It was when I was about to apply a strong insect repellent to my 1-year old granddaughter that I stopped and thought about it a bit. These mosquitoes are bad, but the bug repellent seems worse.
What’s a Grandfather to do? Simple. Go to the herb garden and know which herbs can make a difference and how to use them.
At least that’s the conventional wisdom. Unfortunately, most of my herbs are for cooking. Imagine my surprise when I found out they’re also some of the best, natural mosquito repellents. This really got my attention.
Here’s what I figured out:
There are six herbs that we use for cooking on a regular basis that also repel mosquitoes. They include:
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Thyme
It almost sounds like a song from Simon and Garfunkel, but not quite.
Planting these herbs in and around your outdoor patio areas serves as a natural repellent, but you can take them on the road as well. You can also create a repellent to go.
There are three ways to “infuse” these herbs and apply them to your skin.
One way is to chop them and soak them in rubbing alcohol for about 30 minutes on a counter top. You strain the infusion and rub it on your skin. It sounds good, but I’m not happy about applying this to my toddler grand-daughter.
A second way is to blend the herb or herbs with a neutral oil like vegetable oil or canola oil and apply it to the skin. That’s a little better, but very oily and it leaves bits of green stuff all over you.
My favorite way is to put the herbs into a food processor with sun-tan lotion. I whip into a green froth and when you spread it on your skin it doesn’t make you look like a green monster, or someone who’s been dragged through a field of grass.
You might have to vary the amounts a bit. I usually grab the leaves of quite a few of the six top herbs: Mint, Basil, Lemon Balm, Sage, Rosemary and Lemon Thyme.
If you’re missing a few of these no worries, any one of them has the natural repellent properties you’re looking for.
My favorite technique is to simply pick bunches of this stuff and surround yourself with it somehow. Put some sprigs in a stroller. I usually rub them a bit to release their oils.
Tuck a few leafs in your socks. Wear a few sprigs like a corsage or just chew them as you wander. You can also put them in your pocket and if the bugs attack pull them out and wipe on your skin until you find high-ground with a bit of wind or sun. As a back up plan, I usually bring along the sun-tan lotion-blend just in case.
Even better is to plant these herbs around an area where you congregate outdoors. You can harvest for meals or salads, and they’ll repel mosquitoes while you sit outside and enjoy whatever.
I love this whole multi-tasking approach. Herbs that are good to eat and for cooking that also keep the mosquitoes away. Happy summer.