Repelling Biting Insects
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Keith DeBlasio
Posted on: September 30, 2009

I suffer from immune deficiency and have discovered that even a gnat bite can cause me to have huge welts, and even bad swelling when near my joints. After any insect bite, I become sick and weak. Therefore, I have just started to cultivate herbs, both inside and outside my home, to ward off the insects.

We have started with Thyme, Tarragon, Catnip, and Lemongrass around the deck so I can at least get some time outside. Are there others that I should be adding? Is Lemon Thyme the best herb to grow under my ramp that wraps three sides of my house? The carpet variety? What plants are closest to the use of citronella oil?

I would like to create a sort of insect moat around my home and deck.

Also, insects seem to have radar that guides them straight to me when everyone else is not being bothered. Are there herbs that can be taken or used topically to interfere with the insects natural ability to find weak plants and animals?

Any of the lemon scented geraniums such as the Citrosa geranium or Frensham lemon may help a bit as well but only if they are agitated to release the oils.

I am afraid that non-herbal solutions are the most effective, but sure smell awful. Any preparation with Deet in it is the most effective topical repellent. I have heard that to kill bugs that get through your herbal shield are most effectively killed by a tennis racket like contraption called "executioner" which is available on the internet. Cheap imitations have too coarse a net to hit all insects and are not nearly as effective.

The "Skin so Soft" lotion is used on horses to make them less attractive to bugs. I have used it on myself, but found it does not help much, or only for a short time.

To keep down mosquitoes make very sure you have no standing water anywhere -not even in somewhat plugged eaves troughs. Moving water will produce black flies, still water mosquitoes. Any water you wish to keep should be sprinkled with a preparation of Bacillus thuringensis variety israelensis (BT) once a week to kill the wrigglers within 24 hours. We have tried it during this very wet summer of 2009 and it worked quite well. The BT from Safers is available in a lot of gardening and co-op stores.

One of the B vitamins is supposed to make the person taking it unattractive to bloodsucking insects. It makes the person smell of garlic, but that is a small price to pay. Consult a health care expert to find out which B vitamin and the effecrive dosage.

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