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Don't be the Main "Mosquito" Attraction

Easy natural and chemical free ways to keep mosquitos away.

One of the best ways to keep mosquitos from getting the bite on you is to avoid being the main attraction at your local mosquito theme park in the first place. Understanding a bit about mosquito behavior can help avoid calling unecessary attention to yourself.

Mosquitos identify their targets by sight, heat and smell. Avoid physically active movement (exercise, ball games, yard work, etc.) during peak mosquito hours to keep them from noticing you from a distance.

Peak mosquito times tend to be right around dusk and dawn. Reduce outside lights in the evening hours (use yellow bulbs, if possible).

Wear light colors during the daytime -- dark clothing during daylight hours actually attracts the little buggers. According to one report, mosquitos prefer blue and green so you're better off wearing yellows, reds and oranges.

Mosquitos are attracted to perspiration, heat, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid. All of these are produced after exercising, so avoid outdoor exercise during peak mosquito hours (at dawn and dusk). Our bodies also release lactic acid after eating bananas (or other potassium-rich foods) and salty foods.

Avoid perfumes when outside. Using hand creams and lotions with a sweet scent can also increase your risk of attracting mosquitos, so go for the unscented varieties during mosquito season. Try using unscented soaps when showering, too. Even though they're rinsed off, the scent remains on your skin and attracts bugs.

Keeping a barrier between yourself and mosquitos is a simple and natural way to avoid bites. Wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors at dusk, or in areas with an especially high concentration of mosquitos (woods, swamps, hiking trails). And use screens in all your home's doors and windows during summer months.

Several gardeners assured me that planting marigolds, scented geraniums (rub the leaves on your skin too), rosemary, catnip, peppermint, spearmint, daisies, verbena, spike lavender (not the sweet French variety), basil, thyme, garlic, allspice, cedar, and lemon grass around the yard naturally repels insects. Eucalyptus is also rumored to be helpful.

Make your own insect-repelling sachets; dry the flowers and leaves from the above plants and place them into small, hand-sewn cotton bags.

Eliminate Their Breeding Grounds

The first step in avoiding the bite is to eliminate the local mosquito population at its source. Mosquitos use stagnant water for their breeding grounds, so drain any collections of stagnant water found in your yard, neighborhood or workplace.

Also keep your eye out for these sources of standing water: Discarded tires, roof gutters clogged with leaves or other debris, rain barrels, wading pools, drainage ditches, paint buckets, tin cans, paper cups or other discarded trash, trash containers, infrequently used yard equipment, plant containers, bird baths, broken toys, pet water bowls, and holes in tree stumps.

If your kids want to play in their wading pool, be sure to dump the water out at least once a week and turn the pool upside down when not in use so rain doesn't collect in it. And if you want to keep your birdbath and pet's uioutdoor watering bowl, be sure to clean out the water at least two times each week. If you have an outdoor fish pond with goldfish or amphibians, the mosquito larva will be eaten by the fish so you won't need to drain the fish pond.

For tips on natural and homemade mosquito repellents, send a blank email to:

--Deborah Taylor-Hough (wife and mother of three) is the author of the new book, Frugal Living For Dummies(r), and Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month. Be sure to visit Debi online and subscribe to one of her free ezines at:

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