Mosquitoes are drawn to the moisture in the garden.

Natural Mosquito Repellent: Garlic

by Megan Martin

As temperatures rise, so do mosquito populations. You may be considering garlic as a natural mosquito repellant. Although garlic oils and sprays have been found to ward off mosquitoes, the evidence is conflicting. The most effective method of mosquito control involves cultural control. Still, garlic may be worth a try.

1. Plants

There is disagreement among experts about garlic's ability to ward off mosquitoes on plants. According to Colorado State University Extension, garlic oil can kill mosquito larvae. Additionally, garlic sprays made of garlic extract contain sulfurs that are effective against mosquitoes and can keep them out of sprayed areas for several weeks. One problem with using garlic in this way is that it can also repel beneficial insects. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture states there is insufficient evidence showing garlic as an effective repellant. To use store-bought garlic spray, mix 4 to 6 ounces into 1 gallon of water and apply to plants and grass in the evening, using a canister sprayer. Check the product's instructions as they vary by brand. Reapply every three weeks.

2. People

Garlic is claimed to work as a natural mosquito repellant on people as well as plants. According to Colorado State University Extension, a mixture of 1 percent garlic oil, beeswax and petroleum jelly rubbed onto arms and legs was shown to prevent mosquito bites for eight hours. Eating garlic in food or taking garlic supplements can also confuse mosquitoes by masking the scent of carbon dioxide and lactic acid that they use to detect hosts. There are no clinical studies that show this definitively. Always check with your doctor before taking a supplement.

3. Other Natural Repellants

Some natural repellants may be more effective than garlic or can supplement garlic's effects. Light citronella candles near the area where you want to prevent mosquitoes. Line up several candles within a few feet of the area. Always monitor children around candles. Other natural repellants that can be sprayed on skin include 10 to 25 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint or lemon balm oil mixed with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel. Shake the mixture in a jar and apply to your skin.

4. Cultural Control

Supplementing garlic with other nonchemical cultural control methods can effectively reduce mosquito populations in your yard. The best thing you can do is to get rid of standing water that mosquitoes use as breeding sites. Common wet spots that attract mosquitoes include bird baths, clogged gutters, poorly maintained swimming pools and backyard ponds. Any part of your yard that fills with water and stays wet can be a problem. Eliminate breeding sites by throwing out any containers in your yard that can gather water. Consider trash cans, buckets, bottoms of flower pots, toys, bottles and cans. Clean your gutters, replace water in bird baths weekly and keep swimming pools clean. Fill in or drain any depressions in your lawn or other areas where standing water accumulates. Avoid over-watering your lawn.

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