Ah, mozzies. Scourge of the (otherwise magnificent) Australian summer. Read on for nine environmentally friendly solutions to make the little buzzers get lost.
Use several methods at once for multiple lines of defence.
Having a supply of citronella on hand is a must for summer. Mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide (which everyone breathes out) and citronella acts as a mask, covering up scents which attract mosquitos. The oil comes in candles and can be poured into Survivor-esque torches. You can also get wearable bands and bracelets for those most susceptable to bites. Most importantly it is a safe and non-toxic method of repelling mosquitos.
Much like Aussie blokes, mosquitoes are attracted to beer. Create mozzie traps by placing small glasses of el-cheapo lager around your outdoor area. The yeast in the beer attracts mosquitos to the beverage. Unfortunately, drinking beer won't prevent you from getting bitten.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant (still) water. Empty and clear out all pools and puddles that could house mosquito lavae. To kill lavae, place used coffee grounds around areas in your backyard which could house lavae. The coffee grounds deprive larvae of oxygen and kill them.
Homemade mosquito trap
Cut a plastic bottle in half. In the bottom half add 1 tblspn of brown sugar and 1 cup of hot water, mix until dissolved. When it's cool, empty the mixture into the bottom half of the bottle and add a tspn of yeast. Place the other half of the bottle upside down in the bottom half and connect with black tape. Be careful to leave the top unobstructed. Place the trap in a mosquito prone area and change the solution every two weeks.
A mozzie repelling classic - the smell of them will transport you back to the family holidays of your childhood - and they're still a good option today. Mosquito coils, when lit, provide a bite-free zone when dining outdoors. The lit coils provide a citronella and/or sandalwood aroma which helps to keep mozzies away. Look for coils that are environmentally friendly.
Eucalyptus and lemon oils
Spray a mixture of eucalyptus and lemon oils around your outdoor area. This will repel mosquitos the same way as citronella. You can also rub the oil onto exposed skin. The best things about these oils are that they are all natural.
Plant mosquito repelling shrubs
Some shrubs are effective in preventing the breeding of mosquitos nearby, as they give off natural odours that keep mosquitoes away. These plants include tulsi, mint, marigold, lemon trees, neem trees and citronella grass.
Garlic and the vampire myth
So there is SOME truth to the myth. Mosquitoes are the bug version of vampires (they want to suck your blood). Eating garlic-loaded meals and keeping cloves of garlic around your outdoor area helps to keep the mosquitos at bay. Not so nice the next morning though.
Automatic diffuser sprays emit a burst of bug-deterring scent every couple of minutes when they're turned on (turn them off when you're not outside). Just stick one or two onto the walls on your patio or verandah. Enviro-friendly plant-based ones are available - a google search will reveal a whole lot of different brands. Be warned: They do make a short hissing sound when releasing the liquid, which may freak guests out if you're in an area frequented by snakes!
This story was first published in Home Life.