Mosquitoes, biting ants and tiny biting gnats in particular have been a major battle for us in Puerto Rico. Three of us in particular have "sweet skin" apparently and the bugs bite us like crazy. The other 3 members of the family get off pretty much scot free. I have been buying, DIYing and experimenting like crazy with a bunch of different products. Today, I am going to share them with you in hopes that they might help you out too this summer!
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Bug SpraysWe tried a BUNCH of bug sprays and after bug bite care products and have narrowed the favorites down to:
1. Repel Natural -- Expensive, but the smell is not bad and it is free of DEET and other "bad" chemicals. We bought ours a little cheaper than THIS AMAZON PRICE at Sams in a 2-pack. It works, but not as well as DEET products.
After Bite: We tried many products, but honestly the best is good old cheap calamine lotion. Find it for a couple dollars at any drugstore. I have also found that hand sanitizer with alcohol helps reduce the itch and cools the skin after the biting gnat bites. (They swell up like spider bites and are much ickier than a normal mosquito bite). Just make sure the bite is not "open" as the alcohol will sting a bit.
3. Locals have suggested VapoRub (yes, in the blue bottle) as well as spraying listerine all over your body every morning. We haven't tried those (yet!), but you never know how desperate we might get!
4. We have found the classic strategy of PANTS to be very helpful too. I cannot stand them in the heat, but for baby girl -- light pants for sleeping and even during the day are solving the biting problem in conjunction with essential oils (see below).
Amazon Buys5. I found THESE large citronella candles on clearance for $4.99. Bonus: The little green metal pots are really quite cute and I will reuse them once the candle is finished. Effectiveness of these candles is limited to the space directly around the flame / smoke.
6. I also purchased THIS repellent concentrate (costs about $20) that is meant to be sprayed on yards for backyard picnics, etc. Some of the reviews dislike the product because it must be reapplied after a rain. I have been using it at a capful per gallon in our mopping water, particularly by the front and back doors. The smell is pleasant and it seems to work very well. The bottle will probably last us 2-3 months mopping every 3rd day or so.
7. Last, but not least, we tried these mosquito "bands". Unlike the plastic bands, these are braided and actually kind of cute. They cost $10 for 4 of them and they work reasonably well. Compared to bug sprays, they are great because your clothing doesn't smell like bug spray when you decide to take them off. :)
DIY Solutions8. Onto the fun part!! I thought I would at least have a little fun putting together some DIY products and seeing how well they worked compared to the purchased blends. I started with basic bug repelling essential oils and went from there. MANY essential oils will actually repel bugs (the mint family comes to mind!), but the classic trio is lemongrass, citronella and grapefruit. They all smell pleasant on their own and the finished products do not have that heavy "DEET" smell.
The simplest solution was to simply add essential oils known to repel flying, biting insects to a plain bottle of fragrance-free (cheap!) lotion. For around $2-3, we had a giant vat of spreadable bug repellent. For an even more effective lotion, I made THIS DIY LOTION that combines an oily texture (that the bugs can't stand to land on!) as well as repelling scents like grapefruit and citronella. CLICK HERE to read my full tutorial.
I also made a simple DIY powder that you can make completely naturally -- TUTORIAL HERE.