How to repel mosquitoes naturally and treat bites

Mosquitoes bite, suck your blood, and leave you with itchy bumps. Here’s a simple guide on how to get rid of mosquito naturally and treat those bites. 

Mosquitoes are a common occurrence down under. Picture: Getty

This article was updated on 15 September 2020. 

There’s an old adage that goes “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”. These irritating insects can be found literally anywhere in Malaysia and they survive by sucking blood from both humans and animals. Though they look harmless, some species like the invasive Aedes mosquito, or some call it the yellow fever mosquito, carry infectious diseases like malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus and west Nile virus. 

But don’t worry, there are easy ways to keep yourself protected against mosquito and prevent mosquito from consuming your blood.

Different species of mosquitoes in Malaysia

There are a total of three main species of mosquitoes found in Malaysia. Take a look below to learn more about these blood-sucking creatures.

1. Aedes mosquitoes (Aedes Aegypti)

One of the more common mosquitoes found here, the adult has black and white markings on its body and lays black-coloured eggs that are shaped like a rugby ball. It takes about six to eight days for an egg to metaphase into an adult. These mozzies prefer to breed in a manmade container with clean water, and they like darker shades of colours like black and red.

2. Anopheles mosquitoes (Anopheles SPP.)

This notorious species is responsible for carrying infectious diseases like malaria. The adult has pale and dark marks on its wings and they rest 45-degree angle to the surface. Its eggs are tiny and only measure up to 1mm long. The lifecycle for this species is about six to ten days. Like Aedes, they like clean and unpolluted water and darker colours. The anopheles prefers to hunt at night and the female can lay 50 to 150 eggs after one blood meal.

3. Culex mosquitoes (Culex spp.)

The adult Culex mosquitoes have brown scales in their thorax, legs and wings. Compared to the other species, they’re duller in colour and the tip of their abdomen is always blunt. The eggs are brown in colour and they’re long and cylindrical in shape. It takes about six to ten days for eggs to grow into a full-fledged adult. Unlike its cousins, Culex breed in polluted stagnant water and they can fly long distance. They, too, prefer to feed at night and are attracted to darker shades.

How to repel mosquitoes naturally

1. Keep your outdoor area dry

Mosquitoes actually begin their lives underwater and their natural habitats are wetlands. Female mosquitoes will lay their eggs in just about any pool of water they come across. And so another natural defence against mosquitoes can be found in keeping rain gutters clear and unused bird baths empty.

Favouring drought-resistant native plants will give mosquitoes less reason to come-a-buzzing, too, as you won’t need to water your garden quite as often.

2. Use warm lighting

Mosquitoes tend to be drawn to conventional light sources in ultraviolet or blue wavelengths. So, by using bug lights coated in an opaque yellow finish instead of regular lights, you can deter mosquitoes and other bugs from joining that al fresco family dinner.

The only problem is everything in your garden will be bathed in a somewhat harsh yellow glow – including your guests. But hey, better that than getting bitten, right?

3. Install a ceiling fan

The wetlands where mosquitoes thrive are balmy, sticky places, and so your house needs to be the complete opposite: dry and cool.

Which is why ceiling fans are a multi-value proposition for taming mozzies. Not only do they waft insects away from your lovely deck, they also keep your skin cooler and less attractive to mosquitoes as a result.

4. Light citronella candles

Citronella is a naturally occurring oil that repels mosquitoes. It works by masking scents that mosquitoes are attracted to. However, according to multiple reports, the citronella candle is only effective to a certain degree because most candles only contain a little concentration of citronella oil.

5. Use lemon eucalyptus essential oil

Another natural way of repelling mosquitoes: lemon eucalyptus. This essential oil is extracted from lemon eucalyptus trees and is effective against mosquitoes. Not to mention, it smells amazing so it can double as a home diffuser. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) also claims that oil of lemon eucalyptus is more effective mosquito repellent when compared to the others.

6. Grow mosquito-repellent plants

Commercial repellents like deets and picaridin definitely work, but they can leave you smelling like a campsite, and many contain nasty chemicals.

Fortunately, certain plants are natural mosquito deterrents. Plant these around mozzie-prone areas, and you’ll eliminate the need to douse yourself in chemical-ridden sprays every time you want to entertain outdoors.

