garlic.jpg Summer is in full swing, meaning lots of days and nights outside playing lawn games or relaxing around the fire. The one negative thing about the fabulous summertime, though, is the amount of mosquitoes, horse flies and other icky insects that fly around – eating humans alive and leaving us itching and squirmy. This can be especially bad for young children, who may not be quick enough to slap that mosquito away, ending their days whining and scratching. While there are bug repellents available at stores, most contain harmful chemicals. The worst offender is DEET – this chemical is indeed effective at keeping mosquitoes away, but it’s also extremely toxic. Instead of using harmful chemicals to stay bug-free, try one of these five all-natural methods that are safe and sustainable.

1. Build Bug Repelling Summer Mason Jar Luminaries

While many people spend tons of money for citronella candles to keep those pesky backyard mosquitoes away, you can easily make these cute and all-natural Mason jar luminaries. All it takes is water, fresh lemons and limes, fresh rosemary and lavender essential oil – plus a cute jar and a floating tea light candle. Mosquitoes don’t like the smell of the oil and rosemary, while the floating lemon and lime slices will give these rustic-looking luminaries summer flair.

2. Make Homemade Insect Spray

Once again utilizing the amazing, all-natural power of essential oils and extract, homemade insect spray is very easy to make and contains zero toxins. This recipe calls for witch hazel, baby oil, vanilla extract and the essential oil of your choice for scent (remember that bugs dislike lavender and lemongrass). Mix everything up and place in a spray bottle for a great DIY alternative to expensive and potentially toxic conventional bug repellent.

3. Wear Less Blue

Scientists have found that mosquitoes are drawn to darker colors, with blue often cited as one of the worst offenders. Some people say, “Think white and light,” as the lighter the color of your clothes, the less likely you are to attract those pesky bugs. Pinning a dryer sheet to your shirt or shorts can also help to protect you – mosquitoes dislike the scent of the sheets. While these methods are sometimes considered old-timey, they still work!

4. Eat More Garlic

Many homeopathic practitioners state that one of the most effective ways to repel mosquitoes and other itchy pests is to eat plenty of garlic. While the scent may lead to a breath mint for your mouth, it can also provide a protective layer of oil in your pores to create an invisible barrier against bugs. For those who do not wish to increase their garlic intake, there is another way to use garlic in the fight against mosquito bites. Mix one part garlic juice with five parts water and then dip strips of cotton fabric – hang the strips strategically through parts of your home or campsite where those insects gather. Once again, this will create a virtual barrier between you and annoying bug bites.

5. Use Your Garden Strategically

There is a laundry list of different plant and herb scents that mosquitoes and other insects cannot stand – lavender, lemon and rosemary have all been mentioned, but there are even more things that you can add to your garden to keep your yard naturally bug free. A few popular – and versatile – plants that can help are basil, geraniums and marigolds. Surprisingly, mosquitoes also detest catnip – so all of the cat lovers in the world can rejoice in the knowledge they won’t get eaten alive during the summer while their feline friends can enjoy their favorite herb. Check out this list of other flowers, plants and herbs that naturally repel insects.