With spring being in full bloom, the weather being warmer and life feeling just that little bit better, you and the family might be cruising into the summer months but watch out: as you open your apartment windows, there are evil, alien intruders lurking.
These ruffians want you and your children’s blood and must be kept at bay. We’re talking of course about mosquitoes and the unwanted plagues of them that Beijing summers typically bring. If you’d rather skip the desperate 2am swatting sessions and household-object-smashing that such activity results in, read on for some of the best natural ways to eradicate these pests.
Burn citronella oil or candles
Citronella is a natural substance made from lemon grass extract and acts as a great mosquito deterrent on patios or balconies. Be careful, however, as candles and toddlers aren’t a great combination, safety-wise. If your child has sensitive skin, keep any exposed areas covered around the oil or candles to prevent any sunburns as citrus oils are considered photo toxic and can make skin more susceptible to burning when exposed to UV light.
Slather on the coconut oil
All natural, meaning it’s non-toxic and doesn’t contain chemicals like DEET (diethyltoluamide, a common active ingredient in many insect repellents), coconut oil is a great topical substance for families to use in the fight against mozzies. It also smells great and it’s easy to apply after showering.
Get a lavender pot
Unlike citronella, lavender cannot be burned in candle form but it can be combined with eucalyptus and citronella to make another topical treatment. While it nourishes the skin, it doesn’t cause any side effects and has a pleasant aroma compared to some of the more pungent mosquito creams. As an added bonus, the scent of lavender oil can be used as a relaxant and aids sleep. And, if you fancy a gardening project you can even buy or nurture a lavender pot and place it on balconies or next to windows to keep the surrounding space free from unwanted insects.
Eat more garlic
Although it won’t enhance your breath, garlic not only deters vampires, it’s also pretty handy at keeping mosquitoes at bay. While it’s not clear exactly why this is, it’s thought that insects are vulnerable to powerful compounds like allicin, which garlic releases. Buy a garlic spray (yes, such a thing exists) but be careful not to overdo it as too much allicin can also result in skin problems.
Dispose of standing water
Standing water is the breeding ground for mosquitoes so check your household and gardens for any random bodies of water, then get rid of them. Standing water can include bird baths, pets’ water bowls or puddles of water in damp spots of the house. Make sure gutters are draining water effectively and clear gardens of items that can collect water.
Look into getting a bat
Bats apparently eat an average of 1,000 mosquitoes a day so why not head down to the pet shop and acquire your own in-house mosquito killer? Completely not creepy and totally natural.
By Stuart Lancaster