Get your gardening gloves on and plant any or all of the following:

1. Citronella

It’s a common ingredient in mosquito repellents, so why not just get the real thing? The beautiful, perennial clumping grass emits an aroma that’s stronger than mosquito repellents containing citronella, so it’s a smart and economic choice.

2. Rosemary

Perhaps better known as a great herb to flavour a lamb roast, rosemary is a flowering plant with vertical leaves that also deters mosquitos. It’s very easy to grow, and while it deters mosquitoes, it’s also attractive to butterflies – win-win!

Rosemary is a flowering plant with vertical leaves that also deters mosquitoes. Picture: Getty

3. Mint

The fresh-smelling herb is a natural insect repellent, so rubbing the leaves together to release the oils and patting over your skin is an easy way to fend of mosquitoes. Mint does grow quickly and can be an invasive plant though, so plant the herb in a large canister with the bottom cut out to keep it from taking over your garden.

4. Garlic

No, overdoing it on the chicken Kiev won’t deter mosquitoes, but it may have that effect on your significant other. Growing garlic bulbs in your garden, however, will deter mosquitoes, as well as other sap-sucking pests like aphids. So, plant some near your best roses and fruit trees, so that they have a friendly bodyguard to protect them.

5. Lavender

The gorgeous purple plant is known for its sweet scent, but mosquitoes don’t like it as much as we do. Also easy to grow, lavender has a cottage charm that ties in well with most native gardens.

Why mosquitoes bite some people more than others

There are a lot of different factors that attract mozzies to you. Heat and carbon dioxide are two of the most common aspects, which is why people who have just exercised are prone to get bitten. There are also studies showing that certain blood type like O attracts mosquitoes as compared to people who has blood type A and B.

If you want to avoid getting bitten, don’t wear dark coloured clothes because they’re attracted to those shades. Another easy way to stop mozzies from feeding off you, don’t go out in the evening and night as they tend to go out and hunt during those hours.

How to treat mosquito bites naturally

Incessantly buzzing around our face, tickling our arms and legs when they land, mosquitoes aren’t a whole lot of fun. But we could probably just about tolerate them if they didn’t leave such nasty reminders of their existence.

Fortunately, there are a number of natural ways to make their infuriatingly itchy bites a little less terrible. Here are some of them.

1. Stop itching

Without wanting to sound like a nagging parent, refraining from itching really is your first line of defence – even if itching them does provide some temporary relief.

This is because itching your bites causes your body to release histamine, which is the same organic compound that caused your bites to become itchy in the first place.

2. Apply ice

This home remedy is as natural as they come.

Applying an ice pack or wet cloth to the bite reduces itchiness as it causes the dilated blood vessels near the surface of your skin to narrow, which serves to reduce swelling.

3. Use an oatmeal paste – or take an oat bath

Oats contain an active ingredient called avenanthramides that reduce inflammation and soothe itching. You can exploit these benefits either by applying an oatmeal paste to your skin or by throwing in a cup of ground oats to your next bath.

To make the oatmeal paste, mix equal amounts of oats and water in a bowl until the mixture takes on plaster-like texture. Then, spoon the paste onto a washcloth and then apply this, paste-side down, onto the affected area for 10 minutes.

4. Apply a drop of honey

What would a home remedy list be without honey?

Nature’s gold contains many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and one or two drops of the stuff should be enough to soothe an itchy bite.

5. Use a basil rub

Containing a chemical compound called eugenol, basil is another kitchen mainstay thought to relieve itchy skin.

Steep roughly 30g of dried basil leaves in half a litre of boiling water, let the mixture cool, and then dip a washcloth in the mixture and gently rub it on your bites.

Basil contains a chemical compound that can relieve itchy skin. Picture: Getty

6. Dab on some vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another stalwart of the homoeopathic community, having first been touted as a natural remedy by the Ancient Greeks.

A drop or two of vinegar on a bite should be enough to provide some relief – although it’s best to steer clear of the stuff if you’ve already itched your bites, as applying vinegar to open wounds is never a great idea.

7. Try something less natural

If none of the above work, calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream and oral antihistamines are your best non-natural bets, with the latter especially good if you’re having trouble sleeping, as many variants cause drowsiness.

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