Game of Thrones memes, anyone? Yeah? No? OK, I’ll behave now, stop making memes, and start talking about mosquitos, insect repellent, and how you can make your own bug spray.
Because memes aside, mosquito season is coming for a lot of us—and if you’re in southern portions of the United States, then it has probably already arrived for you. Where I live? Mosquitos were never much of a problem, but the past several years, we’ve experienced some pretty nasty flooding each spring, often over the summer, too.
Turns out, this flooding leads to some extremely nasty mosquito swarms. As in, when I leave the house without bug spray, I bolt the 20 feet from the door to my car, straight through clouds of bugs, and end up getting bitten several times along the way. And then, of course, part of the swarm follows me into the car before I can slam the door shut.
Why do these swarms get so bad around here? Well, there are actually a couple of key types of mosquitos. Actually, there are many, many different species of mosquitos, all varying from one region to the next. But in this area, you can broadly categorize mosquitos into two types: house mosquitos and floodwater mosquitos.
House mosquitos are the usual sort we imagine, the kind that lay their eggs in standing, stagnant water. Eliminating stagnating pools or using mosquito dunks works quite well to keep these guys in check.
Floodwater mosquitos, however… These mosquitos lay their eggs in flood zone soil. When water rises, the eggs hatch, grow up into adult bloodsuckers, and then as floodwaters recede, this fresh new population lays approximately a bajillion new eggs in recently exposed soil. Rinse and repeat for a few flood seasons, and the floodwater mosquito population grows into something rather apocalyptic.
Yeah. Bug spray has become a necessity ranking right up there with things like oxygen, sustenance, shelter and love.
So what kind of bug spray do I typically use? For the most part, I rely on DEET-based insect repellents, the higher the percentage, the better. There are a couple of issues with this, though. DEET is safe and effective, but many people would rather use all-natural products. The second issue is my own personal problem. DEET bug sprays smell bad enough that if I’m using them for hours on end, reapplying as it becomes ineffective…bleh. Gives me a headache and kind of turns my stomach.
And that’s why I’m sharing this piece that I wrote for Farmers’ Almanac. It details how you can make your own DEET-free insect repellents using essential oils proven to work as well or almost as well as DEET. If you’re not a fan of commercial repellents, then give this recipe a shot!