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Keeping The Bugs At Bay

mosquito on skin

As I discovered on my honeymoon up to New Hampshire last week, the mosquitoes are out! And as I sit here scratching the spots where they got me, I’m already thinking of all the different ways to avoid more bites for the summer months.

If you too want to get more out of your backyard without scratching the summer away, here’s some of the ways you can keep the bugs at bay.


Geraniol candles


Much like the classic citronella candles, geraniol emits a smell that keeps the mosquitoes away. And it actually does a better job than their more popular counterpart. Geraniol is five times better than citronella and it repels more than 80% of mosquitoes and 70% of sand flies for up to 10 feet. A one-pound candle lasts 50 hours, but take a whiff before you buy. Though some find the scent pleasant, it may not be for everybody.


Citronella coils


These incense-like coils can help create a cloud of stinky smoke that mosquitoes will avoid, but they come with some major downsides. Unlike the pure plant extract candles, citronella coils also contain pesticide, so you are breathing in those same chemicals that are keeping the bugs away. You also have to stay right inside the coil's cloud in order to stay bite-free, so moving around isn't really possible.


Bug sprays and diffusers


Again if you are trying to avoid chemicals on your skin, these products may not be for you. But using products with less deet does in fact make them just as useful as products with more deet content. There are also plant based spray repellents on the market, but no matter what kind of spray you use experts say to make sure you wash the product off your skin before heading to bed. And if you're trying the personal clip-on devices to keep chemicals off you, sorry to tell you that the active ingredient, metofluthrin, can pose risks to your nervous system, and many tests found that they don't work very well anyway.

Rosamund Parkinson
Rosamund Parkinson

Backyard treatments


If you don't even want to think about protecting yourself from bugs every time you hang out in your own backyard, you can now get your whole yard treated to kill existing bugs and prevent new ones from hatching. Companies like Mosquito Squad come to you, spray the yard and can keep you bug free for one special night or the entire summer months. You may have to treat your yard a couple of times and it may not keep the neighbors mosquitoes from flying over to feast.

Adobe Illustrator(R) 8.0
Adobe Illustrator(R) 8.0

Proper lighting


It may sound strange, but the color of your outside lights may make a difference in how many bugs come calling. Outdoor LED or yellow lights around your house and porch won't attract pests like other lighting will, keeping you from getting as eaten as others.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Natural solutions


You can also skip all the sprays, candles and coils if you prefer and just keep it simple when avoiding mosquitoes. Make sure you wear long sleeves and pants and closed toe shoes if you're heading out for any hiking, stay inside a screened porch while relaxing in the backyard and use a fan to keep the air around you moving and landing that much harder for the bothersome bugs.


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