9 tips to naturally bug–proof your summer

Repel insects before they bite without chemicals.
Copyright © 2014 Weider Publications, LLC, a subsidiary of American Media, Inc. All rights reserved. // Copyright © 2014 Weider Publications, LLC, a subsidiary of American Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

Are you a magnet for mosquitoes? If you're the only one being eaten at outdoor barbecues, follow these nine simple strategies for keeping skeeters away this summer.

1. Remove standing water

Keep bugs at bay by eliminating their breeding grounds–stagnant pools of water. Seal or drain any water features in the garden (such as a human–made pond), and the rain barrel.

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2. Wear loose clothes

Cover skin with loose-fitting clothing, as mosquitoes can bite right through tight fabric. Light-colored clothing allows you to notice and swat mosquitoes.

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3. Skip sweets

Don't tempt mosquitoes by consuming sugar or caffeine, says Laurie Steelsmith, N.D., a naturopath in Honolulu. "Both can rev up your metabolism," she says, increasing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. (Mosquitoes find their targets through sensing carbon dioxide output–every time you exhale–and lactic acid buildup.) A Japanese study suggests that drinking beer may also attract mosquitoes, so consider teetotaling (at least while outside).

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4. Apply repellent

Avoid perfumes and colognes, which make you smell delicious to mosquitoes. Instead, use insect repellents containing geraniol, soybean oil, or lemon eucalyptus, which masks your scent thus reducing the likelihood of bites.

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5. Use mint

Rub fresh mint or crushed beautyberry leaves (common in the southeastern U.S.) on your skin to repel biters, suggests Hong Jin, L.Ac., a professor at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine professor. But be sure you're not allergic to fresh plant oils; you don't want to replace one itch with another.

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6. Light a flame

Linalool or geraniol candles can ward off mosquitoes, as long as you stay within three feet of the candles. If you're headed for a campground or have a fire pit in your backyard, Jin suggests a traditional Chinese method: burning dried mugwort or lavender.

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7. Turn on a fan

"Mosquitoes can only fly about eight miles per hour," Steelsmith says, so a fan can help keep them away.

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8. Screen out bugs

Install screens on all windows, and sleep under a mosquito net if you're often bit during the night.

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9. Take care of bites

Steelsmith dabs essential lavender and peppermint oils onto her bites. "The lavender has anti–inflammatory effects, and the peppermint is a counter–irritant, so I don't feel the itch," she says. Another option: Apply three parts baking soda mixed with one part water to bites. Baking soda helps neutralize insect poisons and balance skin pH.

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This article about bug bites originally appeared on NaturalHealthMag.com.

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