Mosquito Facts – All About Natural Remedies

The recent rains in San Antonio, combined with the heat that August will bring, are pretty much guarantees that mosquitoes will be out in force this year, and protection is key. If you’ve noticed more of the tiny pests lately, that’s because they are out looking for blood so the females can lay their eggs in standing water.  

Tarrant County health facilities in North Texas have reported 16 cases of the West Nile virus so far this year. The virus can be carried by the mosquito. The best way to prevent West Nile is to remove the breeding ground of mosquitoes. Inspect your property and yards and remove any standing water from gutters, overturned garbage can lids, toys, buckets or gardening equipment. Experts are preaching, “Get rid of that water!”

Have you wondered why you get bit up more than the person sitting next to you? It’s possible that you have a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is a type of B vitamin that helps break down sugars in the body. Mal-absorption and an improper diet are two reasons for a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine has no toxic effects other than a chance of causing an upset stomach if ingested in high doses.

Taking thiamine prior to mosquito exposure can protect you because it produces a skin odor that is not detectable by humans, but acts as a repellent to pregnant mosquitoes. Applying an herbal DEET-free insect repellant is also recommended this summer for San Antonio residents.

What is DEET and why should you look for a DEET-free repellant? Many commercial insect repellents contain from 5% to 25% DEET. There are concerns about the potential toxic effects of DEET, especially when used by children. Children who absorb high amounts of DEET through insect repellents have developed seizures, slurred speech, hypotension and bradycardia.

Do you frequently entertain outdoors at your home? If the answer is yes, here are five of the most effective mosquito-repelling plants to include in your landscape. All are easy to grow.

  • Citronella is used in most insect repellants. Garden centers sell citronella as small potted plants, ready to transplant to a larger pot or into raised garden beds on the ground.
  • Horsemint also known as Beebalm. It is an adaptable perennial plant that repels mosquitoes much the same as citronella. It gives off a strong incense-like odor, confusing mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts.
  • Marigolds are commonly grown as ornamental border plants. They are hardy annuals that have a distinctive smell. Mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find it particularly offensive. Marigolds contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents.
  • Ageratum is a plant that emits a offensive smell to mosquitoes. Ageratum secretes coumarin that is widely used in commercial mosquito repellents.
  • Catnip is a natural mosquito repellent. In August 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and keep those mosquitoes away! 

By Kay Spears, San Antonio Nutritionist

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