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How effective are essential oils for mosquito or tick protection?

There are many misconceptions when it comes to protecting yourself against mosquito and tick bites, and a quick Google search will yield no shortage of DIY “essential oil” mosquito repellant. But how effective are these homemade recipes using essential oils? And are they safe?

In a nutshell, the answers to those questions are “not very effective,” and “it depends.” Let us explain.

It is true that certain plants and the oils that are derived from them are not attractive to mosquitoes. Oils such as lavender, peppermint, cedar, eucalyptus, lemongrass, basil, and others. However, in order to even make an essential oil-based homemade bug spray, you need to understand that these oils need to be diluted tremendously, and combined with other things such as vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, or other things. It seems like every homeopathic website has their own spin on what such a concoction should or should not consist of.

But while thousands of plants have been tested as potential botanical sources of insect repellant, none have been proven to be very effective. A highly-referenced study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that all of the botanical repellants they tested, regardless of their active ingredients and formulations, gave very short-lived protection, ranging from about 3 to 20 minutes.

Essential oils themselves are not registered or approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Depending on the concentration of the essential oils, they can be extremely irritating to the skin, if not hazardous in other ways. According to this study from the National Institute of Medicine, there is a wide range of what is considered “safe concentration” versus “hazardous” in varying ingredients of natural, essential oil-based repellants.

Let’s take a step back from the science for a minute here and focus on practicality. Do you really want to have to slather yourself in bug spray, essential oil-based or not, every time you go out in your yard? And keep applying it to yourself and your children? Not only is that tedious, it’s stinky, and heaven forbid you miss a spot. You need to apply it to ALL exposed skin, because believe us — mosquitoes can and will find the patch of skin that isn’t treated and take a nice bite. Applying, then reapplying, insect repellant leaves a lot of opportunity to stain clothes, too.

At Mosquito Squad, we’re big believers in treating your surroundings, not yourself. A single barrier treatment in your yard will knock down 90% of mosquitoes and ticks on contact, and continue eliminating them for three weeks after application. It’s a much more convenient and effective way to enjoy spending time outdoors at home, without the hassle of the body sprays. We do offer an essential-oil based, all-natural formula, which is about 80% effective at repelling (not eliminating) bugs, but it’s important to note that we are treating your yard, not human beings. All of our products are registered with the EPA, including our all-natural formula, which is based on essential oils but not entirely comprised of them.

A barrier treatment from Mosquito Squad is hands down the most effective way of protecting yourself from mosquitoes and ticks in your own yard, and you don’t even need to worry about applying anything to your body. Why not get started on taking back your yard today? Give us a call at 603-380-4541. We look forward to helping you fight the bite!

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