It’s all in the DEETails: 10 cheap, blood-saving tips for avoiding mosquitoes this summer

Get 'em OFF! Photo via @mike mozart on Flickr.
Get ’em OFF! Photo via @mike mozart on Flickr.

Mosquitoes have got you itchin’ & bitchin’. You’re steering clear of late-night beer gardens in fear of getting unwanted attention from dirty, thirsty blood-suckers (and I’m not talking about cute goth vampire boys). You’re tired and fed up of researching DIY “all-natural” bug sprays, which involve spending $40 on essential oils, almond oil, vodka and spray bottles, only to wear your creations confidently to Prospect Park and leave with six new bug bites (like I did when I initially began working on this article).

Welcome to Summer Hell, folks. Hope here, your favorite Mom-Shorts preaching, hot dog-loving, brunch waitress extraordinaire, and I’m back today to share some tips on how to avoid those pesky little summer fuckers we all love to hate: Mosquitos. [Note: I am in no way qualified to counsel on the risks of Zika, so know that the forthcoming tips aim to combat mosquitos, the itchy annoyance, not the transmitters of virus.]


Dwight Schrute brings his own homemade, deet-infused bug repellent to the company picnic.
Dwight Schrute brings his own homemade, deet-infused bug repellent to the company picnic.

While some people, like Dwight Schrute, slather on DEET like it’s none of the EPA’s business, I find myself a little more stand-OFFish when it comes to spraying and inhaling chemicals that have been deemed only “slightly toxic” by the government. Sure, DEET works as an almost real life Invisibility Cloak against mosquitos, but not even DEET can provide you with a 100 percent guarantee of not getting bitten up as soon as you even think about going outdoors.

Humans spend millions of dollars each summer on mosquito-repelling products in the hopes of protecting themselves and their families from these buzzing fiends—and while I’d rather spend my extra hard-earned cash on alcohol and snacks, this girl is slightly allergic to bug bites and hates wearing long pants on a hot summer night out.

Hence, I’ve compiled a simple guide with tips and tricks for cheap, safe, alternatives to keep you under that Mosquito Radar and lower your chances of getting bit, and though I cannot give you an 100 percent reliable guarantee, these are practices that can help reduce your interactions with these bloodied bitches (because did you know that the mosquitoes that bite you are female?).


Did you know that catnip, aka kitty pot, also has bug repellent properties? Photo via @pinkchanel49 on Instagram.
Did you know that catnip, aka kitty pot, also has bug repellent properties? Photo via @pinkchanel49 on Instagram.

1. Carry Catnip in your purse/bag

Did you know that nepetalactone, the essential oil that’s found catnip, is known for repelling mosquitos (some say even better than DEET)? Steal from your cat’s secret stash and carry it on your person when venturing outside. It’s like dropping a Pokemon Incense, but with bodega kitties!

2. Clean yourself: Mosquitos are attracted to your gross, old sweat

Mhmmmmm mosquitos love a good musky body odor, and can smell you from over a 100 feet away. You’re better off avoiding physical activities altogether in my opinion, but if you’re of the Sporty Spice/active variety, just be sure to keep the odorless deodorant on hand and shower ASAP/more than usual (please, for all our sakes) after you work out. They’re attracted to the bacteria that comes from old sweat!

3. Eat Garlic

Get that extra garlic yogurt on your chicken shawarma y’all, because garlic isn’t just for protection against Twilight fanatics anymore. If you eat enough, it’ll seep through your pores (kind of like how the alcohol sweats work), which makes you a turn-off in those heart-eyes of mosquitos. Garlic is also very good for you, so if you’re worried about having bad breath on your picnic Tinder date, there are also garlic supplements you can find at your local drugstore.

4. Dress light

Mosquitos are attracted to dark colors, so drop the summer goth aesthetic already unless you’re looking to usher in flying vampires.


The suburban backyard staple works just as well in BK. Photo via @minniethechiweenie on Instagram.
The suburban backyard staple works just as well in BK. Photo via @minniethechiweenie on Instagram.

5. Carry a tiki torch

Remember those tiki torches your parents would set up every summer around the pool/yard? Those are typically filled with Citronella, an oil made up of different combined grasses, that doubles as a “low-risk pesticide.” Its purpose is to only steer away the mosquitos as opposed to killing them; plus, it’s non-toxic to humans! You can recreate all the nostalgia feels of childhood summers past radiating off of them as soon as it’s LIT. Works great for rooftop parties!

6. Avoid beauty/cosmetic products with perfume

Mosquitoes primarily use their sense of smell for seeking targets, so if you smell “too-good” by New York MTA standards from beauty products, you’re a sitting duck. It took me all last summer to realize that the reason my legs were getting so bit up was because I was using a butter cream lotion on them, and, though I smelled like cake, I was a delicious temptress. I’ve switched to an odorless lotion upon the weather getting warmer this year and it’s made all the difference.

7. Avoid sitting water

Speaking of sitting ducks, mosquitoes flock to pools, puddles, drains, old tires with water pooled inside —which anyone who’s been following developments of the Zika virus should know by now. Stay clear of sitting water, go to the beach instead.

8. Dryer Sheets

Worth their weight in gold, dryer sheets are! Shout out to Sam Corbin for this tip (Come back!). Not only are they for softening your clothes, but they also work well as a easy, breezy, glorious scented disguise from sneaky biters. Give yourself a quick little light wipe down with your dryer sheet when sweaty, and if you’ve got a hat handy, stick it under that for some extra odor-protection (because your head sweats a lot more than you’d expect). Unless you’ve got some form of dryer sheet allergy, in which case don’t do this!


It's essential to learn your essential oils. Photo via @theherbshoppemississippidx on Instagram.
It’s essential to learn your essential oils. Photo via @theherbshoppemississippidx on Instagram.

9. Try the DIY route…if you know what you’re doing. I will admit I know very little when it comes to essential oils, but many are said to work well repelling mosquitoes. Possible explanations for my initial DIY experiments failing could simply be chalked up to me not necessarily knowing what I was doing. Maybe I didn’t use enough, or combined the wrong oils, added too much vodka (probably that), etc.

There are lots of resources on essential oils, so read up on them before running to your local health food store and dropping $40 on them. Don’t be a dumb dumb like me.

Mosquitoes, we hate you. It’d be nice if we could rid you off the planet, or at least Brooklyn, but the thing is that we just don’t know how the world would adapt with you gone. The only thing we can do is be turn a critical eye to what we read about you on the Internet, per usual, apply our preferred tactics of keeping you away from us at all costs, and carry on until science comes up with a way to cure all of our problems.

10. Embrace your inner introvert and stay inside 

This one is obvious but it bears repeating: Who needs nature and sunlight when you’ve got HBO Now, Stranger Things, and a whole season of GoT to catch up on? Have you even seen the finale yet? Dude.

Also: Fans and air conditioning are perks of being indoors, keeping you mostly sweat free.

Follow Hope and you’ll steer clear of mosquitoes (but might smell like dryer sheets): @HavingHope14.


  1. Fan of fans

    First on the list should be: turn on a fan, inside or outside. No toxic anything, no smells, mosquitos can’t fly against the wind, and it blows away the odors and carbon dioxide that attracts them.

    • aggle

      what? I have 3 fans in my 1 window apartment and i’ve been bit at least 20 times this summer by mosquitos they definitely fly in regardless of wind direction and i’m assuming industrial strength fans blow carbon dioxide off the body…?

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