Defeat the bloodsuckers: Tips to prevent mosquito bites

July 2016 Posted in Your Health
Make your own ‘bug-off’ spray
Randi Embree’s favorite mix of oils is:
clove, lavender, orange and eucalyptus.

“It works great and smells good too,” she said.

Witch Hazel (like Dickinsons)
Distilled or boiled water
Vegetable glycerin (optional,
but it helps the spray adhere to skin)


Fill 8 oz. spray bottle 1/2 full
with distilled or boiled water
Add witch hazel, fill almost to the top
Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin
Add 30-50 drops of essential oils
to desired scent, go easy with clove
as it can burn sensitive skin.
The more oils used, the stronger
the spray will be.

Visit Randi’s FB page: to learn more.

By Melissa Wagoner

Summer in Oregon is a time for enjoying the great outdoors.

Unfortunately, a walk in the park, a hike in the woods, a camping trip or even sitting on your front porch can be downright painful when those outdoor spaces are filled with hungry mosquitoes.

Before you reach for the chemical sprays, try a few easy methods to keep them at bay.

Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquito larvae. Make sure to empty buckets, pots and other containers where water may collect.

Remember that mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and evening hours. If you can, avoid being outside during those times.

If alfresco dining and enjoying a beautiful sunrise are on your agenda, keep covered up with long sleeves and pants.

Turn on a fan on the patio or light a citronella candle to convince mosquitoes you mean business. Moving air helps to deter flying insects and citronella has been known to repel them.

If all else fails, there are some plant-based products that help protect exposed areas of skin. An Internet search reveals hundreds of easy recipes for homemade sprays and lotions. Items like catnip oil, oil of citronella and oil of lemon eucalyptus can be found at local health food stores.

If you would rather buy a ready-made product, Silverton resident and owner of Abiqua Naturals Nicole Dennis makes an all-natural insect repellent sold at Shayla Lynn on Water Street.

“It has distilled water, witch hazel and a variety of essential oils. It works quite well,” Dennis said.

She advises avoiding scented lotions, hair products and perfumes, as these can attract unwanted insect attention.

Silverton resident Kera Howell said she has used Listerine mouthwash to keep mosquitoes away.

“It needs to be applied behind your ears, on your wrists and behind your knees,” she said. “It seemed to have worked.”

At the Elder Spirit Herbals Herbal Basics course, Randi Embree teaches students how to use commonly available herbs and weeds for household and cosmetic purposes and simple ailments.

To keep mosquitoes away from your picnic or barbecue, Embree said a smudge of garden or white sage is an effective way “Simply dry the herbs and place in a fireproof ceramic or other container and light for a slow burn,” Embree said. “Any of the ‘spaghetti herbs’ used in this way is likely to be effective.”

Embree also provides a recipe for a homemade bug-off spray. (See sidebar.)

If you do get bit, Embree recommends to her herbal students to chew up a leaf of plantain (plantago lancelota or  plantago major) and apply it to bites or stings. A drop of lavender essential oil will help as well.

To treat bites, Dawn Tacker recommends applying apple cider vinegar to the bite, while Gail Little-Frassenei recommends pressing the back of a very warm spoon to the area. When Ruth Rooster visited her grown children in Texas, she said they all use After Bite, which turns out to be ammonia, which stops the itching. Christine Guenther suggests mixing baking soda with water to make a paste to put on the bite.

Here’s to keeping the pesky pests away.

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