Do-it-yourself repellents may seem attractive because they allow you total freedom in what you choose. You get to adjust your budget, control the methods based on your needs and wants, and work out which ones suit you best.
However, that still takes a serious amount of time, money, and attention. You’ll want to know the basics of just about every DIY option before making a serious investment. We’ll discuss 5 types of DIY repellent options:
Tree and Plant Repellents (including citronella candles)
Options with Essential Oils
No matter which solution you choose, you should always understand the pros and cons of what you’re getting into.
Tree and Plant Repellents
Plants have survived bugs for millions of years, and it’s thanks to evolutionary developments. In fact, the oils and chemicals in mosquito-repellent plants are often inspiration for store-bought products.
Eucalyptus trees, while they grow large over time, can still grow in portable containers. They have a sweet pine or mint smell, which helps repel mosquitoes. Their leaves produce an oil called eucalyptol. Placing a few fresh leaves on your windowsill can help keep bugs away.
Lavender is a hardy plant that can outlast winters and provide a pretty purple sight in spring.
The strong smell of lavender may make it difficult for mosquitoes to track you down by your lactic acid. Its linalool oil is also an alcohol that inhibits mosquito receptors the same way over-the-counter bug spray does.
Planting a few lavender plants in your yard may distract the bugs and make it harder for them to focus on you.
This is the one you may know! Probably from the term citronella candles.
These small shrubs make great container plants at about 1-2 feet tall and wide.
It’s called the mosquito plant because its natural citrus fragrance helps repel mosquitoes. The candles that include their oil are frequently used to promote a natural scent barrier inside and outside a home.
Each of these plants also offers a way for your garden to act as a natural barrier against mosquitoes:
Cons of Tree and Plant Repellents
However, they are plants that need taking care of. This often requires a lot of time, energy, and research. Otherwise, any plant you bring in might make a rapid departure to that holy compost pile in the sky.
Repellents and Essential Oils
Each plant we mentioned, and many others, have an essential oil that manufacturers have distilled. Eucalyptol, linalool, and citronella are just three of hundreds of options.
You can use each essential oil in a mix of water for easy spraying. Simply dabbing drops on your wrists or around your home may also work as well. Not only can these oil mixes help repel mosquitoes, many of them are also naturally pleasant scents to enjoy around the house anyway.
We all probably know at least one person who swears by apple cider vinegar for… everything. Anecdotal cures for pests have been around for centuries—in part because many work, and in another part because that’s what we’re told.
Plants and essential oils make another appearance here in these homemade options. Many homemade remedies today involve mixing essential oils into water or another medium:
Apple cider vinegar + essential oil drops
1/3 cup witch hazel + essential oil drops
Coconut oil + water
Freshly squeezed lemon juice + water
Isopropyl alcohol + water + essential oil drops
Each of these solutions works on the same principles we’ve covered: masking our signals like lactic acid buildup from sweat or our CO2 emissions from breathing.
Mosquitoes avoid the smells of these plants, so the logic is that they’ll avoid us if we make our home smell like these plants.
These make for attractive solutions. The investment is simply a matter of purchasing the ingredients, mixing them, and regularly spraying as needed.
Cons of Homemade Remedies
These solutions may fail to work in the long-term. If they do, it will be difficult to diagnose why. It might be your solution mix. It might be the oils used. It might be the mosquitoes around you. With homemade remedies, it is hard to be certain of anything.
All the DIY solutions reviewed so far focus on hiding certain signals to cause mosquitoes to avoid us while we’re working in the yard or outside at a summer barbecue.
With traps, we want to leverage our new knowledge to attract the bugs and kill them in swarms. They enter the trap and either can’t escape or fall into the mixture and drown.
However, it’s important to consider that while this lure may attract mosquitoes to your property, there are no guarantees they’ll actually fall into the trap. You could end up with more mosquitoes than you started.
They might very easily decide that you or your pet smell like a tastier treat once they get to your yard.
Carbon Dioxide Lures
Sugar, yeast, and hot water combine to create your own source of carbon dioxide. Place these ingredients in a 2-liter bottle, and you can put it anywhere.
This attracts the mosquitoes as they search for a person or pet to bite. The next step is to construct the bottle in such a way that it keeps mosquitoes in when they enter.
By cutting the bottle in half and inverting the top to act as a funnel, you create that environment.
Cons of Standing Water Traps
Traps are not an ideal solution as there may also be standing water in other areas of your property. While some females may lay their eggs in your trap, others may just as easily lay eggs in any other tiny puddle around your yard or home.
A Breeding Ground They Can’t Refuse
Standing water will always attract mosquitoes—and this ingenious trap revolves around that.
Take a cup and glue a dark sock to the bottom before pulling it over the rim. With a bit of construction, you put a metal mesh in the cup and fill the cup with water.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs near the water on the sock, which fall past the mesh. By the time the larvae grow up, they’re too big for the mesh and never get out to bug you!
Yes, you read that right. This may sound like a Star Trek device, but we now have mosquito repellent apps for your phone.
One button pressed on your phone and these apps claim to emit low frequency or ultrasonic sounds that bug the bugs.
While we cannot hear them, mosquitoes apparently hate the noise and avoid it.
This idea is older than you think! Mosquito control has had battery-operated emitters for decades. Radio stations have even attempted to broadcast the noise.
Cons of Mosquito Apps
However, in any controlled test or study, these noise nuisances don’t work.
These DIY solutions require some learning and implementation to put into practice. They may cost you lots of money all for little to no results.
If you have the time, money, and energy to do all that, it may be for you.
However, if you’re looking to save time, there may be store-bought solutions and professional remedies we’ll cover in future blogs that make the job easier and get better results.