Some people wipe themselves down with Bounce fabric softener sheets before heading outdoors. Others swear by a little Vicks VapoRub.

People will try almost anything to keep those pesky mosquitoes from taking a bite out of them. They’ve gobbled bananas, tried Joy dishwashing detergent and rubbed on Listerine mouthwash.

The list of home remedies and natural products keeps growing as people seek alternatives to chemical pesticides. Some people are convinced these home remedies work, but solid research is harder to find.

Here’s a sampling of common remedies:

Garlic: Eating garlic emits an odor that mosquitoes (not to mention humans) find offensive. But it’s unclear how much garlic must be eaten to get the full effect. There has been at least one study on the use of garlic as a repellent, but the participants apparently didn’t eat enough garlic to make a difference.

Catnip oil: It drives cats crazy, but does it do the same thing for mosquitoes? Researchers at Ohio State University found that catnip can repel mosquitoes 10 times more effectively than DEET. Other herbs in the mint family are believed to do a good job of repelling mosquitoes.

Vitamin B1: When taken three times a day, 25 milligrams to 50 milligrams of vitamin B1 is said to produce an odor that pregnant mosquitoes can’t stand. It’s odorless to humans, but it takes about two weeks to be effective. Not everyone is convinced that the vitamin is a major turnoff for mosquitoes. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found it had no effect.

Purple martins: Yes, this little bird does eat mosquitoes, but not enough to make much of a difference. In a 1918 study, the stomach contents of 205 purple martins were examined for mosquitoes and none was found. That’s not enough evidence to convince some people who strongly believe that the birds do a good job of keeping the bugs away.

Clove oil: It works for headaches and apparently repels mosquitoes, too. Undiluted clove oil repels mosquitoes for up to two hours. The downside is undiluted clove oil may cause a skin rash. And it smells.

Source: National Institute of Health, Avoidmosquitobites.com, altmedicine.about.com, DrGreene.com.


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