Updated: Aug 29
The moist summer of 2017 gave us an overdose of mosquitos. The wet conditions created the perfect breeding grounds for the pesky critters. Since mosquitoes are know to carry such diseases as: Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria, finding an effective repellant is a top priority for some scientists.
I have always preferred natural remedies. I would crush Pycanthemum muticum, Short-toothed mountain mint leaves and rub them on my kids. We found it did a great job to keep the biters at bay. This natural remedy gave me piece of mind and did the job. However, there is no research to back up my claim of efficacy.
Currently DEET and picardin are the two repellants which scientists have found most effective. There are quite a few repellants out there, some work better than others, but there is no natural remedy that can measure up to DEET or picardin.
The University of Mississippi has spent the past 12 years trying to find a natural alternative to DEET or picardin, the two best synthetic repellants currently on the market. They are specifically targeting a product that will be safer for children.
Two plants have come out on top for repelling mosquitos from the Ole Miss researchers. Callicarpa americana, American Beautyberry and Hierocholoe odoranta, Sweetgrass. Both used by Native Americans for keeping the pests away. While the scientists have proven that these plants can do just as good of a job as the current synthetic top dogs, it will be a while before we see them on the market. It turns out it is expensive to extract the essential chemicals from the plants and much more testing needs to occur before the FDA would approve them.
As for this parent, Mountain mint will continue to be my go-to bug barrier, but I also plan to add Beautyberry and Sweetgrass to my repertoire. They are all native plants which are growing in my yard, so they make for a readily available and effective remedy for the pests.