What's buggin' you? Mosquitos!

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When my family moved to Arizona from the Midwest, one of the big reliefs of summer was the absence of many of the bugs that are a regular part of any activity in Illinois – especially mosquitos. But, over the years, with the increase in humidity levels and the addition of water sources here in the desert, the presence of mosquitos has increased. 

Have you noticed?

Most everyone I talked to has indeed noticed that mosquitos are now a part of life in Arizona, especially during the monsoon months.

And, that dreaded mosquito bite accompanies the little pests with a vengeance and in recent years a very real health danger: West Nile Virus.

West Nile is a virus that is carried from birds infected with it already, via mosquitos to humans through the mosquito bite and it’s a very real threat.  And, emphasizes the importance of preventing mosquito bites.

So, I went on a search for the latest products out there that can help keep you and your family bite free this summer. But first I had to find out the answer to one question that many of us share:

Are some of us mosquito magnets while others are not?

My husband and I can literally be standing shoulder to shoulder in a room with mosquitos and he’ll always walk out without a bite, while I’ll be in itching misery.  What’s up with that? 
Well, it’s appears to be true that some of us are more “attractive” to mosquitos and scientists have been studying it for years.  It seems that some of us “put out” more of certain compounds than others and one of the culprits appears to be carbon dioxide – yes, those of us who are mosquito magnets tend to exude more carbon dioxide that others.  Mosquitos are attracted to that and give us a bite.  Hmmm.  Not much we can do to control that so let’s look at what’s out there to help us out.

The Best Prevention

This will be a short section but it’s really important. 

Standing Water.

Get rid of it around your home.  Birdbaths, buckets, empty spas, puddles and worse of all, stagnant swimming pools.  Standing water is the breeding ground of mosquitos.  They literally lay their eggs in water and produce thousands and thousands of the little biters.  Even one stagnant pool in a neighborhood can cause havoc for many neighbors.

The Products

Deet was introduced in the 50’s and it’s a very powerful and effective pesticide that was in most all of the mosquito lotions and products out there until recent years.  Concern about Deet remains high as to its safety even though the FDA has deemed it safe when used exactly as directed.   And that’s the biggie – you must follow the directions on the product exactly.

But recently, some products have surfaced that offer relief without some of the concern.  Here are some I found out there:

Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard

This is one of my favorite products on the market!  It’s safe, smells good and has been very, very effective for me.  Even a trip to the Bahamas left me bite free with this magic potion.  And the good news is that if you want it NOW! You don’t have to wait to order or get it online.  There’s an AVON Boutique in the Valley that has it on their shelves.  Check it out:

The Avon Boutique
610 E. Bell Road
Right next to Safeway at 7th Street and Bell

This is good for the whole family (even the little kids) and there’s a bunch of products in the line.

ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Lantern

This is a technology that helps you surround a larger area with bug repellent.  It’s based on a synthetic copy of an insecticide found in chrysanthemums.  It combines a butane heating element that heats a mat that contains the substance.  It’ll cover an area about 15’ x 15’.

What I like about this is that it is indeed silent and has no odor.  A big plus rather than other options that I find undesirable – citronella candles, and those annoying electronic devices that put out a shrill sound.  Although I haven’t been in a situation to put it to a test this year, I do like the positives.  The only downside is that it does require refills every 12 hours of use – so it’s an option for get-togethers, not a nightly thing.

Homemade Options

The best homemade options I found involve a common product OR essential oils.  But basically you’re looking for smells that mosquitos find disgusting.

One of those is … Listerine… the yellow, original formula.  You can spray it on yourself or your environment and it appears that mosquitos just don’t like fresh breath.  Hey, it’s worth a try!

Also essential oils such as lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, cedar wood, citronella are all also distasteful to mosquitos.

But, don’t put them directly on your skin – they can be irritating so simply mix a solution with a carrier oil and place in a spray bottle.

Here’s how:

Select one or more of the above essential oils.
Select a carrier oil – olive oil, castor oil, witch hazel or rubbing alcohol can all be used.
Drop in several drops of the oil, mix and spray on.

Keep the amount of oil to a minimum, a mixture of about one part essential oil to 10-20 parts carrier oil is recommended.  So it’s a weak substance so as not to irritate the skin.

This summer keep yourself and your family safe with a good bug repellent.  Mosquitos have been around for more than hundreds of years –they’re not going anywhere – except directly to me for a quick lunch – ahh the life of a mosquito magnet!
Live and Learn.