has a 150-hour burn time, so even propping a few around your property works out to a pretty appealing cost-per-use ratio.
The brand also offers a light, creamy body balm with a refreshing citronella-verbena scent, for those who prefer to apply their bug-deterrents when they apply their sunscreens. The non-sticky, non-greasy finish feels good on the skin and makes re-application a breeze.
Discovering these mosquito-repelling wraps from Shoo For Good was nothing short of a gamer-changer. These breezy cotton wraps and scarves are enhanced with invisible, EPA-registered Insect Shield® technology that repels bugs without smells, sprays, or citronella. The effect comes from something called Permethrin, an active ingredient that's even safe for children and anyone pregnant or nursing and lasts about 70 washes. The resulting wraps are fashionable (word on the street is that Catherine Zeta-Jones is a fan), fair-trade woven in Ethiopia, and and even give back to malaria-fighting nonprofit Nothing But Nets. Consider us sold.
If sprays suit you just fine, you can do no better than this all-natural, refreshing repellent from Mrs. White's. Billed as an eau de cologne, its bright botanical smell makes it a pleasure to use, and its non-oily, non-staining formula means it's safe to spray on sheets, towels, patio cushions ... and clothing, of course. This long-lasting spray can protect from bugs of all types for up to four hours, depending on humidity — plenty of time to get your summer cocktail hour on.
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.