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You know how you hear stories about camping trips where out of four people, three do okay and one gets chewed to shreds by every native insect imaginable? I'm that fourth person. And having grown up in India, my body tends to overreact to Canadian bug venom.
Yes. Joy.
So let's just say I have a bit of a vested interest in this particular topic. i.e. how to stay bite-free during a Canadian summer.

Of course, I'm not silly enough to attempt battling the nasties by myself.

I brought in the cavalry in the form of Dr. David J Lewis, a respected entomologist at McGill's MacDonald campus. This is a man who had a job during his uni years feeding mosquitoes (a tad more hands on that putting kibble in a bowl, let's just say). He would actually roll up his sleeve and let the little devils feast on him (you can see him do this in our video). He says that he's gotten so used to it that he doesn't get itchy at all any more. Oh how I envy him! I was getting itchy just watching him get bitten!
Anyway, Dr Lewis certainly had some interesting suggestions...

First of all, things that make mosquitoes go mmmmm

Mosquitoes like (in no particular order):
* Dark colours: this includes dark clothing (especially blue and black) AND darker skins (yeah, fatal attraction)
* Floral fragrances (goodbye Bath and Bodyworks)
* Wet skin (sweaty or fresh from the pool)
* Moving targets (they follow the trail of CO2 and lactic acid that we leave wafting behind us as we move)
* Men (rather than women ) and adults rather than children

But of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Mosquitoes also go for a certain je ne sais quoi...
So here's how to get the nasty bug(gers) to leave you alone!

* Wear dark jeans or tight fitting clothes. Mosquitoes have their straw-like probosces which allow them to bite you through snug clothing
* Don't wear perfume. Wash with fragrance-free soaps and shampoos or use a citronella-scented product.
* Don't leave large pools of stagnant water (including rain-catchers and birdbaths) unattended. Dump them out about once a week (mosquitoes need about 10 days to breed).
* Don't leave large swatches of exposed skin (doh!) with no protection


* Wear loose light-coloured clothing. Khaki and beige work even better than white.
* Use a repellant of your choice. Dr Lewis swears by DEET, but feel free to use citronella or some of the recipes listed below. Just reapply more frequently
* Tuck your pants into your socks and tighten the ends of your sleeves around your wrists (to prevent bugs from flying up your clothing and munching on you)
* Use a repellant-impregnated jacket like the one in the video to protect yourself without applying chemicals on your skin.
* If you're looking for more aggressive backyard breeding control, check out this article It lists various natural sprays and recipes that you can use to control bugs without compromising your garden's ecosystem.
* If you're throwing an outdoor party, try LOTS of citronella candles. If the wind isn't too strong, they do tend to offer some protection.
* Get rid of the UV light--it offers no more than psychological protection from mosquitoes and tends to kill all sorts of helpful bugs.
* Munch on yummy garlicky foods-- they DO tend to offer some protection to some folks. Maybe you're one of them.
* Certain essential oils like geranium, tea tree, eucalyptus, soybean and others are said to offer protection. Again, the trick lies in the diligent re-application.

And HERE's a recipe that gardening specialist Anne Lovejoy swears by. It uses catnip, is perfectly safe and was originally published here.


* 2 cups catnip, stemmed
* 3-4 cups mild rice vinegar

Rinse herbs, roll lightly with a rolling pin, then place them in a clean quart jar and cover with vinegar. Seal jar and store in a dark cupboard for two weeks.

Shake jar lightly every day or so for two weeks. Strain into a clean jar, seal and refrigerate for up to 6 months unused.

To use, spritz on exposed skin and around outdoor dining area.


* 2 cups catnip, stemmed
* 1 cup rosemary, cut in 6-inch sprigs
* 2 cups grapeseed oil or any light body-care oil

Roll herbs lightly with a rolling pin and pack into a clean jar. Cover with oil, seal jar and place in a cool, dark cupboard for two weeks.

Shake jar lightly every day or so for two weeks. Strain into a clean jar, seal and refrigerate for up to 8 months unused.

To use, rub on exposed skin.

Oh, and just before I let you go, ever hear of ARNYWEAR? It's this wild British company that makes clothes that are supposed to be naturally mozzie-repellant. If you own any of these, I want to hear about it!

So, do YOU have any never-fail anti-bug tricks? I'm dying (literally!) to hear about them. Do write. Or call our talkback like at (514) 597-5626

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Comments (2)

Illin' Dillan


Cool stuff, another thing that works is to put a bounty sheet or several bounty sheets in your pockets, under your hat, etc. Especially when moving, the bounty sheet is a cheap, effective bug repellant, which will save us all money from those nasty 8.99$ small bottles of OFF!

Posted June 4, 2008 07:49 PM

Phone Tip


This came in over our Talkback line:

Tip about Natural insect repellent segment: Instead of using the citronella candles, use a fan instead. The insects are not strong enough to fly against the winds from the fan… No need for candles or any repellent.

Posted June 5, 2008 02:40 PM

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