Q: I have got to have some relief from mosquitoes! My children and I can not garden or play outdoors without being eaten alive! I don’t want to use (commercial mosquito repellent) on my kids. Isn’t there something more organic that works?

A: Mankind (and womankind and kidkind) has searched for an effective mosquito repellent since the beginning of time. Smearing mud on exposed skin is somewhat effective (and fun for the kids) but not very practical. Bear grease, used in the same manner, is reputed to work but is not really acceptable at pool parties.

Botanical extracts of lemon grass, citronella and other scented plants give only a fraction of the control that DEET (the active ingredient in most repellents) gives.

The citrosa “Mosquito Repellent Plant” does not work nor do electronic mosquito repellers. The electric bug zappers you hang in the back yard attract and kill thousands more beneficial bugs than mosquitoes.

If you prefer not to use the commercial bug repellents, your best bet is to use one of the “DEET free” lotions that contain plant oils. The liquid will have to be reapplied every few hours to maintain effectiveness. New repellents containing picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective.

You might consider applying a DEET-containing repellent to shirt collars and socks but not to the skin of your loved ones.

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